Day 24: Shanghello

The Shanghai Museum is architecturally marvelous.  And this building, which looks like it could be a Jedi temple with its stable foundational blocks and a huge ring that surrounds it like a halo, houses some amazing ancient pottery – they have shards from 6800 B.C., which blows my mind.  Ancient Buddhist sculptures, elegant silk paintings, the history of the silk road shown through the evolution of the coins exchanged.  Very cool museum.

tiny buddhas

Ancient Tiny Buddhas

Why does walking around a museum make me more sore and tired than walking anywhere else for the same amount of time?

We meet back up with Gordon, Sam’s Chinese friend, and he shows us around the French Concession area.  I guess it’s an area that developed when there was a French settlement in Shanghai, at some point in the . . . past.  Clearly I’m very informed.  Whatever it used to be, today it is a very cool bohemian artsy scene.  Cafes and galleries and wine shops line the narrow alleyways of a few city blocks, and treasures hide in the shadows of the leaning buildings and umbrellas.  Very cool.

lonely plant

French Concession Treasure.  Awesome lonely window.  The brick walls here were amazing.

french concession wall

More awesome brick with green plants.

Stacked Bamboo.  Maybe to assemble into scaffolding?  Plus, you just can’t hide that brick.

We stop at a cafe offering NY style pizza and it is really, really delicious.  You know when you are eating really good food with a group of people and you get that desperate, jealous fear that you won’t get enough to curb your appetite.  It happens to me every time I share good Indian food family-style with friends.  And it happens today with this pizza.  I’m looking at my friends from behind a brow slanted with suspicion because they are trying to eat all my pizza.  But, as usually happens in such circumstances, I leave satisfied despite the paranoia.

Tentative Peace.  I think he was scared of me and the peace sign was so ingrained it was hardly voluntary.

morning paper

Morning Paper with Dad

At dinner time we meet up with a group of Sam’s friends who are having a goodbye party for one of their own who is moving back to the States.  Dusty and sweaty and absurdly under-dressed for this private room in this fancy restaurant, I’m feeling awkward until everyone turns out to be happy and friendly and I take a breath and relax.

We are finally in a group large enough to make the absurdly large lazy susan effective!  With twelve or fifteen people surrounding the single table, the only way to get at each dish is to patiently wait for it to spin toward you.  Then you hope no one notices you drop you food on the table-cloth.  Waiters are continuously streaming into the room to set more dishes on the turntable, and most of it is reeeally good.

There are big, fantastic hunks of pork with an inch and a half chunk of fat at the end of them that are astoundingly tender.  But I can’t handle the slippery fat and leave it sitting conspicuously on my plate, quivering with every movement of the table.  Even though the meat is so tasty, I limit myself to one piece so as too not waste another piece of the fat which I understand the rest of people love like candy.

While chatting with the absurdly cool Shanghai-ese guy next to me (with his red fauxhawk and inexplicable [even by him] Aussie accent), he promises that popping that hunk of fat in my mouth will “change your life.”  How can I ignore that recommendation?  So I do it.

It’s gross.

I bite through the middle of the fat and it squirts out from between my teeth to fill my cheeks.  Ugh.  I’ve spent too much of my life avoiding this disgusting chewy gelatinous ick to suddenly enjoy it just because a hip Chinese person tells me to.  I don’t even like Jello, and Jello isn’t made out of pure fat.  But god, is the meat good.

We go with the group to a swankified bar/lounge (after changing out of our gross tourist clothes.  Psycho roommate update: no evidence of animal sacrifices in our room, so it would seem the crazy roommate has behaved herself today) and have a few drinks while sitting on comfortable couches and playing a quiet game of Guess Which Fat White Guy Is Here with a Hooker.  We decide: a lot of them.

It’s actually a pretty awesome place for people watching, even besides playing Find the John.  It’s pretty much a sausage fest, but that means we get to watch all the douchey white guys in their dress shirts with the top few buttons opened to display their shimmering, hairless chests trying to catch the attention of the oh so lucky ladies.

The bar is pretty close to the hostel, but we make a drunken spontaneous decision to walk somewhere far away to see . . . something.  I may or may not find a dark spot near the construction to pee at on the way.  Whatever it was that we were trying to see, it is too late to see it.  So we console ourselves with some late night McDonalds fries.  But even the salty, golden magic that blots transparent the bottom of the bag doesn’t prevent some little spat from flaring up between us.  Spend this much time with anyone and it’s bound to happen.  So we walk silently back to the hostel.  Awkwaaaard.


5 Responses to “Day 24: Shanghello”

  1. June 14, 2010 at 9:58 am

    First, ShangHELLO – HILARIOUS! Do you include subtle wit like that just for detailed-oriented me? 😉

    Second, I do hope we see/hear more about the Shanghai Museum?? Not just one little old picture of tiny Buddha wall (very cool, BTW) and a paragraph?

    Third, the way to weave a story is fantastic! From the meal to the people (the “Guess Which Fat White Guy Is Here with a Hooker” line made me LOL!), to your worrisome thoughts and drunken, er, spontaneous behavior.

    Sooooo, what did y’all fight about? 🙂

    • June 14, 2010 at 10:40 am

      First: oh GOOD! i wrote out the entry and then sat here for a couple minutes, drawing a total blank about what to title it. i kinda just threw shanghello out into the wind to see what happened. so, glad you liked it!

      Second: greedy! 🙂 i have some more pics from the museum – a couple are pretty cool. but i don’t really have any stories…so you might have to just make yourself be happy with the one little paragraph. but ill post the pics soon.

      third: thank you very much! i feel like i’m just kind of babbling while i type, not making much effort to “weave” my story, as you so generously describe it. so whatever happens is pretty much on accident. it would be fun to take a writing class and actually learn how to develop a plot and stuff, though.

      fourth: i dont remember perfectly, but i said something to one of the girls that she took in a way unintended by me. and then we let ourselves get into an argument. a buildup of bar/travel/proximity stress, i think.

      • June 14, 2010 at 6:38 pm

        Yes, I am greedy and I LIKE it! 🙂

        I guess I like your form of babbling. I could read it all day long!

        TO: Girl involved in argument….what is your side of the story?? 😉

  2. 4 Keep Babbling Mr. P
    June 16, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Also at swankified bar: the dude dressed in all white lederhosen-ish outfit. Weird.

    Our intent was to go see how pretty Nanjing Lu looked at night with all the lights.

    As an innocent bystander who remembers the situation… lets just say it started with chicken nugget abuse.

    That was the night where drunk british dude staggered into the room at like 4am, knocked over a bunch of empty beer bottles in the middle of the room, and breathed a horribly pungent explanation of “i’m wasted” into my face to apologize for the racket.

    Still can’t believe you tried the fat. I dont think I have ever mustered the courage/desire/masochism to try it in my entire life.

    You described the pizza paranoia PERFECTLY. love it.

    • June 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm

      oh yeah, the guy running around with shorts and a short-sleeved shirt with long socks and a tie? awesome.

      i just assume that it started with some abusive comment that was taken to be more abusive than comedic (a mistake you people still make from time to time – when will you learn? :)) unless it was just outright abusive, in which case i really don’t remember what happened.

      i slept through the british hurricane that hit the room, so there’s no memory of that. but i take your word for it.

      “pizza paranoia.” lol. for some reason it was really strong that day. i guess cause the pizza was amazing.

      thanks, ma’am!

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