Guest post – I’m ready to move to China* – Part 3

21 Jan

*except for that whole “speaking Mandarin” thing

I am pleased to announce that I’m starting the year off with something new on the blog.  My good friend and cousin, Matt came to visit me mid-October and before he left I gave him the idea of doing a guest post.  This is the final segment of the three.  To read segments one and two with his observations, click here.

Greetings all for a third time! We’re rounding the bend for the final lap here, people. Can it be that I’ve finally run out of things to say? That can’t be true: this is the Internet, where people never run of things to say, no matter how stacked the empirical evidence is to the contrary.  Here now is my final set of observations from my visit to China:

  • Friday afternoon is a bad time to visit a popular museum. This should be obvious, but I still got to find out first-hand at the Shanghai Museum. Lots of foreign tourists and well as Chinese tourists. (Just count the group guides with their flags!) And everyone was taking pictures of everything. I know that’s hardly a revelation, but seriously, how many photos of ancient Chinese bronzeware (or celadon vases) does someone need to really capture the essence of the exhibit? Camera use ranged from smart phones to “professional photographer”-quality cameras. My 5-year-old Sony digital was somewhere in between. Yeah, I took pictures too, but few and far between.  …I’ll get off that high horse now.
  • The Saturday before I left became “Inadvertent Movie-Watching Day.” In the morning I went to the Shanghai History Museum, where I spent about 45 minutes watching a film in the entrance hall. And that wasn’t even the whole running time! This film primarily covered the life of turn-of-the-century gangster Du Yuesheng from his early days through the civil war between the Nationalists and Communists through World War II. But the movie inexplicably broke away to also tell the stories of two famous Chinese actresses (Zhou Xuan and Li Xianglan). I felt that movie (which had English subtitles!!) gave me a fantastic look at the history of Shanghai through the first half of the 20th century. I recommend watching it (I don’t know the title), but maybe not while standing in the Shanghai History Museum foyer for an hour.
  • “Inadvertent Movie-Watching Day” was more than one movie! That afternoon at the Postal Museum (My hostess has covered that too well for me to add anything) I found myself watching another movie. This time it was “Romance in Philately” playing on a small TV (with English subtitles) in the 1980’s timeline area. At first I thought it was a simply a short promo for the Chinese Post Office: after flirting with the cute postal carrier, the hero visits multiple friends who by sheer coincidence all have elaborate stamp collections! It’s as if stamps are the coolest things ever in this movie world. But then the movie plot actually deepened: the cute carrier called the hero’s bluff (he tried to pass off his borrowed friends’ stamps as his own collection) and he had to regroup to win her heart. I admit, had I not been at the museum with my friend, I would have stood there and watched that entire movie too. (We ended up watching about 15-20 minutes worth.)
Movie details

Movie details

  • Everybody knows that the Bund-side of the Huangpu River is the best place for panoramic photos, but Suzhou Creek is a hidden jewel that can hold its own, skyline-wise.

Reflections on Shanghai 2 Reflections on Shanghai 7

  • Greta tried explaining to me about the two degrees of spiciness in Chinese food: I’ll paraphrase them as “heat” and “numb.” I couldn’t wrap my head around “numb” until we went out for Sichuan-style food the day before I left for home. (She covered this on her post of her favorite Sichuan restaurant in November.  To see it, click here.) One entrée was some spicy ribs that ended up perfectly encapsulating the “numb” concept: there’s not really any heat-based pain, just a weird buzz on your lips, like you’ve been trying to play the trombone or some other brass instrument. I can’t think of any dish States-side that replicates that feeling, so chalk one up for new experiences in China!
Not during the run to the airport, but to give you a sense of the number of people around

Not during the run to the airport, but to give you a sense of the number of people around

  • I’m notoriously famous for my last minute rushing regarding travel. (In fact, I barely made my initial flight to Shanghai from Chicago! I had to carry-on my large “camping” backpack…) So the Monday morning of my departure I resolved to break the trend. Alas, Fate had other plans. What should have been an easy transfer from Line 9 to Line 2 (and then to the Maglev) became unworkable thanks to crowds for the Line 2 transfer at Century Ave. so dense they came up the stairs from the lower platform! Is that normal at 9:30am? Was there an accident or a delay in the service? I didn’t know and didn’t care to find out. Summoning all the accumulated subway skills of the past week, I transferred to Line 6 instead. I took that to Line 7, and Line 7 to Longyang Rd. and the Maglev. And once again I was hustling for my flight, but at least this time I made it in time to check my bag!
  • At the airport I had 58.5 RMB left in my pocket. So I bought a decorative table mat for 58 RMB from a store next to the security check entrance. No monetary exchange for THIS traveler!

