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Weirdly Like Home

Shanghai is the last stop before home, so we ditched the tour guide and hence are going to better restaurants and fewer souvenir shops (thank god). Shanghai boasts few or none of the traditional Chinese rooftops, which makes sense as the city was in good part designed by westerners. Skyscrapers, high rises…it feels weirdly like New York…a science fiction version of Manhattan populated solely by Asians, exactly like the future will be! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Yesterday we all had drinks at the Peace Hotel (gorgeous river view, odious signature cocktail, redemptively delicious bloody marys). Morgan and others were overjoyed to finally find a Citybank that would accept their cards. Later, we went shopping (again!) on some brightly lit, surreally clean yet otherwise Times Squarish type of street. It looked kind of how I imagine Tokyo Disney would look if it were comprised of nothing but department stores. I got separated from the group in one of these stores when I went up or down the wrong number of stair flights. Luckily, they found me outside, and then we all got ice cream. It may seem wrong to patronize Häagen-Dazs when you’re in Shanghai, but…screw it.

On a related note: you can tell we’re at a five star hotel that caters to western guests because they actually offer you cheese when they’re making your omelet. Now, I love congee and spicy ramen soup as much as the next girl, but two weeks is a long time for an American to go without cheese!

Today we went to a big open market where all my caucasian and black friends were instantly swarmed by vendors trying to sell counterfeit Rolexes, Prada bags, Pumas, and Nikes. Let the bargaining begin! Mark had the most fun bargaining with the natives: “Is joke price!” “Is joke leather!” “You kill me — You kill my price!” “You kill ME!” “Ah, you kill my price, but I make good friend!”

It has to be said that during all exchanges (save that one time with the lady who told us not to come back), both parties were having a grand old time, and we even got the card of some guy who called himself Cheng Kai. By the way, if you need Cheng Kai for anything, he can be found at his new stall, A-24, at the Shanghai Qi Pu Xing Wang Nations Clothing City.

Meanwhile, I pretended to be Chinese and bored the entire day, which was fun and allowed me to avoid the countless peddlers with their incessant cries of “DVD! Bags! Watchee!”

Then, back at the hotel, a mind-meltingly blissful massage. Then an infinitely cool, but perplexing Tai Chi lesson by a master in a shiny silver suit. Once again, it was proved that I am spiritually bankrupt! Oh well.

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