Sunday – Skyscrapers and feet pampers

Tim planned another trip downtown for Sunday. Allyson and I ate our usual breakfast of bao, yogurt, and bananas before our 45 minute trip into the city. Allyson gets her daily caffeine fix from green tea from the Anhui province which she bought from our new friend Eric, a local tea vendor. I, however, love my coffee so I brought along 2 pounds from the US to curb my cravings. Unfortunately I’m trying to make the 2 pounds last awhile so no coffee on the weekend 😦 It’s awful! We played the game MASH with Robin on the bus ride and it looks like I’m going to be a supermodel married to Edward Norton living in New York City. Unfortunately, I’m only going to make 1 cent an hour so I guess I’m not a very good super model. Robin was not happy that she had to be a bridesmaid in my wedding but she agreed to it once I reassured her that she would not have to wear a dress. Penny, Robin’s mother, is a chemistry professor at a university in Connecticut. She took a one year sabbatical from her job to come here and live in Cheng du. Her husband planned on joining the family but circumstances prevented him from being able to come. Robin is learning to say, “I’m adopted,” in Chinese so she can tell this to the many Chinese people who stare at her as she walks down the street hand-in-hand with a white lady. She’s a real cutie and I think she’s loving the attention she gets from the 17 of us. Her mother plans to homeschool her if the schools in Cheng du are not up to par. Robin’s not a fan of spicy food but she’ll have to get used to it if she’s going to live in the land of Sichuan peppercorns! Like us, she might just resort to a diet of bao for the next year.

Downtown, we visited the largest shopping area in Shanghai then headed to the Bund to see the water and the financial center across the way. Having already seen the Bund earlier in the week, Allyson and I posted up on a platform to wait for the others to take pictures. Bad idea. It was like placing a sign on our foreheads that said, “Free pictures with the Waiguoren men (foreigners)!” Three different groups of Chinese people came up and motioned to take a picture with us. We agreed and threw up the standard peace sign with our adoring Chinese fans. One girl even had us pose with her ancient-looking mother! Afterwards we joked that we should start charging people. Not a bad idea if we are going to buy more knock-offs purses. “Repeat after me, ‘Chanel. Chanel.'”

After the Bund, we drove a block (literally) to a restaurant for lunch. After a hearty meal of edamame, duck, “rat-ear” mushrooms, and some other tasty dishes, we drove across the river to the financial district and took a high-speed elevator to the top of the world’s third largest building. The view blew our minds! Shanghai is even bigger than we thought. It seems like the cityscape stretches on forever in all directions. Buildings upon buildings upon buildings! On the hundredth story, the floor is made of clear glass so you can look down at the street below. I’m a little scared of heights so I smacked Allyson when she pretended to push me out the window. NOT FUNNY! Next to this building, the Chinese have begun a new building that will be 400 stories tall! Guess we will have to come back and see it in 8 years.

One of our TESL teachers, Robbie, married a BEAUTIFUL Chinese girl named Cindy about two years ago. She looks like a porcelain doll. Allyson and I ogle at her all day haha! After a long week of walking around the dirty streets of China (Old man spit, baby pee-pee, etc.) Allyson and I felt the need for a pedicure. Cindy called her spa and made appointments for each of us. With an address written in Chinese characters, we flagged down a cab and headed to West Nanjing Road. We forgot, however, that we would not be able to communicate with the nail technicians to tell them what we wanted. Allyson ended up pulling her foot up above the table and pointing at her toes, both no-no’s in China. First of all, you don’t show the bottom of your feet to anyone whether you’re sitting cross-legged in a chair or trying to show someone your toes in a spa! Second of all, you don’t point. Way to go Allyson! The technicians got the idea, however, and went to work on our tootsies. And by work I mean work! Our feet were disgusting. I’m sure they were talking about us nasty american girls in peasant shoes (flip-flops) and sports clothes (all the girls wear dresses and heels here 24/7) but it’s okay because we couldn’t understand anyways. Oh, the advantages of being an ignorant foreigner – perpetual peace of mind.

We ended the day with some more Uigyer noodles and snapped a quick pic of the dish’s Chinese name on Allyson’s iphone so we could order it in the future (See Mom and Dad, this is why Elle needs a new smart phone. I promise I won’t let anyone else borrow it!). We then walked around West Nanjing and East Nanjing Road, the best shopping streets in the city. We ate snickers and m&m’s and felt poor again as we peered in shop stores at REAL Chanel purses. “Daddy, can I borrow $1,000 please?” Well, at least we have pretty toes now. It’s funny, in Shanghai there are many white faces but none of the foreigners talk to each other. If you try and talk with a pale passerby-er, he’ll snub you and laugh to himself about the “newbs.” It’s fun trying to figure out what country everyone is from though. A lot of Europeans speaking German, French, and many other exotic languages. Don’t worry Andrew, no cute boys. 🙂  Just middle-aged couples fumbling with maps and businessmen rushing back to their 5 star hotels. Speaking of 5 star hotels, we went in one while on the Bund. Great, great bathroom. Even had toilet paper! We stopped into the bar to check out the rare Chinese jazz band but were immediately asked to leave when we didn’t buy any drinks. 45 kuai for just a coke! Just another remainder that we may be richer than the average Chinese person but we are still no Blair Waldorfs or Serena van der Woodsons. Phooey!

Made it back home on the Metro again. Great success. AND made sure to use the bathrooms at the McDonalds before heading into the terminal. McDonalds is actually one of the nicest restaurants you can go to in China. It’s more like a Starbucks than a fast food joint. Still no toilet paper though, but I’ve gotten into the habit of carrying some with me at all times. Oh, and speaking of bathrooms (yes, good bathrooms are VERY, VERY IMPORTANT in China), the bathrooms in the skyscraper were awesome! They even had bottom washers. Cool huh? And most importantly, they weren’t squatty-potties. Whoop whoop! So onto the metro we climbed. This time we boarded the wrong train on line 11 but luckily asked a Chinese rider before it took off. We got off then posted up in front of the door. You have to be ready to pounce as soon as the train arrives if you want a seat. As soon as the doors open, the crowd swarms in, not even pausing to let passengers off. We saw a little girl almost get trampled as people pushed and shoved to get onto the coveted benches. Allyson and I are starting to like the free-for-all experiences in China but we’ll see if this feeling lasts come National Day! On the train, we watched three cute little kids play on the nasty floor of the train – sticking their fingers in each others mouths, grabbing the poles, touching their faces, and so on. Cute but gross. Oh, China. Once we arrived in North Jiading, we walked outside the station to flag down a taxi. As soon as we stepped onto the sidewalk, we were bombarded by a group of young guys who motioned towards their motorcycles offering to give us a ride. Are you kidding me??? “BU YAO! (No want!)” They hounded us for a little bit but eventaully gave up and just stood behind us whispering to each other. Allyson said they were talking about us saying, “Talk to them, talk to them.” “I can’t. They don’t understand.” It was harmless and funny and we laughed about it as we jumped in a cab and drove home. What can we say, we’re celebrities!

Love you all! Allyson will post some pictures!

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