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Shanghai or Bust!

Hey all! As I mentioned in the tag box, I'm alive and back from Shanghai. {Editor's note: My dad keeps calling it "The Big Smoke", and I don't know why. Is this some dated reference, or am I just completely out of the loop?} Sorry it took me so long to sit down and tell everyone about the trip, but I got a brand spanking new cold as soon as I returned, so I didn't really feel up to doing much of anything. It's not as bad as the last cold, which had me passed out asleep for three days. This is mostly just a nasty cough and a really sore throat. This makes it hard for me to teach, so I just get the kids to talk more. Yay for talking kids.

I enjoy typing the following sentence: I went to Shanghai for the weekend!

I'm sorry, I just find that so damned kewl. I'm obviously far too young to be actually doing this.

So, let's start from the beginning. I got myself to the bus depot here in Jiangyan by the simple act of getting on a rickshaw. {Editor's note: I didn't look that hard for a pic, so it's a lousy one. Sorry.} I spend a lot of time just getting into these things and pointing at what it says in my guide book. (On a related note: Teresa got me the best going away gift: a guide book. It's already tattered by how much I keep refering to it.) So, they drove me to this one place that I had walked by last week, and couldn't tell what it was. However, the driver was insistent, so I walked in.

I haven't been to most countries, so I'm making a large generialization here: Bus depots are the same no matter where you go. They all have a smell to them that means "bus depot".

I took out the nice notes that Lily had written for me, and walked bravely up to the counter. I was a bit nervous, but hey, what's the worst that could happen, right? The note said, in English and Chinese, "Ticket to Nantong", which is where I was meeting with Paul.

The woman started talking in Chinese. I put on my best "I'm a little lost foreigner" look (I have a great "I'm a little lost forienger" look, by the way), and said "I'm sorry, I don't speak Chinese." She looked at me, talked to a few people around her, and then wrote on the note "No", and handed it back.

I blinked. I blinked again. I said "Why?", as though she was suddenly going to learn English.

Lucky for me (because I am the luckiest person alive), the man standing next to me had enough English to explain what was going on. He told me there were no buses to Nantong. I panicked. I had no way of contacting Paul. I asked him if there was another way. He took a map out of his bag, and started looking at places, and then said "Follow me!" {Editor's note: This reminds me of sandals that prostitutes would wear in Greece and Rome. The footprints left behind would have "Follow Me" written in them However, there was no hanky-panky, but he did start hitting on me on the bus, which was fun.}

He had me buy a ticket to... um... somewhere else, and told me that there, I would be able to get to Nantong. He was going to the same place, so he'd make sure I was okay.

We sat in the bus depot for a bit. He asked me a few questions ("Are you from Australia?" {Editor's note: I get asked this a lot. I'm asked second if I'm American.} "Are you married?" "Is this your first trip to China?"). A lot of people were staring at me, which was not fun. But he told them all where I was from, and tried to ask me their questions, but it had been so long since he learned English he couldn't remember it all. We laughed a lot.

Then we got on the bus. It was a little bus, uncomfortable, not a lot of space. The man sitting in front of me had a cat on a leash, which I found very cute. Ah, I miss my cat...

We talked a lot more on the bus. I found out his name is Liang Li Long, and he worked for a company that built bikes that folded up, and had little batteries. Not really mopeds, but kinda like them. He also speaks Korean. I'm the first foreigner he ever met. At one point he told me that all Americans have blue eyes. He also insisted I had gold hair. I decided not to argue. After that. he started giggling, staring at my face for a bit. He finally said, gesturing to me, "Everything you have is bigger! Bigger nose, bigger eyes, bigger mouth, bigger...." and then gestured at my breasts. I found this incredibly funny.

Have I mentioned that I have the largest breasts in Jiangsu province? And I teach some 17 year old boys. Go me!

We saw goats on the way! Goats! Yay!

Anyway, he got me to wherever we were going, got my ticket to Nantong, and had to run. I wish I had either gotten a photo or grabbed his address from him.

Then I sat in the busdepot there for an hour, gazing at the big map across from me. This is when I discovered the truth: Maps are useless. I couldn't tell a thing from that map. I think the center was where I was, but I'm not sure.

Eventually they put me on the bus, and I got to watch a "great" movie, Wonder 7. Let's see what I can recall of the plot. Hmm... The beginning was kinda funny. It involved a bank robbery in Hong Kong. The criminals got into China through a fence, and shouted at the police "Bye! See you in 1997!" Then, the Wonder 7 captured them.

After that, it was typical kung-fu wackiness and angst. I was pretty tired so I missed most of it. But the beginning was good.

Then I got to Nantong. It was very overwhelming, and I finally ended up just sitting some place so I could watch for Paul. Before I did that, I looked around the bus station, because they were selling *tons* of stuff, including, but not limited to: cell phones, toys, food, condoms, and DVDs. I found the condoms to be amusing. I keep thinking that I'll buy a couple of packs just to send home.

Then Paul showed up, and told me that we wouldn't be able to take the Ferry, and we ended up taking the bus to Shanghai. It was a pretty boring trip, but Paul and I talked a lot. It's nice to have someone to talk to about stuff, and he had apples. Can't do anything wrong with apples, right?

I'm going to take a break here and update the rest later. I'm still pretty whiped from my cold.


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