Out and About

Trip Start Aug 21, 2009
Trip End Sep 09, 2009

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Where I stayed
Timi's Couch

Flag of China  ,
Thursday, August 27, 2009

The last few days have found me feeling substantially better, good enough to go out and actually do some sight seeing, albeit still with an invisible tether to a toilet somewhere in the vicinity. I loathe antibiotics and will try and do all I can not to take them, but after six days of irregularity even I am willing to pop a few pills to make this go away. This is not an option, however, as I cannot go and see a doctor here. It has nothing to do with affordability or a language barrier, as most doctors are apparently very reasonable and speak English. No, I can't go see a doctor because if I do there is a very high chance that I will be thrown into quarantine. After the SARS outbreak in 2003 China has become increasingly paranoid in regards to airborne pathogens, and with the swine flu still infecting people worldwide, China isn't taking any chances with sick foreigners. Their policy is to quarantine them first and then ask questions and check symptoms later. Thus, I must suffer.

As I said, I might be sick but I haven't let it stop me from exploring the city. A few days ago Timi and I headed over to the Pearl Market, a western style mall containing nothing but extremely high quality fake goods. You can buy fake anything here, from Callaway golf clubs to Cartier watches. You would expect a fake goods bazaar to have a seedy, black market feel to it, but the only way to tell this place apart from one of our high end malls is the sign by the entrance which informs you that by purchasing any item in the market you are breaking the law. There seriously is a sign which says this.

I bought Jessy a little something while there (don't get too excited :) and Timi bought herself a purse. The little stall where she bought the purse had a number of name brands on display, but Timi was after a Chanel, which was not one of the makes on the shelves. She told the lady how she loved the last Chanel purse she had bought from her and wanted to buy another one. The saleswoman looked all around and then reached onto her belt and pressed a button on what looked like a car alarm remote. A click sound was heard, and then, like magic, a hidden door opened up where one of the display cases sat. She quickly ushered us into the back room which was lined with every high end purse you could imagine. Timi picked hers out and we exited the bat cave. When we got out I was able to get a better look at the door and there is no way you could tell from the outside that it was anything other than shelving. I was highly impressed. What I didn't understand, however, is why some brands could be on display and others needed to be hidden away. Timi told me that they only target certain brands, the makers who push things in court and win law suits against China, and those are the brands that are sequestered.

That night I got to meet most of Timi's friends at a going away party for Loti (sorry if that is horribly misspelled). We went out to a Thai joint that had incredible food, though I only nibbled due to the tummy. I did my best to kill the little monsters inside of me with spirits, but I don't think it did any good. If anything they just passed out for a bit, only to awaken in the morning with a hangover, which they promptly took out on me.

The one really touristy thing I have done is visit old town and the Yuyuan garden, a fabulous complex of koi ponds and pagodas set amongst a landscape of carved rock. It is one of the few areas of Shanghai that is reminiscent of old China. I spent the majority of the day there, snapping photos and chatting with other tourists. I tried to tag along with a few English language tours, but I was discovered each time. Finally I latched onto a group from Barcelona getting a tour in Spanish whom I managed to follow for quite some time. I learned a couple of interesting things, such as the lion statues that are almost always set by the front door of any important building date back to the tradition of the royalty keeping lions in their gardens to ward off intruders. An effective deterrent one would imagine. She also informed us that the reason you rarely see people walking dogs here is because you must purchase a license in order to own a dog, which is expensive. There are actually people who walk around and check for the licenses, but they only do this during the day, so at night you can find a lot of people walking dogs who can't afford the license. 

Other than that the only thing of interest I have seen was a fight on the street between a guy and a woman, who appeared to be his girlfriend, and another man. I have no idea what any of it was about, but the woman pushed the man, who pushed her back, which infuriated her boyfriend. They started pushing each other out into the street, which is more dangerous than russian roulette, and ended up shoving each other back toward the car, all the while yelling incessantly. This was a distance of probably thirty feet, so it was a lot of pushing. A large crowd gathered and an old man tried to break up the fight, which only resulted in everybody yelling at him. In the end it was pretty disappointing as I watched this for at least ten minutes and nobody ever even threw a punch. It was amusing at least.

Tomorrow I'm off to the Shanghai museum. Take care.

Please visit my photo site, http://jakedury.smugmug.com/
Any photos you buy will help further my traveling and volunteer work, not to mention they make a nice and extremely cheap gift.
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somasized on

I appreciate it.

somasized on

That's hilarious. Not sure if I will have time to stop by, but it's tempting.

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