Would You Believe It’s the Great Wall?

上海 Blog #22

二零一五年六月十一号星期四

Thursday June 11th, 2015

Local Time: 23:19 Shanghai Time

Mark was sick today, so we got to sleep in. I hate to say it, but yay! I sort of needed a break from running nonstop around Shanghai and beyond for the last two weeks without a day off. We had a debate in International Relations class at the reasonable hour of 11am this morning about whether the world is unipolar with the U.S. as the sole super power or China or the EU have gained enough that a bipolar or multipolar world has emerged. The unipolar side was the easier side to argue, so in case you’re wondering, it still seems the U.S. dominates.

I’d also like to point out I was feeling pretty BA in my Mandarin skills when I noticed a pair of English speaking French girls struggling to order lunch in front of me and basically ordered for them. Getting better every day.

The sequence of events following that were a tad bit random, but kept things interesting. We were shepherded to an old part of Shanghai where a guard wall containing a Daoist temple was preserved. I was informed this was the only place we’d see on the whole trip resembling any sort of similarity to the Great Wall. I wonder if I can convince my brother with my strategically positioned photos that I actually made it out to the Great Wall. Remember when I said China was huge? Well, it takes thirteen hours by car to reach the Great Wall from Shanghai. Long story short, I won’t be going this trip. Oh well, it’s a good excuse to come back to China and give 北京 (BeiJing) a try in the future.

We stumbled upon a man doing calligraphy during our exploration of the site. I told him “你写汉字写得真好。这个很漂亮!” (You write characters really well! This is very pretty.) The gentleman came back with “没没没没没”. (No,no,no,no,no). I asked Arbor about it (a new addition to our CIEE staff) and he explained that it’s part of Chinese culture to deflect and deny compliments. Good to know. I’ll have to keep that in mind next time I’m complimented so I don’t look like an arrogant American.

Next thing I know we’re wandering through a pet market teeming with shrilling crickets, dogs, cats, birds of all types, turtles, fish, squirrels, chipmunks, salamanders and snakes. Apparently crickets are an old fashion favorite of China because of their summer time songs that are thought to bring people good luck.

True to the Shanghai way, our next stop was of course another market, this one catering to antiques which may or may not have been legit, we may never know. One of my friends bought a really cool cane with a dragon carved into it for just 50 元. We all nearly died of laughter when he thought the thing broke not ten minutes later or to reveal about a ten inch blade hidden inside the staff of the cane. Good thing he knows now to check that on the plane home instead of trying to get it through airport security.

Our last stop was XinTianDi which is one of the wealthiest districts in Shanghai. An apartment in that area will run you upwards of 13-17 million USD. Uff Da! This place was all decked out, full of fancy western designer shops, Hagen Das, Starbucks, fountains, foliage, gelato, you name it…. And as always, domestic tourists from the country side taking our pictures as we enjoyed chocolate mango gelato.

Dinner was an experience, as are many of our mundane activities here. We went to hot pot which is basically the cheap Chinese version of Brazilian Steak House or Melting Pot (so basically cooking your own stuff in a broth fondue). Our little group was six strong and we ordered way too much food! So delicious though and only ran us each 36元。

Painting at the antique market
Painting at the antique market
The fake Great Wall
The fake Great Wall
Xin Tian Di Fountain
Xin Tian Di Fountain
Anyone want a cricket as a pet?
Anyone want a cricket as a pet?
Hidden temple space
Hidden temple space