about that later) and doing a little bit of traveling.
What do do when you have only one day in China? Everything you can.
After 16 hours of flying, I opted not to go to sleep. Instead, after
showering away the airplane grunge, I headed out for a drink with my
new chinese friend. It was a Sunday, but not the Sabbath here, so
everything was as open as a whorehouse in a Navy port of call.
Shanghai never closes, so even at ten pm on a Sunday, lights flashed
and locals filled the streets.
Locals-Let's explore that. I was told Shanghai was the expatriate
city of China, so it took a minute for me to see Chinese faces. What
I was seeing looked more like downtown Brooklyn that the Far East.
After a few drinks and the required tourist photos, I slept a little
and rose early, like 5AM early, and waited for the sun to come up.
I wasn't trying to be romantic. My body was confused and since I'd
crossed the international date line, it had no idea what day or time
it was. And I almost missed that sunrise. It was swallowed by
Chinese smog before it could peek over the horizon.
In what was supposed to be daylight, I ventured out. I stepped into
traffic and almost got run over by a hoard of bicycles.
More bicycles than cars. As I said a prayer under my breath, I
wondered, back home, if I got run over by a car, my butt would
(hopefully) be bumped to Jesus. If I got squashed by a bicycle in
Asia, would I be bumped to Buddha? I shook it off and chuckled, then
sputtered as the polluted air filled my lungs. Cough. cough. Hack.
Hack. I wished for a Micheal Jackson face mask like the locals were
I had an ambitious day planned. I wanted to see the Famous Jade
Buddha Temple, The Bund, Old Shanghai to name a few. I had the
concierge write the directions down in Chinese since my Chinese
consisted of two words: Hello (Nihon), and thank you (Xie xie). I
quickly got to an another word as I walked. No! (Mao!)
I was trying to act like I wasn't tourist, but I quickly discovered
that it didn't matter. I was going to stick out like an sub-saharan
african in Siberia. I'd read in a book that the Chinese stared, but
this wasn't staring. These were looks that might earn an old-
fashioned beat down in New York. They had me checking to see if I
had a tail. I tried my best to not let it bother me and headed out to
purchase some souvenirs. I fought my way through the crowds and one
man almost fell off his bicycle he was staring so hard. Another
woman stepped in front of me and took pictures of me with her phone.
If I'd thought about it, I would have stopped and posed, charging for
each photo, but with the value of Chinese money, it would have taken
awhile to make any cash.
Then, a new discovery, the Shanghainese were touchy feely too. I
bought a Chinese style name stamp and now, feeling familiar, a woman
took the liberty of running her hand up and down my arm while she
said something that sounded like "Pwetee wadie."
I nodded and smiled. "Pretty lady. Yes. but no touchee."
I was ready to take her down for that but realized the ridiculousness
of my situation. I was outnumbered 18,000,000 plus to one. A really
bad Jackie Chan movie with me not on the winning team.
I grabbed my purchase and slunk away, accepting the memory of the
woman's fingers on my skin.