Shanghai Town and Dinner

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This post was originally published in 2007
It may contain stale & outdated information. Or it may have grown more awesome with age, like the author.

Spent the day in town, visiting Yvonne's relatives.  Took a taxi to the first house, her grandma, uncle and aunties. They were nice, and gave us some pudding. The pudding was sweet with hard boiled egg, which was weird. I ate it all though, and thought it tasted pretty good. Savory egg in a sweet pudding is still weird though. [caption id="attachment_50" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Due to be demolished"]Due to be demolished[/caption] Then we went to some place to have lunch. The food tasted OK, but as you're allowed to smoke inside everything was tainted with cigarette smoke. Also the wallpaper was stained and peeling. We clearly weren't in Panmure. Across from us there was a man whose eyes pointed in opposite directions. He was creepy, like those paintings that seem to be staring at you no matter where in a room you're standing. Next we went to Yvonne's other grandma's house. I like that grandma. I made them all laugh with my perfect imitations of her Shaoxing accented speech. Just before we left I went to the toilet. Toilet paper was not free. On the way to the bus stop we saw one of Yvonne's other uncles, who demanded we accept his offer of a free ride. Being driven in Shanghai (and I imagine it is the same in all China) is an experience. Indicating is for losers, and there is a competition to see who can pull off the nearest miss. Everyone drives how me (and Grandad) would like to drive. The most common, by far, make of car is Volkswagon. There is a whole taxi company who seems to have an entire fleet of Volkswagon Santana 3000 cars. They are pretty good cars. There are almost no Japanese cars. This is probably because China and Japan hate each other. Generally, the roads are in good shape, just really complicated. If you didn't know where you were going, you'd be liable to run out of gas before finding a place to park. Did you hear? There was an explosion and a petrol station today in Shanghai, 4 people dead, many more injured. Unsurprisingly, in a city of 20,000,000+ people, I was nowhere near the scene. Sorry I couldn't get photos. We walked down a bunch of roads, I have submitted a few photos as evidence. Maybe it's too cold, but I haven't seen the seas of people I expected. I actually haven't seen nearly as many people on the street as I have in Auckland even. There are a crapload more streets than Auckland though. Also, there is construction going on EVERYWHERE. I may have said it before, but jeez. EVERYWHERE! We were lucky enough to pass the bank just as the money transporters were doing their work. I say lucky because guns are cool and they had them. Two men stood at the doors with pump action shotguns, while four others did the rest. Two of them carried the money case, with one leading and one trailing. Those people also had pump action shotguns. After that, we had to walk past another construction site. The footpath was narrowed, and we were forced to walk two abreast. A guy on a scooter came up behind us, and after awhile we let him pass. Yvonne mentioned that he wasn't supposed to ride on the footpath, and I offered to throw him into oncoming traffic. Yvonne laughed, but declined. Later, as we were crossing the road, we saw that a cop had caught him and was giving him a fine. Ha ha ha. hen we walked through 'old Shanghai' as Yvonne's dad called it. It did look old. People were selling things on the street (where are they notin China?), and on one block we saw that the police were busting a bunch of them. They do this periodically - if they don't then the hawkers would become too numerous and force pedestrians out into traffic. They actually do force you out into traffic most of the time. What I mean is they'd forceyou out into traffic ALL of the time. That'd be pretty bad, as buses don't really stop for anything smaller than another bus, or a bus stop. We went and saw a particularly old part then, which has actually been condemned. It dates from about 1940, and looks its age. After that we went and had dinner at a popular Shanghai seafood restaurant. Before sitting down the group has to walk around a big table that has aquariums or ice beds all around it. This is so the customer can see that the food is fresh. I don't think many westerners would actually enjoy this, as a lot of the 'food' looks strange. I liked it though because fish are cool. I needed to go toilet, but my past experience made me hold it. We sat down and waited for everyone to arrive. In total there were 13 people. Incidentally, 13 is a lucky number in China. Yvonne told me that westerners don't like the number thirteen because it is the number of people who were at the last supper. I didn't know this, but it sounds convincing. I don't really care about stupid superstitions, unless they are proven using the scientific method. I have seen no peer-reviewed articles showing that 13 is 'unlucky'. therefore to me, it is just another number. So then we ate dinner, and I wowed the family with my ability to eat Chinese food. Also I said "Happy to meet you all" in Shanghainese, and drank whenever I was told. Sometime during the dinner I went to the toilet. One of the uncles kindly got up to show me where it is. I thought that he just wanted to go toilet as well, and I was a little worried as that ruined my exit plan, in case the toilet was too gross. He just pointed to the toilet and returned to the table though. The toilet was OK. I didn't even get any on my pants, though it looked like it because I had spilled so much sauce and soup on them already. I acted cool about it though, and no-one noticed, or if they did, they didn't make a fuss. Xiaolan's family liked me a lot, and her dad was happy. Dinner finished eventually and we went home. There was so much cigarette smoke in the air that I was relieved. All-in-all, dinner was good. Jamie: I think they were standard MP5s, with a short stock. I couldn't get a closer look because we were only transferring, so we weren't allowed to go downstairs. The camera I have been using, well, it kind of ... sucks.
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