{March 4, 2008}   shanghai

[another long post; wrote it last night]

whew. what a day!
I’d forgotten about the lack of central heating in the south. ohhh the cold. I do not like how cold I am. I do not like it, sam-I-am.

I meant to get up early and wander around, but of course that never happens; by the time I’d convinced myself to wake up and leave the relative almost-warmth of bed, then showered and checked email, it was already lunchtime. I wandered out and gawked at things for a while, and evenutally found myself in some underground shopping area – the standard chinese tourist shops with bags, watches, jewellery and other knicknacks.
I looked around for a while, and remembered that my mum wants another watch (I don’t know how she does it but no watch lasts even a year without breaking in some way or another). I was so surprised to find some watches that actually looked good, I bought two of them. at the price the girl was asking; 30 kuai each. I’m sure they can’t have been worth more than ten; in fact, on my way out I caught sight of some similar watches with marked prices – 28 kuai. yep, I’m a sucker. (at least I had my wits about me when I was buying clothing in beijing).

I wandered along the street a bit more, and some chinese guy started chatting with me… he had a standard phishing story about being only 15 years old, running away from home and looking for work – all bullshit I’m sure, but I bought him a cheap lunch anyways ’cause he was fun to talk to.

not long after getting rid of him, two girls came up – their story was that they were students doing an art exhibition. :) I let them pull me along to go see their ‘art’ – the standard scroll paintings that everyone swears they made themselves. they did have some silk paintings I hadn’t seen before, though, and those were pretty. I ended up buying one ofthem for 55 kuai – a ridiculous price I’m sure, but they were asking 50 for the cheapest paper scrolls that I know areworth under 10 kuai, and I made the mistake of saying I’d pay 50 for the nice silk painting not the little paper one… luckily 55 was all I had in my wallet at the time. :) they were fun to chat with, though. everyone’s been fascinated by my water thingummy today – I can never remember what to call those plastic water-sacks with the tube, but I dunno why everyone doesn’t buy them. they really are convenient.

After that I wandered until I reached the small strips of flowers and grass that were marked as a big green area on my map :P I was just turning around to wander back when some people saw me juggling and were quite interested… turns out they were tourists from some other part of china, around my age. it was a while before I convinced myself they really were just tourists and not part of some elaborate plot to part me from more of my money. ;) they were about to go buy tickets for some acrobatics show, and I decided to tag along. unfortunately the tickets cost a bit more than what I hadon me (minus the money tagged as ‘needed for survival’) and there was a charge for using plastic, so one of the guys paid for all four tickets and we headed to an ATM to pay him back. That was kinda.. very stupid. I’d already had to go to three ATMs in beijing to get my card to work. this time we went to… I think four ATMs, and then we went into a bank, where there was a minimum withdrawal of 1000 plus a 30 kuai service fee… which didn’t matter, because there was some kind of error again. I even tried my visa in an ATM, guessing at the pin # (I remember 3 of the 4 digits). we went back to the ticket-selling place and got them to try charging the ticket to either of my cards… while they were fiddling I realised the tickets were nonrefundable, and started to stress out. strange thing was, when they tried my debit card they never asked for my pin and said that the machine said there wasn’t enough money, so they must’ve been outright doing something wrong htere… anyways, they said there was an atm across the street that would surely work – I didn’t believe that, but we went anyways… and it actually worked. I have no fucking clue why, but I finally managed to get money, thank god.

and then one of the guys realised he’d left his bag back at the ticket office. doh. :) he ran back to get it and I headed off to the hostel.

I have a feeling that either my bank is having network issues, or my cards themselves are messed up, because that was pretty fucked up. never again will I buy something with someone else’s money. :P

anyways, I had just enough time to walk back to the hostel, get some food and head to the acrobatics show. I took the subway.. oh god. shanghai subways are madness. utter madness. also, the street maps down there don’t always have north pointing up… anyways, I survived, and even arrived a bit early. no sign of my new friends, though. :/ I sent them an sms and they said they were on their way, but I’m not sure if they ever made it. how odd. in any case, the performance was awesome :) lots of flips and guys standing on shoulders and jumping from one pole to another and swinging around, and girls doing weird ballet-like things, and even motorcycles in a ball… definately worth the money. :)

I’m gonna go collapse now. I have to head back to hangzhou tomorrow – I still can’t quite get my head around the fact that I’m really leaving china. :)

et cetera
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