Greetings from the most populous country in the world!
I am happy to say that Allison and I have successfully made it to China and are settled into our temporary new digs. We are staying at the Jin Jiang New Asia Hotel in the Hong Kou district of Shanghai. No complaints yet...except that it appears that China has worked hard to keep me from accessing my blog!! So here it is, 1:19am Shanghai time and I have had to search for 3 hours to find a new proxy server just to post this update.
Our first full day in Shanghai went well enough...it was raining and hot at the same time- no amount of silicone product and flat iron could rescue Alli's hair, but thanks to my hairstylist Tarsha, mine is as straight as an arrow (Hurray!)
We woke up at 4am CN time and could not get back to bed, so we watched ballet (no language confusion there!) and chatted until the hotel restaurant opened for breakfast (早饭 zao fan- say zaowe fan) at 6:30am. The restaurant was already buzzing with "elderly" patrons, so we were stared at...and stared at...until everyone realized we were actually planning to eat there. Great food! We ate steamed dumplings, fried dumplings, and buns with red bean paste inside them. Yum.
After breakfast, we decided to pick a direction and walk till we found something interesting. We never did. It appears that we decided to walk directly into the manufacturing goods shopping area. While some may be turned on by the sight of transistors and cogs and sprockets- neither Alli or I were particularly turned on. I decided that we needed a taste of "real China" so we ducked into a market alley. It was amazing!! We saw all kinds of living seafood for sale and hundreds of different vegetables. So many colors and smells- too bad we had already eaten! At the end of the alley, there was a man selling jumbo prawns out of a wooden wash bucket. Really. They were alive and swimming around in the bucket- it was amazing!. As Allison peered over to take a look, one leaped out of the bucket towards her! She almost had a heart attack! When the tears started, I knew it was time to go...but did not knowing where I was encourage me to buy a map?
Heck no, I can get us around, right?
Later in the morning (about 2 wandering hours later), we found a shopping paradise- Nanjing Road. We walked and walked (Alli whined and whined) all the while being offered various Gucci and Louis Vuitton handbags by dozens of street merchants. Allison was in her element- she was asked to be in several photographs (so cute!) and she always smiled for the camera...my little supermodel!
By 1pm, we were beat. We needed lunch and Alli said she needed a taxi! I quote,"Mommy, can't we just go back to our apartment? Please?" (Imagine hearing that 6-8 times!) My kid is a nut!
We stopped for lunch at a restaurant that insisted on seating us in the very front so we could serve as free advertising. We did- I think we should have gotten a cut of the afternoon's profits! Scary food alert, Allison wanted to have noodles with lunch and I could only understand that the noodles had seafood in them...seafood came alright. There were beautiful shrimp and SEA CUCUMBERS!!! big slimy chunks of grossness! No more noodles for us! We did have the most fantastic meal there though. When I get the ability (when China let's me, that is...)check out the pics of our roast duck appetizer and sweet and sour fish- Delicious!
BTW, we avoided the bathroom like the plague! We only went to the one in our hotel room (Alli was scared of the smells!)