Chopsticks, Starbucks and a Strange Mascot that Resembles Toothpaste
02.20.2010 - 02.22.2010 65 °F
Well, I'm a little behind on my blog but I can - with confidence - blame this on the fact that I was not able to sleep Friday night because of the time of my flight (had to get to the airport at 2 am for 4:30 am flight) and the fact that I have lost yet another 2.5 hours of my life to the mysterious timezone no-man's land.
My flight from Delhi to Dubai was actually quite enjoyable. Despite what I always thought, Dubai isn't actually made out of gold, but there was quite a bit of gold for sale at the airport anyway... being a jewelry addict I was looking forward to spending some hard earned money on a bracelet, necklace, earrings, anything really. Sadly, I seriously underestimated the price of gold in Dubai. I tried on two beautiful, delicate and very light bangles (price is by weight) for the modest sum of $1500-ish. Needless to say, I politely took them off and then removed myself from the counter...
The problem is I got quickly used to a 1st class lifestyle. You see, I was given a free upgrade to 1st class on Emirates airline! Not sure why, but who am I to argue. You'll notice in my pics that I'm a nerd and not only took pics of the BEAUTIFUL lounge in Dubai, but of the plane itself. I had a private little room where the seat fully extended into a bed, had a flat screen TV and I could close the riff raff out with my doors. Very fancy. The airport in Delhi was a terrible experience (lots of people, flight was delayed, they mass loaded the plane, ugh!) so the plane was a huge contrast. The flight from Dubai to Shanghai was less fancy and not as exciting, but I can't complain.
OK - enough about my 11 hours of flying 7 hours out of my way West, then back East. On to China!
I have to admit that I have always wanted to go to China. As an International Relations and Political Science major focusing on Human Rights, I don't think I had a single class that didn't include some study on this country. If I weren't too lazy to learn Mandarin, who knows where my life would have taken me! But unfortunately (or fortunately depending on perspective) I went for Italian because of my love for their food, music and the whole romantic appeal of Italy. Anyway, I digress... my point was that I've had a lifelong fascination with China and to be here is to truly realize one of my life's desires. Kinda a cool feeling.
So, China! I've had quite a bit packed into the past 2 days, so I'll summarize where I've gone:
1. "Fake" market: While an enjoyable experience it turns out I'm too much of a snob to fully give myself over to the fake-ness of the market. This is where you can buy D&G, Coach, LV, etc., for a fraction of the price b/c it is a copy of the original... sometimes a good copy but at the end of the day I still knew it was fake! That said, it was also an area to buy lots of local handicrafts and gifts, so I still managed to buy gifts for myself and others. And, with 8 days left in the country we all know I will likely break down and buy some type of designer fake.
2. Yu Garden: These are the more "traditional" pictures that you see in my gallery. My favorite is the very traditional building with the Starbucks in the bottom. It's a relief to be somewhere that I can buy my Grande 2 pump skinny vanilla latte. Fortunately some things are universal. Anyway, a lot of decorations are still up for Chinese New Year (It's the Year of the Tiger!) so I have some cool pics. It was a great experience - crowded, but despite that I really enjoyed things!
3. Area around the hotel has some shopping and the random pictures of little giant kids (may make sense if you see the pics) that seem to have something to do with the World Expo that will be here in May... as well as the:
4. Strange mascot that looks a bit like toothpaste. His real name is "Haibao", which is created from a Chinese character meaning people. To see a hip hop dancing Haibao follow the link below. Totally worth the extra work to find it. Anyway, Haibao has become the "Where's Waldo" of China for me as he shows up everywhere...
That's the main points for now! The rest of this week should be fun... tomorrow night the Bund, Wednesday night the Shanghai Circus, Thursday night some more shopping then off to Xi'an to see the Terra Cotta Soldiers for the weekend on Friday!
Check back later this week for more pictures and musings.