Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Shanghai Surprise(s)

We got here fine. Well, we’re fine now. We weren’t doing too great after a 12-hour flight, but we slept very well and managed to wake up at a normal time, and now we feel fine. Our hotel is much nicer than I expected. Shanghai is an exciting and constantly surprising city.

A pleasant surprise: I only made one real packing mistake, but it was a doozy: I forgot the power cord for my computer. Remarkably, there is an authorized Apple reseller one subway stop away from our hotel at a huge electronics emporium called Cybermart. It was very easy to buy a new cord. So now I’m up and running, and obviously even able to access my blogging site. It’s amazing how much things have changed in China in 15 years. In 1992, it was an afternoon project to call home. This morning I spoke to my parents using Skype and my computer. It was easy and cost about 20 cents.

After breakfast, Pipi and I went to a Carrefour store, which was an interesting experience. Carrefour is a French chain, sort of like Wal-Mart, but more upscale. A grocery store is a major component, and it’s full of Western treats. There are lots of Asian things there, too—in fact, almost all of the patrons there were Asian. But it occurs to me that it might be like the Shanghai equivalent of Ranch99. I imagine the locals wander the aisles and think to themselves, “Ugh, fried potato slices? Pureed tomato gunk for pasta? People really eat these things?”

One quintessentially Chinese treat they have at Carrefour is White Rabbit candy. I think I’ve already documented my love of these candies. Pipi likes them too, and the last time we were here, we made a pilgrimage to the factory. To my surprise, we discovered a new flavor this morning: corn. No, really. How well you like corn White Rabbit candy depends not just on your feelings about creamed corn, but also on how far outside of the candy box you’re willing to think. I kind of like creamed corn, but I haven’t yet decided if I can accept it as a candy flavor. I understand that a lot of conventional western candy flavorings like cocoa, mint, and vanilla are really vegetable and plant products, but this may be too big of a leap for me.

Shanghai did welcome us with one other surprise: a typhoon. It’s been alternating between pouring and torrential rain all day. They’re forcasting 200 milimeters, which is, uh, a lot of rain. (China is a nice place, but it’s no Liberia; they use the metric system here.) We’re supposed to go to a soccer game tonight. We’ve come so far that we can’t possibly skip it, so we’ll go and get soaked supporting the US women. The game is on ESPN. Look for us—we’ll be the slightly dazed, very wet, poncho clad Americans. Also, we’ll be the only people in the stands. We shouldn’t be hard to spot.
Here are some photos.

No comments: