It’s nuts that it’s been 11 days since Matt’s been here, it flew by so quickly…
We had stayed up to the wee hours of the morning just chatting away until I called it a night for everyone. We wanted to squeeze in something stereotypically Chinese for Matt before he left and what better place than Yuyuan Gardens! Syd and I have talked about this place before it’s the area with the super Chinese style architecture and the beautiful garden. The problem is because it’s such a caricature of China it’s massive tourist trap. Either way we strolled around for a bit and tried out this cafeteria style restaurant where you put your food on your trays and pay at the end.
We had Matt work on the rest of the blogs so that we can get everything posted in a timely manner. While he did that Syd and I helped him pack. I called for a cab to come get us to the airport and we just lounged around till it was time for Matt to leave….
The ride to the airport was a completely different route that we’ve taken before and the whole ride there we were bitching about how this dude is taking us for a ride, but in the end it was 30 RMB cheaper than normal… I don’t get this country… When Matt got his bags checked it was flagged for something, so we went to go see what was the matter. In his first bag the security pulled out his camera battery and just handed it to him and in the second one two zippo lighters, which he couldn’t take with him. What I don’t understand is why was the camera battery handed back to Matt if there was an “issue” with it being in the check in… Wouldn’t it potentially pose a greater threat if he had it on him? Also the lighters were in his check in AND they didn’t have any lighter fluid AND THEY WERE BOUGHT IN YOUR COUNTRY! ONE OF THEM EVEN HAD MAO ON IT FOR CHRIST SAKE! I don’t understand this country… We said our goodbyes and sent Matt on his way. It was awesome seeing him again, at least this time it won’t be another 7 months till we see each other. This trip has reaffirmed that Matt and I are brothers. We’ve known each other since we were 9 years old and when I was single I saw him everyday for 3 years and that’s not an exaggeration. From school, work and hanging out there was no escaping me. I’m so glad he made the effort to come out and see how Syd and I have been living. Hopefully we get the same opportunity at some point in the future to visit Matt somewhere around the world.
I’m leaving today. They asked me to reflect on my time here and therefore I shall. This trip can be summed up in one word: Family. Wally has been and will always be a brother to me and Sydney has made me feel so loved and cared for. She’s a sister but not in the way that Wally and Sydney are siblings but that she’s my sibling. And they’re married– but Wally is my brother. Makes sense? Fuck. Anyway…
We went to Yuyuan Gardens today to check out an older Shanghai. After we got off the metro stop we found a cool little lunch spot where they serve dim sum, cafeteria style. We got some steamed buns, and stinky tofu– regular. But they had these weird looking prawns and a whole baby crab which peaked my adventurous side and I grabbed those as well. The prawns looks like something you can find at a bait shop. They deep fried them to hell and it was underwhelming. It tasted alright but it was difficult to eat because there was very little meat and all exoskeleton. Same applies to the crab but with a little more meat. YuYuan Gardens is a very pretty place and the architecture is distinctly Chinese but because of that, it’s a huge tourist trap. Plenty of beggars, sellers, and people populating the area. It was a cute little spot but we only needed an hour until we decided to head back home.
FAMILY. Being able to come here and just start off where left off is an awesome feeling. Not a lot of people can say they started their Shanghai trip by raging in a club and listening to Yellow Claw. Then we spent the rest of my time exploring Shanghai at a comfortable pace. They showed me how Shanghai can make you feel like a king or a peasant in the luxury side of the city. Posh malls, expensive cars– there was an all chromed out Porche just cruising down the road, like, wtf. It was a mirror on wheels. Then the Cheap Market where you can get any brand name goodies for dirt cheap prices. Being in Shanghai made me realize and appreciate a lot of things I take for granted back home. reflection time…
First off, fresh fruits and vegetables are harder to come by out here and cost more to obtain. Services that are normal in the states are rare here. Rudeness is common and people have high disregard to their surroundings. I miss responsible drivers– I have witnessed a woman get hit by a taxi cab. Then we were in a van in Xi An where it hit a scooter with a baby-child-toddler in it. What else… The all too common piss and shit in the middle of the streets get me, the diaperless babies, the aggressive homeless people and scam artists, the constant vigilance needed to protect my wallet and phone, and the censored internet. No dryers.
