So we're currently in the Shanghai airport waiting to leave this awful, awful country. At the risk of sounding extremely negative; I think that we both agree that this is the worst place on earth. :p (its not actually that bad, but close!). Lets give you all a rundown of what our last couple of days have looked like.
Dec 10th/11th: We bid farewell to our friends and family and left our wonderful country at noon on a nonstop flight to Shanghai. The air canada flight was amazing. We enjoyed multiple bottles of a fine merlot during the almost 13 hour journey across the pacific. The in-flight entertainment was great and we watched several movies. Overall it was a fantastic flight. We landed and began the long and arduous task of collecting our baggage and making it through immigration before getting on the metro which took almost an hour to get to our stop. We had directions to our hostel but quickly realised that "turning right after exiting the metro station" could lead to many possibilities depending on which of the 9 metro exits we chose to take. A little perseverance and a stop in at the Nanjing Road apple store to use chinese google maps and we made it! Me and Aaron were pleasently surprised to find that we had a nice large room with a loft area for the bed. We met up with Aarons childhood friend, Richard Forbes and headed for a much needed meal. We found a nice sechwan restaurant on the 5th floor of a building and then the elevator man let us out on the 4th floor. We were confused at first and then we realised that we were a group of white people in china, so obviously we were being scammed. We went up one more floor and found our intended restaurant. As a funny sidenote, the name of the place that they tried to trick us into eating at was called We Lai.... Sounds like 'we lie'. Yes they did lie!
Dec 12: Our loft king size bed allowed for a wonderful sleep and fresh start to our first full day in Shanghai.This morning we made like the locals and headed to Mcdonalds for breakfast. Then we walked down to the Bund and enjoyed the nice view of the space-aged looking skyljne that was only mildly hazed out by smog. Our next goal was to find a market that sells fake goods. Essentially, since most consumer goods are made in China, this is not really a fake market and more of a "selling extra stuff cheap on the side cause it hasnt been shipped out of the country yet" market. This market was a mall full of several floors full of small stalls selling the same inventory. Competition is very high which leads to very aggressive salespeople who sometimes physically pull you into their stall. Some stalls come with secret back walls that open up to reveal secret back rooms lined with designer handbags and watches. The whole ordeal was stressful yet fun. The process of buying something is kind of like a game. Below is an example of how such a game would go:
Us: how much?
Them: for you, very good price. Friend price. Other place maybe too much, here good price. (this is when they grab their calculator and hit a bunch of buttons until they show you a very high price).
Us:490¥ thats crazy, too high, not even close.
Them: no, no, good quality. Highest quality (said as they bang the item on something to prove that it is of the finest quality. They may also put a flame to leather to show that its real, or twist the sole of a shoe to prove that it is durable).
Us: no, no, all the same quality. We'll pay this (we type in a fair price on the calculator.) At this point you can lowball and go back and forth for a while as they start glaring at you more and more or just state a price that you think is fair and stick to it. We take the latter approach, although the glaring seems to increase either way.
Them: oh no. Too low. Impossible. Maybe for others but this is highest quality.
Us: its a fair price. If its too low thats ok, we'll go. (we start to walk away)
Them: ok ok, (they say a price close to ours but still high, hoping that we'll bite)
Us: no, thats ok (as we get further away)
Them: ok, ok, come pay. Throughout the process we make sure to keep a smile on to keep things light. An example of how high they start their prices: we paid 60¥ for something that started at 490¥. On the way to the market we were stopped by 3 chinese people who asked for us to take a picture with them. They were very friendly and chatty and said they were from northern china. Immediately this put me on edge. As we carried on with conversation they mentioned something about a tea festival close by and then said that we should all go. I jumped in and called it for a tea scam! This is common here, a friendly chinese person with good english skills will take you for tea and the bill wil come and be extremely high, even 100 dollars. They may have security guards to make sure that you pay. I was sure that this was the case with these people so we left, and just as we called it, they were in the same spot almost 2 hours later when we were walking back from the market. In the later afternoon we went to a fabric market for the boys to get measured for tailored shirts. Then we went for mexican for dinner (what else would we eat in shanghai?).
Dec 13: This morning mme and aaron ran to the market for a couple more things and then met up with everyone and enjoyed a really good lunch of dumplings and soup. We took the maglev to the airport. This is a super high speed train that levitates on a magnetic track. We topped out at 431km/hr. It was super cool and way faster than taking the metro the entire way.
Dec 14: we made it to Bangalore at 2am. Our cab driver ended up not knowing where our hotel was so after asking 3 different groups of Indian men on the street we told him to stop in at a good hotel to use the internet. He finally found the right street and luckily we spotted a small sign as we drove past it and made it to our hotel! We went straight to bed at 430am and woke up for breakfast soon after before napping a little bit more. We went to Jack and Jones to look for custom tshirts that aaron wanted to get. We trekked 15 minutes, dodging tuk tuks and street cows along the way. We ended up stopping in at a bar and enjoying some ice cold Kingfisher beers with our lunch. The staff were so friendly, having us test the coldness of the beer before pouring it for us. The hospitality in India is second to none. We found aaron some nice pants that were hemmed for him on the spot and then walked back to our hotel. Along the way we were crossing the street and aaron commented that they followed the street lights better here than in china. Just as I agreed, I looked to my left and was abandoned by aaron as a sea of tuk tuks and scooters were headed straight at me. Aaron said that I looked like George from the Frogger episode of Seinfeld as I made my way through the passing vehicles. I guess I instinctively held my arm out at several vehicles in an attempt to make them stop. We both laughed as I jumped for the curb. The rest of our afternoon was relaxing and full of more delicious food.