Seoul, Shanghai, and Beijing
Seoul was a comedy of errors. It was the hardest time I’ve ever had communicating in a foreign country. Several people actually came up to me and tried to help, but their English wasn’t that good. It was still better than my Korean though. One guy asked me where I needed to go. When I replied “A hostel”, he stepped back and looked at me like I had the black plague. He said “How much sickness you have?” I tried not to laugh at him when I realized he thought I was saying hospital. After several failed attempts to get to a hostel I told the driver to take me to the nicest hotel in town, figuring they would speak English. I landed at the Millennium Hilton. From there I took a city tour, saw some temples, and went to a Ginseng factory. The whole experience was unremarkable and I probably won’t be back to Seoul unless I have to.
One of the palaces at Gyeongbokgung, temple of the kings in the 1500s
Korean warriors guarding Gyeongbokgun
Traditional Korean Lunch
Shanghai on the other hand was a blast. Jared and my Mom met me there. For you Vandy people, pledge # 10048739564 met us at the airport with his driver, yeah that’s right, his driver. Adam Michel has been doing the expat thing in Shanghai for about a year now and has a ridiculous setup. His driver picked me up, his maid did my laundry and cooked me meals, and I crashed in his spare bedroom. If only we could all be so successful to have an army of Chinese servants. Adam has been working on his Mandarin and has gotten pretty good. He made the whole trip much easier. Adam, you’re the shizzle.
Adam and the Fam in the Gardens near the People's Square
In Shanghai we saw the largest collection of ancient bronze sculptures in the world at the Shanghai Museum. The Urban Planning Museum had the city layout planned for the next 20 years. They had a 2000sq ft model of what the city will look like when finished. We bought some “legal” DVDs at DVD World and then walked across the street to Even Better Than DVD World. Competition is pretty fierce. After touring the Bund, we had lunch atop the Jin Mao tower, the tallest building in China. On the walk back we stopped in to buy some more “legal” items. Jared and Mom bought wallets and I bought some Euro sunglasses. I’m going to try and look less American while I’m in the Middle East and Russia.
What do the think the shop across the street was thinking when they put this sign up?
Chinese Culture with an American Twist
Model of what Shanghai will look like in 20 years
The Pearl Tower and the Bund from atop the Jin Mao Tower
Looking down the 88 story Atrium in the Jin Mao Tower
Bartered with her for a solid half hour to get Euroified
As for other escapades, Adam introduced me to Green Tea and whiskey, which is surprisingly good. We managed to make it to Babyface, an aggressive Chinese techno club. The last night some drunken China man came up to us and was yelling at us. I said “No, no” and told him to go away. When he came back I turned to keep him out of our circle. He got pissed and slapped Jared in the face. I grabbed him by the shirt and shoved him back into the wall. The bouncer grabbed him and I thought it was over. A couple minutes later we came back and threw a blindside haymaker at me. Got me on the eye. I pushed him over and was going to go after him until I decided I didn’t want to find out what kind of meals they serve in Chinese prisons. I mean come on, at least Kung Fu me so it’s a better story, I can get punched in the US.
Armed with my new shiner, the family and I headed for Beijing the next morning. We hit the highlights, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the silk factory, and Buddhist temples. I also ran a marathon on the Great Wall. That page is here
Chinese version of diapers, a hole in the seat
The Temple of Heaven
The Great Wall, this was part of the race course
After the marathon I took the bus back and headed to a Kung Fu show, which was great. It had weapons demonstrations, Chinese acrobats, and a pretty good storyline. From there I met up with the group to celebrate our finish. We hit some of the local karaoke bars. The night ended at Babyface Beijing, this time in a private room with the Dutch Olympic committee instead of a black eye. From coastal China it was off to Tibet