On the flipside, beer is hella cheap– delicious and plentiful. You can smoke just about anywhere, food is cheap and delicious, you can buy knock-offs and dress fresh. Tailored outfits to complete your wardrobe. Beautiful architecture, living in a promising metropolis full of opportunity and 24 million people you can sell to. Taxis are affordable, you can live off a modest wage and live comfortable. Always something to do in Shanghai. Buildings to visit, continuously being awestruck at the vast size of this city and the little districts to visit. Tianzifang is a hub for young Chinese and expats to explore, French concession if you want to escape from China just for a bit and get your slice of home, etc. There’s a slow growing subculture of artists, entrepreneurs, and restaurateurs in Shanghai. It’s a place for the ambitious to really flourish, unlike back home where competition is saturated. Western influence is a huge advantage in Shanghai and being bilingual here can take you REALLY far. Because of how ‘lax certain laws and social norms are here, you can get away with more things that you can back home.
I couldn’t have these moments, these experiences, and these realization without spending it with my family. It was an amazing experience and they sold me on living overseas. I’m really sad heading back home but I’ll be back. Who knows, maybe they’ll come out to visit me when I’m out here. 🙂
The end of vacation!!! WTF?!?! How the hell did 11 days go by? I feel like we just picked him up. This was by far one of the most relaxing vacations I have ever had. It was also so memorable, fun, full of hilarious stories, and annoying dutch songs (when I was 7 years old 😉 ). It was great having Matt and being able to talk and hang out and it was like we saw him yesterday as opposed to 7 months ago.
We started the day at Yuyuan and found a cafeteria style dim sum place. It was fun and tasty. The food was not classy but it did the job and we were able to have one last meal together. While we were eating a few beggars and homeless people came up asking for our leftover food and for money. NO!!!!!!!! GTFO, I am eating do not come up to me when I am in a restaurant and ask for food or money. Fuck, I am tired of shit like that. Chinese people can be so rude. We finished up and walked him around. We did not go in the garden this time but showed him the area. Yuyuan is basically Chinatown in China. We headed back to the apartment so Matt could finish his blogs and pack up. While he packed I offered to pack for him. he is carrying so much stuff home for us it was the least we could do. Once we finished we did not have a lot of time left but we talked a little longer until the taxi called to say he was here. The drive to the airport was quiet and a little sad. The guys waited in line to check the bags while I tried to get the boarding pass from the kiosk. One lady told me that I was unable to do so because we were checking in bags. Ok, no worries I will just wait in line with Matt and Wally. About 5 minutes later another woman comes up and asks if we have our boarding pass and I explained what happened and she said no I still need to print it out. OMG, figure your shit out people! Finally we got to the counter and started checking the luggage and when we thought we were done we had to go to this security place and they wanted to check Matt’s 2 bags.
- The guy working the security speaks very little English.
- He rifles through Matt’s bag and finds his camera bag, takes out the battery and hands it to Matt who has to carry it on the plane. Ya, China cause that makes sense, this little battery cannot go in my check-in? It has to go in my carry-on. Matt and I are just rolling our eyes.
- They rifle through more and take out the 2 zippo lighters that made got as a gift for someone and said you cannot fly with them. How? Every other flight we have taken we have checked lighters but now we cannot have them in our check-ins? We are not carrying them on the plane! We are checking them in and they are in containers. We bought them in your country, they have Mao’s face on them and now you are being a dick about it. (Matt gave them to us and we are going to check them in on our flights.)
Once that debacle was done we rechecked the bags and got him to the customs line. We hugged goodbyes said our I love yous and he was off to the land of the free. Bastard! 😉
Wally and I walked in silence back to the metro and teared up a little that he was gone and we were on our way home without him. Vacation blues was hitting hard but at least we still have tomorrow off. We stopped at Shanghai Tech so Wally could get his glasses tightened and tried to buy some more external chargers but with no luck. We headed home, had some leftovers and watched Hot Fuzz in Matt’s honor.
It was so sad and it is weird that the other room is emtpy. On the positive side, I only have 9 days left of work and there is only 18 days until Greg and Bianca get here!!! EEEEEEEE so excite.