March 9, 2008

Ni you wenti ma?

The next post, I mean, the one after this one, I dedicate to you. Do you have a question for me? Ask me anything -- anything at all (well, hopefully it'll be Shanghai-related) -- and I'll answer your question(s) in the next post. You can ask me by commenting on this post or sending me an email. If you don't know me, and I know there are several people who fit that description reading this, I double-encourage you to ask.

If you're embarrassed to be seen asking how many bunions I have on my feet, let me know and I'll keep your name out of it ;-)

I'll wait a couple days before responding. If I get a good number of questions, I"ll make this a quasi-regular "feature" on this here blog.


Yesterday I visited Xujiahui, an area in southwest Shanghai. In ye olden days it was a Jesuit mission, but today it's the site of Shanghai's only Best Buy, several gigantic mega-malls, and Metro City. It's basically where the gadget hounds go. There wasn't much sightseeing to do there, but I did take the tour of an old Jesuit library, the Biblioteca Zi-Ka-Wei. According to the Lonely Planet guide, it was established in 1847 and has over 560,000 volumes in Greek, Latin, and other languages.

The tour honestly was pretty boring because you just go into the main library (Dashu Fang) and walk from one end to the other along a prescribed path. I understand why they don't let you open the books, and it's not like I'd understand them if I could, but I seeing words like Philosophica and Theoretica and whatnot all over the place just piqued my curiosity. I'd love to show you what I'm talking about, but they don't allow picture taking. Boo.

There was some other cool stuff there, like an old map of what the entire Jesuit mission complex used to look like. I tried to appreciate the atmosphere, but the horn-honking from all the cars out on Caoxi Bei Lu kind of ruined that for me. Oh well.

On the first floor of the library is the Wan Fung art gallery, and I did find some cool paintings here. There were a lot of ones featuring cats and dogs, strangely enough. But they did allow picture taking. I'll post those later.

After that I tried going to a bookstore listed in the guide, but it was apparently closed. It was raining at that point so I decided to go home.

One bright spot was that, in the Xujiahui metro station, there's this woman selling tons of framed art for super-cheap. I'm going to make it a point to go back there and buy some before I leave, because some of it looked pretty cool.

Later that night I watched The Darjeeling Limited with some friends and then went to see Infected Mushroom. Taking a cab over to the club was fun, because I got Wulumiqi Lu and Urumuqi Lu confused. Then I found out they're supposedly the same road, or that Wulumuqi was renamed to Urumuqi or something. I'm sure the taxi driver thought I was nuts when I kept saying "No, I don't want Urumuqi Lu, I want Wulumuqi Lu." Hell, I thought I was nuts. Oh well.

The music was okay, but the club sucked. It was way too small and crowded for such a huge show, and we spent like an hour total just in the coat check line. I spent the rest of the night getting punched and shoved, like I was in a mosh pit, every time some guy decided to move past me, and that was pretty dang often. After the band left the stage I tried to order a bottle of water, and they wanted 35 RMB ($5). I said hell no and got one for 1 RMB at the drug store next door. Sheesh. I'm pretty sure I won't ever go there again.

The taxi ride home was great though, because I totally had a conversation with the driver. I understood most of what he was saying, and vice versa. I felt really proud of myself :-D

When I got home I tried to turn on the light and the lightbulb blew, or there was a surge or something. I saw a flash and heard a bang, then all the lights in my place went out. Dammit, not again! The power had gone out (or so I thought). It was 3 AM so I decided to just tough it out for the night.

This morning my aiyi woke me up around 9:30 because she was trying to get in and I'd locked the deadbolt from the inside. I'm starting to sound like a broken record here, but I'm really proud that I understood her on the phone given that I'd had like 6 hours of sleep and had been awake for all of 1 second when she started speaking.

I told her about the light, but we discovered that I still had power (dia, I think she said in Chinese) -- it was just the lights that didn't work. I guess they're on a separate line or something. I called my landlord, he sent someone over (to be fair, he's a really awesome landlord) and that guy showed me where my circuit breaker is. I flipped the switch and presto, back in light. So nice :-)

I showered and got dressed and headed out to Nanjing Xi Lu for lunch with some co-workers. We ate at this pretty nice place on the 12th floor of one of the shopping plazas right there. The food (Shanghainese snacks) was pretty good, and it was nice talking with them.

After that I saw that the sun had come out. I stopped back at my place to pick up my camera, then I stauntered around Century Park for awhile, just watching people and taking pictures. When it's nice out, that place is pretty cool. And it's right next to my house, which is awesome. Some time I'm going to have to ride the cart thing, this toned-down roller coaster that they have there. It was pretty fun.

Then I got a foot massage, stopped for a 2 kuai snack of seasoned bread at a bakery right near my house, and, well, now I'm here typing this :-)


Okay, that's my weekend so far -- now send in those questions!!

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