Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Shanghai Shananigans

Shanghai, China...

The business capital of the country. A huge metropolis of skyscrapers, lights, and fancy restaurants...yet pretty much NO ONE speaks English.

Luckily, my fluent yet slim knowledge of Mandarin consists of four words...Nee-hau (Basically - "hello"), Shi-Shea (thank you), La-wai (foreigner) and Yo-gwai (right turn).

As you can imagine, doing things can be a little challenging, but at least I can get places provided I figure out a route consisting of only right turns ;)

It is a MAJOR bonus having my friend Gina living here though. For starters, her company has her living in the Marriott Executive Apartments in Union Square. Upon my arrival, she has been staying with her boyfriend downstairs, so I have a whole, huge suite overlooking downtown Shanghai, all to myself. This is easily the nicest place I've ever stayed at.

Not exactly "backpacking" around China, but I'll take it ;)

Then there's the added bonus that, since Gina and Aaron have lived here for almost two years, they pretty much know all the best places to eat, shop, etc.

I also conveniently met a girl on the plane over to Shanghai that showed me around for a couple of days. It's amazing to get the history and Chinese perspective on different things from a local!

For the most part, you can get things for dirt cheap around here. Now, things aren't necessarily of the same quality, and you have to haggle quite a bit to get a fair "Chinese Price", but still, when you can have a seven course dinner for 10 bucks and get a personally tailored shirt for $12, you're doing pretty well.

And speaking of food, I've had a lot of it. I know what you're thinking..."Gee Arun, BIG surprise that you're eating a lot, but I want to know if you've had anything CRAZY!??"

Good Question. So far, my friends have made me try Duck Brain, Chicken Heart, Chicken Cartilage, Octopus, Jellyfish, and Beef Stomach.

I wouldn't necessarily order any of it on my own, but they were actually NOT repulsive.

And what are these "Shananigans" that I speak of? I'm glad you asked.

- Yesterday we went to the Shanghai Wild Animal Park. But this is no ordinary zoo. If you pay 20 Kuai, you can ride this bus through the tiger, lion, cheetah, and bear reserves...but there's a catch.

The bus doesn't have walls, but rather a cage. When you go through, the animals basically start climbing up on the sides of the cage/bus/deathtrap. Why are they climbing onto it? Because on the sides are these little shoots that people drop live chickens through.

Basically, passengers buy a chicken from the driver, dangle and tease the lions/tigers/whatever with it, then drop it down the shoot for them the tear apart and devour.

Awesome to see in real life, but also a little scary, being nose to nose with and smelling tiger breath. Ironically, HE was the one roaming free, and WE were in the cage.

Oh, and in typical Chinese form, while we were bussing around, someone left one of the gates open one of the cheetahs almost escaped into the deer/camel/wildabeast habitat. Can you imagine the carnage that would've taken place? After a long delay in which the cheetah was salivating across the last ditch safety barrier, he was shoe'd back across and the gate closed.

Oh and we got to see 10 baby Pandas too. Seriously, is there ANYTHING cuter than baby pandas???

- Massages are really cheap in China...but sometimes you have to work to find a "decent" place.

And by "decent" I don't mean "good", I mean a place that won't try a sex you up.

I walked into one the other day to check it out. Some very attractive women opened it. I took a look at the "massage menu" with the different types of massages and the prices. The receptionist pointed to one and said "this best!" I read the English description:

"We take you to deepest realms of pleasure with three therapists working on you. One dressed as nurse, one dressed as student, one prepared for body to body ecstasies..."

I can't remember the rest, but for some reason, I had a feeling that this place wasn't on the up-and-up. Suffice it to say, I left and found a place that didn't describe what the therapists are wearing on the the menu ;)

- The Fourth of July was interesting. You see, although "technically" illegal, you can still buy fireworks in the city, and $300 goes a LOT further in China than it does in the United States.

So, on Independence day, we found a nice little courtyard in an upscale apartment complex, and let em rip. The stuff we bought was basically enough pyrotechnics for a professional fireworks show.

Apparently, the apartment residents weren't so stoked on our amazingly bright and noisy fireworks display exploding feet away from there windows ;)

We were kicked out by security afterwords, but it was WELL worth it.

So today, I'm leaving for Australia. I'm going to make sure to get to the airport EXTRA early, because we all know what happened in Beijing ;)


elcylee said...

I plan on statying at the mariott executive suite in Shanghai Union sq section for 7 weeks. First time in Shanghai. Can you give me any recommendations on internet speed, nearby places to eat, and things to do on the weekend.

Arun said...

Unfortunately, I'm pretty useless in terms of places to eat...there's a couple of good restaurants in the mall nearby but I had the luxury of having friends that lived in Shanghai and took me everywhere.

Definitely check out Century park. Its walking distance. also, take the fairy across the river.