Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Results of the Excursion

Well today proved very fruitful!

We ended up going to the popular outdoor shopping area, rather than a mall, so the heat was not there. However, I got much accomplished and am thoroughly happy right now:

--I enjoyed a baked sweet potato from a street vendor; a specialty I have recently become obsessed with since it is only available in the winter and I have always gone to China in the summer

--Then from another vendor my cousin and I got sticky rice cooked in bamboo stalks- she got a salty one, I chose a sweet one

--From there we stopped at the first of many novelty stores; where I found among other things a metal "acne remover," a penguin whose beak concealed a nail clipper, and corn flavored jelly.

--We also stopped for bubble tea- a must on any shopping trip of mine.

--For our next snack, we bought these little boats of four round spongy balls with vegetables inside and what curiously looked like octopus...

--At another novelty shop I saw fake Coach keychains that tried really, really hard to look authentic.

--Then I had my passport pictures taken in the classic Chinese style- no smiling! I look very ghastly.

--I also had my nails done; it cost only 20 yuan (about $2.50) whereas in the states it costs twenty dollars, minimum. The quality was almost just as good, and they did it without the attitude.

--We passed so many food stands; most of them I can't even describe but through pictures. However, I did stop for chicken on a stick- the stick was about 18 inches long!- and then flattened pork on a stick. Both were incredibly delicious, though dripping with grease. While my chicken was being grilled, some guys came up and ordered some squid as well. The raw squid looked scary but once grilled, it definitely looked appetizing.

--Finally, we stopped at a DVD store my cousin frequents where she knows the quality of the black market DVDs is good. Even the packaging and summaries looked high quality- the packages are hard plastic, the summaries are in English and actually pertain to the movie! I ended up buying 15 new releases (No Country for Old Men, Atonement, Juno etc.) for only 100 yuan total (almost 13 dollars) and we also rented Good Luck Chuck and Night at the Museum for 2 yuan for one night. The only difference renting here is that we had to put a ten dollar deposit on each DVD. Oh, and they had box sets too- House, Lost, The Office....It costs only 48 yuan for an entire season of Dexter!

So most of the money I spent actually went towards food, and even then it wasn't that much. We also bought a famous brand of mantou (buns) to eat on the walk home to distract us from our numb feet and hands.

The interesting thing is, even though this is the worst snow to hit Shanghai since 1949 (so my cousin says) it doesn't feel bad once you're walking in it- it's kind of a humid cold; my hands have actually become softer than they've been in weeks.

So our plans for Sichuan are currently on hold, as the weather is paralyzing most of China's travelers for the Chinese New Year, but I wouldn't mind spending the next three and a half weeks in Shanghai.

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