May 29:  Shanghai

I informed the group that today was JFK's birthday.

In the morning we took a walking tour of the Old Chinese City area.  I noticed yesterday that when you finish a bottle, or even before you're finished, people swarm you like vultures to take the bottle off your hands.  I don't know if they get the deposit back or if they use them for something else.  So on this walking tour I finished that Vanilla Coke and walked around with the bottle dangling, but no one swarmed.  It's like I was a girl in bar with my jugs hanging out but no guys were talking to me.  Inexplicable.

And thanks to Anne Marie mentioning underpants last night and the mystery of what people do with the empty bottles, I had "China Girl" replaced in my head by the Underpants Gnomes song.

1.  Collect empty bottles
2.  ???
3.  Profit!

There are two precious kittens here sleeping on each other.  AW!

Alleys in the Old Chinese City.  You haven't experienced a city until you've seen clothes hanging out to dry.  Or until you've gotten laid, I suppose.

Seriously, this is what the old section of a real Asian city should look like.


The white kittens are watching the gerbil.  AW!  A great adventure is waiting for you ahead...


At the end of the walking tour, MJ announced "this is the end of the tour", then continued walking with us.  He had no clue where we had ended up, and since Peter and Rose wanted to go off and do their own thing he suggested they get a taxi, hoping the driver could find the hotel.  But they figured they could find their own way, which really wasn't that difficult.  We wouldn't have come to China if we couldn't self-navigate.

I noticed that Shanghai ponds are also devoid and bereft of ducks.  Peking Duck isn't as popular down there, so I couldn't figure it out, but then I theorized that all the ducks must have been Shanghaied and taken to Beijing.

We had lunch, hung out at Starbucks for a while, then returned to the hotel at 3pm.  On the way back I saw a peculiar ad on Nanjing Street.  There were three panels touting UCLA, Los Angeles CA, Est. 1919, but one of them had the Statue of Liberty in the foreground.  Maybe that's the University of California LaGuardia Airport.  Back in the room Koen and I discussed a few obvious problems with this tour, which I'll let Intrepid know about via the feedback form.  Decorum prohibits listing them here.

Side note from lunch:  most soda cans in China have those old-style pull-tabs, the kind I remember cutting myself on in Cape Cod in 1973.  I joined five of them together into a large showy ring, and intended to try to sell it on the street (Hello!  Have a look!  Cheapah!) but quickly lost interest and threw it away.

I stepped out to go across the street and get two 600-mL bottles of Budweiser for Y12.40 total.  I think it was 4.2% or 4.3%, which is what Bud Light is back home.  I drank these in the room as I read.  I wanted a mild buzz going into dinner.

Our final group dinner was pretty good.  For the first time we got to order our own dishes (still to be shared) instead of the Party selecting them for us.  It took us a long time to decide because the menu was huge, and MJ seemed a little flustered.  The highlight was ostrich kebabs, which had a hint of curry.  I had a big bottle of Heineken with the meal, and noticed that it was 4.7% instead of 5.0%.  So even the internationally-popular beers make a special version just for China.

On Nanjing Street after dinner we saw a guy on those wheeled sneakers take a hard fall.  I shouted "Cool!"  Koen had to follow his Hypocritic Oath and go help him.  He diagnosed him with a broken wrist.  Another Indian-looking doctor showed up too and took the guy away.  I thought that it was useful having both a doctor and a pharmacist (Anne Marie) on the tour for situations like that, since one could write a prescription and the other fill it right on the spot.  There was a pharmacy right there too.  And (thanks for your patience) I also thought they would have been useful in Beijing to cure anyone with acute Olympic Fever, by giving them a prescription for MORE COWBELL thank you.

Back at the hotel the four of us (Peter & Rose typically didn't eat with us) said our goodbyes.  We exchanged e-mail addresses because MJ forgot to photocopy the sheet for us and we didn't think he would follow up and send an e-mail accurately.  Koen gave Anne Marie a traditional Belgian 3-kiss goodbye, so I had to top him with a 5-kiss, King Kong Bundy style.  I'm told she blushed.  Later Koen decided to write a goodbye note to her and sign it with XXX, so I had to follow with a bigger and longer note, with an XXXXX.  I slid both notes under her door and ran away.

We each had one more beer, discussed the tour further, and went to bed.