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Shanghai-Insulting or shafted and dealing with history

Yesterday was the first day in Shanghai. I left the hostel to explore the city, and went right to People's Square-the main square. Right away, I figured out I really didn't know where I was going-so I found the hop-on hop-off bus, which I got on. The bus took me to various sights, including where the communists members met, shopping streets, and finally the Bund, where I got off. The Bund is a large scenic street with lots of old buildings, and also a promenade which overlooks the majestic skyscrapers across the river. Being a beautiful warm, sunny day, I took pictures of flowers, and the skyline.

While I was there, A woman came up to me and spoke to me in halting English, and she asked me where I was from, and what I was doing there-she introduced me to her friend (a man). They mentioned they came from a town 2 1/2 hours away, and they we're exploring the city. They love the skyscrapers, they also mentioned they we're going to a tea festival, which intrigued me.

So I walked with them across a bridge to some older parts of the city, past some old, wooden buildings, and down the stairs into a little room with a 50ish woman serving tea, with many teas laid out in front of her. So just the four of us we're there. The lady on one side serving the teas, and my two new friends on either side of me. They told me about teas, how the word ti-chi comes from tea, and the proper way to drink the teas, taking three sips of each. The teas we're really good-none of that sour teabag taste I was used to.

Of course, and as the teaing went on-I wondered, who was paying-so after our fifth tea-I think it was jasmine, I said I wanted to know how much it was, and I wanted to stop having tea. It ended up costing about $30-$40 for all those teas-yet the other two people paid as well. So I wondered we're they trying to be genuinely friendly, or just trying to lure in an unsuspecting tourist. The man made a comment like "Perhaps we have custom you do not like"-and I felt guilty.IMG_2308.jpgIMG_2322.jpg

I walked back on the Bund, and got on the hop-on hop-off bus once again. This time I got off at YuYuan garden, a big temple with many Buddhas, and people praying, and an attached mall selling antiques, food, and the like. Here I sat down and participated in some show with a peep hole, and a guy showing pictures in the peep hole of a dragon coming down on Shanghai, and a big Buddha coming down on Shanghai as well I think. He spoke while this was going on-(in Chinese-so I have no idea what he said). I also decided to look for a Lonely Planet book-so I got a better idea what was going on in Shanghai. People at the market kept asking me what I was looking for-I told them, and they couldn't help me. They got annoyed when I wouldn't buy their watches and Jewelry.

They did direct me to a large bookstore several blocks away. So after taking the hop-on hop-off bus another time, I got off and tried to look for the bookstore. I did find it. The bookstore was 7 stories tall, and at the top-there was a section of Lonely Planet books-and I found one on Shanghai. As I flipped through the book-I found that a part of the book was waterlogged, and they pages we're soggy. There we're four other books, and and as I flipped through them-I found the same thing in each of the other books. I tried to ask the cashier if I can get some money off-because parts of the books we're waterlogged, and I couldn't turn the pages. i tried to separate the pages, and he haltingly said "that's not a good idea" It was only after a few moments that I realized it was the same 7 pages in each book that i couldn't read-and they we're glued together-it was the pages on the history of Shanghai-which i guess was censored by the government.

After that I went back to the Bund, and watched the sun setting on the waterfront. I walked around some woman said she wanted to talk to me because she never met foreigners in her hometown-2 hours away. I talked to her and she asked me if I wanted dinner and I said no. Then I walked around and went back to the hostel, because it was late.

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:53 Archived in China

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