Matt and Greta - Pudong Skyline 1

And that’s it! Thanks for reading all about my Chinese experiences. Thank you both for letting me visit you and Li, and for letting me repeatedly take control of your blog. And best of all, I succeeded in not mentioning my favorite football team, the Chicago Bears, anywhere in these blog posts! No, wait… Aw fiddlesticks!

Matt

Thank you Matt for your posts and fresh view of visiting Shanghai!  If there are any questions for Matt, feel free to leave them in the comments – either he or I will do our best to give you an answer.  Looking at the photos of the Bund and blue skies remind me why I like living in Shanghai so much.  Anyone else want to come visit?

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16 Responses to “Guest post – I’m ready to move to China* – Part 3”

  1. ladyofthecakes January 21, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    Aw, I love Sichuan food… it’s Sichuan pepper that will give you that ‘numb’ feeling, I really enjoy the sensation, although it’s a bit weird at first 😉

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/sichuan_pepper

    Great guest post mini series!

    • Every Day Adventures in Asia January 21, 2014 at 10:54 am #

      Love Sichuan food too! Enjoyed Matt’s posts. It’s like a fabulous ‘return gift’ from kids parties – other kids can’t leave without being given a gift by the host. Must be so nice to revisit his trip on your blog. 🙂

      • gkm2011 January 21, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

        Yes, can’t believe how quickly the time passed! When are you coming to visit?

      • Every Day Adventures in Asia January 21, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

        Hoping for July… should have a better idea in the coming months….

      • gkm2011 January 21, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

        🙂

      • Matt January 28, 2014 at 6:48 am #

        I tried to do justice to Greta for the patience she showed waiting for me to finish. I think the posts turned out well! Glad you like them!

        This was somewhat of a departure for me. My usual “blog-like” material tends to be heavily football-based. Hence the dig at myself at the end of this post. The only way anyone else would get that is through the photos, and the ubiquitous presence of my sweatshirt.

      • Every Day Adventures in Asia January 28, 2014 at 11:07 am #

        Well… I enjoyed your new ‘avatar’ of blogging… gotta admit… football… um… er… not really my thing 😉

    • gkm2011 January 21, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed it! I will accept others – but of course that means you need to come visit me in China!

    • Matt January 28, 2014 at 6:36 am #

      Weird is a good way of describing the numbness. That Sichuan catfish really was great. And I’ve lived in South Louisiana: they know catfish down there! Honestly though, I was pretty impressed by the tofu ribbons as well: I’d never seen those before.

      Thank you for reading my perspectives. I’m glad you liked them.

      • ladyofthecakes January 28, 2014 at 6:38 am #

        Oooooh, those tofu ribbons! They are delish 🙂

  2. Rude Boy Abroad January 26, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

    Wait, so what was the title about? I’d been figuring that Part 3 would contain the revelation that your cousin was now moving to China, haha.

    Either way I enjoyed it though.

    • gkm2011 January 26, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

      I admit the title is misleading – but I’d like to challenge Matt to answer that question himself!

      • Matt January 28, 2014 at 6:28 am #

        All right then! The title comes from Greta teasing me while I was visiting. I was enjoying my surroundings and the new culture so much, Greta kiddingly asked me if I was ready to move here. I have a penchant for being a rolling stone: currently live in Corpus Christi, by way of Cajun Country (LA), Washington DC, Richmond, central Indiana, and mid-Michigan. My dream going forward is to catch on internationally, although given my petroleum expertise that would probably send me to the less desirable parts of Central/South America, the Middle East, or Siberia. (Side note: those locations actually appeal to me. En serio.)

        But to make a long story short, mentally I would love the opportunity to work/live in China. My post titles represent the instinctual enthusiasm from such a consideration, with a sly nod to the onerous legwork needed to make that happen.

        Who knows? Maybe some day. In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy South Texas.

      • Rude Boy Abroad January 28, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

        Well if you ever make that move, be it to China or Brazil or Madagascar, do make sure to blog about it!

      • gkm2011 January 29, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

        I agree – and thank Matt again for his posts!

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