29
Jun
10

Day 25: Zhujiajiao, Including Imagining the Gondolier’s Tour of the Canals

Hello!  Yes, yes.  Welcome to Zhujiajiao.  What?  Yes, ok, more slowly then: Joo-Jeeaw-Jeeow.  I know what you’re thinking – it looks like Venice, yes?  With canals and gondolas and so many people everywhere.  But trust me, you’re still in China, heeheehee!  Do you see the lanterns and architecture?  It’s like I told you – still in China!!

lunch on the canal

See?  Just like Venice, yes?

But look, you see the lanterns?

canal bridge

Now you see – still in China, see?

Please, walk down this narrow, flimsy plank onto my gondola.  You think that it will break, but it is strong, see?  Yes, all five of you please come.  It is not too much weight for me.  I am a tiny woman, and you can not imagine that my frail arms will propel us with vigor, but do not worry.  I have been doing this all my life and I am strong.  You will see.

zhujiajiao gondolas

Yes, see?  Here we go.  I am not having trouble.

Look, at that alley over there yes?  When we are done you can go there to the small shooting gallery to shoot at colored balloons with a pellet gun.  Or you can go to one of the many other shooting galleries in the other alleys if you please.  See, just like in Venice!

For lunch, look, see?  You can stop anywhere to eat our glorious sea snails.  Do you see everyone else eating them?  That’s because they are so delicious like joyfulness.  Or perhaps you will choose to eat a whole fish served with jubilance and triumph and a dish of scrambled eggs, fish, and onions.  Yes, that is probably what you will do.  Though it must be a horrible dish if you do not enjoy onions.  And please, try our special wine, even though it is so unusual that you probably will not enjoy it immensely.  But please, try it!

gone fishin

Look!  That man might be catching your lunch right now, do you see?  He will make you a fragrant and emotional dish.  And do you see here, please look.  This was my old boat, but I experienced an unfortunate accident.  Heeheeheehee no, no, I am not being serious!  I am a much better driver than that, you will see.

seaworthy

Heeheehee!  I am joking most light-heartedly!

And yes, now we are back.  You hardly noticed my movements, I know, but I am strong and determined and I maneuvered us through the canals with ease.  Even when we had to turn around I did not appear to struggle mightily, did I?  No no, sir, if you tried we would not go anywhere, I’m sure.  It takes many many years- Sir, please don’t grab the oar from my- Sir!  Please stop!  You are not qualified.  Ok, yes now, back up the narrow, flimsy plank, thank you, thank you.  May the gloriousness of the fragrant sun bestow upon you smiles and encouraging thoughts!

man and his boat

After the gondola we wander.  Sneaking semi-queasy looks at the huge bowls of snails being greedily devoured, and watching young children fire wildly in makeshift shooting ranges.  The smell of hunks of pork wrapped in leaves and tied up carefully with string makes my mouth water (the fish/egg/onion dish didn’t necessarily hit the spot for me since I despise onions – our gondolier hit it right on the nose).

I buy some handmade tea balls that, when dropped in hot water, slowly bloom to release long, delicate vines with flowers on the ends that float up near the surface, turning your (hopefully very tall and clear) glass into an underwater garden.  It is things like this that lead me to believe that Chinese people are much more awesome than we are.

Looking out over the canal.

bamboo window
Bamboo Windowframe

bum cafe: on the upper floor

If you’re looking for the Bum Cafe, you might want to try upstairs.

Back in Shanghai that night, we decide to find the most traditional fare available and so, of course, end up at a Cuban restaurant.  You know what they say – if there’s one place to get really good Cuban food . . .

But the meal is actually really fantastic and it looks like everyone who works here is a cubano autentico.  And the platano maduro (superipe yellow plantains sauteed in oil) are as good as any I had in Central America.  And the black beans with cotija cheese are an oh-so-welcome addition to our usual cuisine.  So I am one chico muy satisfecho.

We finally board an overnight train back to Beijing.  My good lord in heaven does springing for the soft sleeper ticket make a big difference!  With a hard sleeper you get triple bunks, a radio that doesn’t turn off, someone else’s dirty sheets – a less-than-pleasant night’s sleep.  With a soft sleeper, on the other hand, you get the Taj Mahal.  You get double bunks with enough space for you to sit down on them.  You get a personal tv playing “Taken” dubbed in Mandarin.  You get earphone jacks so you don’t bug the other people around you when watching the personal tv playing “Taken” dubbed in Mandarin.  You get fresh bedsheets.  You get to sleep on a cloud.  Soft sleepers are heaven.

And you dream about visiting the Great Wall verrrrrry soon!

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9 Responses to “Day 25: Zhujiajiao, Including Imagining the Gondolier’s Tour of the Canals”


  1. July 1, 2010 at 7:02 am

    LOVE this post! The story of your gondola ride as told from the perspective of the gondolier (sp?) is hilarious! I hope you enjoyed that ride!

    Oh, and the photos! Some real stunners here.

    I imagine by this time you are fairly bored with standard fare and that is why the cuban food tasted so damn good.

    ‘Soft Sleepers Are Heaven’ – you just might need to put that on a t-shirt! 🙂

    I’ll be sad when this journey ends… 😦

  2. 5 I hate tiny slimy fish.
    July 2, 2010 at 11:43 am

    funny, I dont remember the running gondolier commentary… But I DO remember tiny fish with scrambled eggs and onions and nasty booze. I didnt eat very much. Maybe I should cook that for myself and kick start some weight loss….:)

    Oh man…. I know what is coming up next and I CANT wait to relive the platform-stilleto wearing angel from hell and witch driver.

  3. July 11, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Gorgeous. These so reminded me of an indy film that I saw. Struggling to remember the name but I think it was The Mask or something like that (nothing to do with Jim Carey). Beautiful images and the film is beautiful also.


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