Monday, December 20, 2010

More Random Fun!

Anne and I have found our Saturday walks to be absolutely fabulous. We end up walking between 3-5 hours on average. The continued array of fascinating cultural activities, Chinglish (odd attempts at using English which often amuse), taxi events etc. makes our walks the absolute best part of our week. It all just seems so random, yet oh so entertaining. Last Saturday was particularly interesting as we ventured further out into some real “local” areas.

But before I begin, today, we took a cab to the airport. We saw our 3rd gas station. We’ve been here nearly 5 months. I don’t’ know where all the cars get their gas! There’s crush hour, big freeways, and we were on the freeway for an hour to get to the Pudong airport. Man, wherever they are, they must be packed all day long. Maybe they don’t need much gas. The cars are mostly small engine, and the speed limit on the freeway is 80 kph. I think that’s around 50 mph. It’s painfully slow, but then again, I’m sure it’s plenty fast when the roads are full.

In order to get on the freeway, our taxi had to get to a large crossroad. I have an example shot here of an intersection that has over 40 lanes coming and going!! So, the light we had to take a left at was very difficult to navigate as cars back up trying to get through. We could see our green arrow to go, but it was pretty clogged, even though there is a cop directing traffic about 100 yards ahead. No worries, about 20 cars, including us, just crossed 5 oncoming lanes and drove on the shoulder to get to the intersection where we could then take a left. No reaction by the cop. It’s all good. No wrecks, everyone’s happy, no honking…that’s reserved for cars/mopeds that “don’t” know you’re coming. No problem there! They all knew we were coming! That, was a new 1st

So we get to the airport-pretty new, a bit bleak compared to back home-no art work or music and a bit dark. We grabbed a bite-I went with a safe noodle soup. Joey saw some spaghetti with meat sauce. Perfect-simple, the picture looked great. It came with a multitude of veggies in it, red sauce on top, and finished off with the meat-2 hotdogs laid across the top. FYI, all “sausage” in Shanghai is a hotdog. (Yes, even at a great Italian pizza joint we found; sliced up HD with salami—amazing!) Our gate was two floors down, which was where the tarmac was. We went through check-in, went outside, got on a 60 foot bus, and travelled across several runways to what looked like a 2-3 square mile cement parking lot where all aircraft parked. The busses deliver passengers to and from the terminal. We really couldn’t see the end of the “parking lot.” Not exactly wheelchair friendly! 25 stairs up to the cabin of a jet about the size of a 707. Bangkok here we come! Ü

Check out all the flower racks! You can purchase them at flower stores if you know someone that’s opening a new business. It’s good luck, congrats, and a beacon for the new business as a “Grand Opening” would be in the states. Only difference is, businesses here come and go weekly. They’re usually accompanied with firecrackers and fireworks to ward off evil spirits. Anne and I saw a new dumpling shop with a good sized line so we joined the crowd for some local fare. The dumplings are filled with balls of random street meat and spices. They get fried up and the juices from the meat fill the dumpling. Quite excellent! You can also get it in steamed dim sum, which are a bit larger in traditional dough (cao bao) for about 14 cents. Anyway, the dumpling place looked great, so we paid for 3 (san). I thought they were a bit spendy at 12 kwai ($1.70), but I hadn’t bought before, so I was just doing whatever it took. I got a bit alarmed as I saw them packaging them in little plastic bags. Everyone was getting them in multiples of 4. I realized I ordered 3 sets, 4 for 4 kwai. They shoveled out 12 of those puppies. We were miles from home and certainly weren’t that hungry. We just gave one of the bags of 6 to someone else in line. You would have thought we just gave them a new car. One woman was beside herself and just new this couldn’t be right. It pained her to watch us leaving her waving her money. We tried eating them hot and they just erupted in our faces. So there we were hanging our mugs over a patch of grass, drooling hot street meat juice while the locals just stared in wonder and amusement.

Right next door, another shop had been slicing and dicing fish for deep fried fish balls, right out in front on the sidewalk. Lord knows how long it all sits outside before bringing it in to mash up…The flaming iron bowls of food were just selected from the array of pre-prepared dishes. It’s common to just set it all out in bowls ready to be heated up.

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