Saturday, August 2, 2008

Productive start to August

Sadly, today I have spent entirely on uploading pictures to facebook. I finally finished the week of May Holiday, and am now only three months behind on photos instead of four, wooo! Though I'd like to clarify it only took so many hours because the computer I'm using is incredibly slow, Not because I'm a moron. Plus I make sure everything is in chronological order, tagged properly, etc....I'd say my albums are pretty stellar.

Yesterday was much more exciting; Kelly and her parents took me to Zhouzhuang Village, an hour and a half outside of Shanghai. Though they'd all been there before, none of them recognized the place when we arrived because it's now become so commercialized; whatever was there previously (probably houses) has been replaced by stands of small stores, each selling the same touristy junk. Even after we passed through the official entrance, we still saw nothing for a while but crap shops and stands selling the famous local dish, pigs' hooves.

Once we actually reached the village it was pleasant enough to walk through; in older times it was a water-way town, think mini-Venice. Don't feel it was worth the 100 rmb ticket, but I guess it's a worth-seeing-at-least-once kind of thing. The bridges and streams and old houses were excellent for trying artsy stuff with my camera- working with different lighting and angles, black&whites, that sort of thing. I imagine it used to be incredibly relaxing to live there, along the water, before the tourists started coming (and being artsy all over the place). Then for dinner, they offered to take me to a really nice Korean restaurant since I mentioned I enjoyed Korean food after living in Dalian for a semester. I fell asleep in the car and when I woke up....we were outside Ben Jia!! I hadn't realized they were a chain, I just thought they only had the Dalian branch because of the Little Korea there....

After being dropped off at home I enjoyed a long, cold shower (out all day in the Shanghai heat, not pleasant), then went to The Hut to chill for a couple hours. Accurately described to me as 'the dive bar of dive bars,' it eased me back into the expat scene- which I sadly don't plan on becoming a big part of when I return to Dalian. Should've saved the shower for after The Hut though...I decided I'd walk home since the apartment was a few blocks away, but with the winds gone, even at midnight it was about 85% humidity, making it feel like 90 F (thank you, weather channel).

So I've got a few relatives here, who(m?) I've been somewhat ignoring all day; they're saying goodbyes to my eldest aunt and middle aunt who leave for the States tomorrow. Funny thing is I postponed my trip to Shenzhen so I could see the bunch, yet I've spent maybe ten minutes total in the same room as them (dinner) and then leave before they do tomorrow morning for the airport. I rationalize it that they'd be discussing people and things I don't know about anyway, and all in Chinese that's above my level. But to be honest, I also don't feel like talking about what my goals in life are and what I'm doing with my future because that's where the conversation always ends up. No surprise, they're the relatives on my dad's side. Plus my baby cousin is here and I really don't like children. They're always sticky, they're always throwing stuff, and they're so gosh darn needy.

As for Shenzhen, I leave out of Hongqiao tomorrow; got an 8:20 flight and E's picking me up at the airport at noon. My father got pissed cause he's a concrete planner and I'm a go with the flow-er, so after a week of arguing about travel ideas he told me I'm on my own and that I'll just have to "beg" for money from him when I return to Shanghai. I'm pretty sure I can make my 4500 rmb last eight days in Shenzhen, even with three or four daily trips into Hong Kong and saving some for my big weekend with Carol in Shanghai when I return. It's almost 650 USD, I think I've got bigger problems if I blow that much in a week.

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