Edited to add links to things.
I love Shanghai.
I love the fact that there's a McDonald's just down the street from where the bus drops me off, and I can go down and buy a Big Mac.
I love that there's a Starbucks just a block away, and I indulged myself twice in caramel mochachino coffees. I love that they say mochachino completely different, but it tastes just the same.
Most of all, I love the fact that I just don't stand out in Shanghai.
I can be as cranky or unhappy in Shanghai as I want, without worrying about what people will think of me. No one will care. Just another one of the many foriegners in the city. I don't even have blonde hair to make me interesting.
Of course, the fact that I don't care enough to pretend to be happy means I always have a marvelous time in Shanghai. (Always. Don't I sound like I've been there a hundred times? I've been there all of twice, including this trip.)
Through an amazing amount of luck I managed to show up at the bar where the Shanghai Bloggers were meeting only about 15 minutes before they scheduled to be there. This is significant because I missed the last few emails saying when we were going to meet. I decided (since I hadn't been able to get ahold of anyone to even confirm where the damned bar was -- I only had the street name) that I would show up on the street around nine, and if I didn't find Amber I'd just look around till I found a place to dance. As much as I wanted to hook up with the guys, I wanted to dance more.
Micheal, Brad, and Phil all showed up pretty quickly. I felt really uncomfortable at first, but the guys really set me at ease quickly. We talked for a few hours, just rambling from conversation to conversation. It felt nice to just talk to a group of people again. It's amazing the things you miss. Yeah, I can chat with the women I work with, but it's always so strained, with me trying to talk slowly and them trying to find the words. This was nice. They all had horror stories about Chinese bathrooms, Micheal talked about a friend's upcoming trip to Tibet, and we talked about blogging and why we were in China. Brad had a friend also show up, a delightful girl named Eileen. At first I thought she was very shy, but once I got her talking, it was great!
The bar was so full of westerners, it could have been any bar on Whyte Ave. The place was packed, to the point where people's chairs were being snatched up whenever they got up to go someplace. The music got pretty loud, so eventually we decided to move someplace less crowded and quieter. Or so was the plan.
The place we moved to had louder music, but there was actually a dance floor. It felt more intimate, and I didn't notice any other westerners. The guys started chatting, so I dragged Eileen up onto the dance floor and just relaxed. I haven't been dancing in ages, and I love it. Eileen kept telling me I should move to Shanghai, she'd go out dancing with me every weekend.
God, this so sounds like a letter to my mother. *laugh*
Anyway, the meetup was a blast, at least for me, and it was great to have faces to go with the blogs.
The rest of the time was just... overwhelming. I'm used to much smaller places than Shanghai, so I'm always overwhelmed there. I shopped, and bought presents for people back home. (Kristi asked for something "tacky and touristy". I found the tackiest thing I had seen in China. Ten minutes later, I found something even more tacky, but the idea of having a Chinese barbie doll dancing to It's a Small World sung in Chinese actually in my home turned me off entirely.) The best present I bought, I'm not entirely positive I want to give away. That's the problem with finding really kewl stuff. I just have to keep reminding myself that the intended recipient will appreciate it more than I will. Plus, I can always get another one. I probably will.
I wandered through parks, checked out a museum, and even braved the Metro. From my experience in Paris, I can tell you that the first time is always the hardest. At least in France I could read the damned signs. Ah well, the annoucements were in English as well as Chinese. I didn't catch a photo of the sign that said "Danger! Jumping from platform Forbidden!" I did get a photo of the overpacked trains. Think of the LRT when it's a game day. Now picture it a normal Saturday morning at 11 a.m. I can't get over how crowded it was. I also don't understand why the transit stops at 11. That's even worse than Edmonton.
Anyway, this is another one of my rambly posts. I actually have a lot of thoughts to add to this one later, but I wanted everyone to know I had a fantastic time, I bought many many postcards, and I found Jeanne-Marie's letter in my coat pocket again. I am going to hell.