Thursday, June 17, 2010

Friends gone

The Alaskans left. The Taiwan girls came. They left yesterday. I think it's good for young Taiwanese to visit China. It's a lesson lived - not to get complacent about cross-strait relations, as this is not a country anyone should want to become part of by default. One of my Chinese teachers, "Lee Laoshi," was a die-hard KMT-type. She was always banging on about how she hoped China and Taiwan could reunite very soon. But then she went on a three-week organized tour. She came back to class and said she hoped Taiwan and China would reunite "maybe not so soon."

Everywhere I went the girls were in awe of the crowds (there are almost as many people living in Shanghai as there are total in Taiwan) and the ummm "culture." And everywhere we went, we were cheated, which pretty much comes with the territory:

On one occasion we obviously got taken the long way in a cab. I'm terrible with directions, so I might not have noticed, but the ride home was RMB 4 cheaper (about fifty cents, U.S., but a substantial different to a Shanghai cab ride). Then we went to a nearby water town (a tourist trap with canals) and the taxi from the train station said he'd take us to a cheaper entrance. RMB 50 each. Later I learned it should've been RMB 30. Then the girls went to the fake market by themselves while I went to work. They showed me shoes they bought for RMB 100, which should've be RMB 40 (seen later elsewhere). 

This doesn't make me mad so much as it annoys me. It's so little money, but it's tiresome to feel like you always have to be on your guard. I went to get my nails done in the salon downstairs, knowing it ought to cost RMB 30 - 40, but I didn't establish the price ahead of time. I chatted with the salon girls, we were all friendly and giggling, I got the works, it took half an hour...Then while my nails were drying the manicurist tells me RMB 70, and the way she looked me in the eye when she said it, I think she was a little bit ashamed. Again, it's only the difference between $5 and $10 USD, but I won't go back. 

My Shanghai BFF Jessica just left to backpack around Africa. She hasn't booked a return flight yet. I told her not to fall in love with any big game hunters. But I think she's more likely to go all Blood Diamond on me. She's just that kind of girl. BLING-BANG! Jess' roommate, my surrogate boyfriend just moved to Xujiahui, meaning he's a 10 min. cab instead of a 10 min. walk away. Next month he heads back to the States for grad school and I will have to find a new default +1 invite to all these media events.

It's Chef Mike's birthday. He's 28. I bought him four 40 oz. Tsingtaos and gifted him his half of our wireless router. I also gifted him the free movie tickets I get from work each month. I never wind up using them. He's out now. But I'm sure he'll be really impressed with the fruits of my generosity waiting for him on our coffee table.

On Saturday I'm going to a "media only" party put on by the Swedish Consulate. It's a viewing party because some Swedish princess is getting married. There's going to be a wedding dress fashion show and heavy swag bags, I'm told. That ought to make up for the no +1 invite (I've only been doing this three months, but that's how you start to think verrry quickly).

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