Gung Ho!


This is how I know Mr. Understanding truly loves me: he took me shopping on my first day in China, and on a holiday weekend, to boot. He hates to shop. He hates crowds. He hates people coming up to him every 5 minutes asking if he´d like to buy a watch. But he did it all for me! I managed to buy at least half of my children´s Leaving Brasil & Moving to China gifts in a few short hours. We had a yummy lunch of chicken and cashews, braised celery, steamed dumplings, and some weird little ribs.

Jet lag prevented me from remembering a cardinal rule of foreign travel: bring hand sanitizer and toilet paper. My thighs haven´t had such a good workout since my Mexico days. Really, you´d think I´d learn. This scene repeated itself yesterday when I went to Decathlon, a French sporting goods store, to check out a few things. I encountered my first in the ground toilet and learned lesson #2: in my handbag, I will now have to carry plastic booties to preserve my shoes from possible backsplash. Footwear has never been so disposable! I might have to buy an entire Chinese footwear collection for everyday use because I truly cannot bear the thought of incinerating all my precious Brazilian sandalias. For this princess, the throne room is looking most unattractive.

On Saturday night we took a taxi to for a 9:00 dinner reservation. When we entered the under-the-river tunnel, I pointed out to Mr. U that perhaps we had not communicated to the driver properly our destination. Even I knew that we weren´t supposed to be crossing the river. Mr. U promptly called the hotel concierge to have them call the restaurant to say we would be late for our reservation. The hotel concierge called back 3 minutes later to tell us that the restaurant closed at 10:00. This was a first for the both of us: a restaurant that closes at 10 on a Saturday night in one of the world´s busiest cities. Ai Lin later told me that dinner is eaten generally between the hours of 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Karaoke starts after that.

On Sunday, we went to the DVD store and stocked up. There are no Blockbusters in China. (Think about it). Then we had the driver, who supposedly speaks English, take us to an antique furniture warehouse I had read about in a book called Born to Shop by Suzy Gershman. We crossed over the river and this was when I first perceived I was in over my head. Mile after mile of gigantic apartment complexes, more or less aesthetically pleasing and relatively new, stood as far as the eye could see, laundry flapping out of almost every single window. The van we have has a DVD player with little screens in the back of the headrests. We watched an entire movie as we tried valiantly to find the warehouse, which we never did. Maybe it went the way of the rest of Shanghai – torn to the ground, a skyscraper to be put in its place.



Filed under Fine Dining, Life, Shopping, Travel

9 responses to “Gung Ho!

  1. Thanks so much for the update. I only regretted not seeing your English Tudor. It sounds like a great trip. Write more, and more.

    Have strained my back, otherwise things are cool. radish

  2. The Girl in Need of a Cool Brown Purse

    Yes, thanks for the update. I wish you could blog every day there! Is Ai Lin RD? We’re doing fine all things considered, although this CPAP machine is like having a newborn – perhaps a little worse. I slept well last night, b/c WSS was on duty, but tonight it’s up to me again. Waaahhhh! Miss you – xoxoxo

  3. MCV

    Princess, thanks! Can’t wait to hear about the Princess Ai Lin adventures.

  4. Expat:
    Thanks for the tip on the hand sanitizer and TP. Do you recommend that book for travel to Shenzhen? I will be leaving in 6 – 8 weeks. Any useful advice you might have at this point would be greatly appreciated. I love the thought of you two in the back of the car watching a DVD driving through the streets of Shanghai.

  5. Raftbuddy

    Ah…….. the dreaded hole in the ground. I have more experience with that than I care to say in a stadium in Japan when I was having lower intestinal issues. The shoe covers idea is a stroke of brilliance. You are so clever!

    Hope you are not flying back through the Northwest. Big news in Oregon is a man who brought back 4 fake Rolexes from China (grand total of about $14). He had one on his wrist so customs sent him to have his luggage checked. Turns out that the government is fining him $53,000 for bringing the fake Rolexes into the country- trademark violations. It has been all over the news the last two days. Moral of the story: don’t wear your fake Rolex through customs……….. I feel so sorry for the guy!!

  6. Winnie

    I’ve always thought that female plumbing could use a redesign. Now I’m absolutely sure. Maybe this explains why women feel the need for plentiful footwear and men could care less. Love to you and Mr. U and here’s to an awesome Asian adventure!

  7. Did get the photos. What a riot! Is Buckingham palace near by? We love you and I hope you and Mr. U are having a honeymoon.

  8. KT

    Oh, you are bringing back memories of many long taxi rides to destinations never reached.
    I know that Mr. Understanding loves you, but I am waiting for him to go shopping with you during Chinese New Year (preferably on the weekend)…a true test of all things good.
    After 2 years in China, I could never get used to the late dinners in Brazil. I don’t think that we were ever out past 10:00 PM…no taxis after 9:30.
    While we were in Qingdao, my husband volunteered me for the annual “corporate olympics”. One bathroom for the entire stadium…did I say bathroom? I meant to say trough (on the ground) no doors or paper..and no flushers…in total darkness …maybe they thought that if you couldn’t see it, it wouldn’t kill you…but the stench could! Believe me, they should have timed my race getting out of there…blue ribbon worthy!
    Hope you are finding a great place to live.

  9. expatprincess

    Girls, girls, girls,

    I am jetlagged already and I am only in Heathrow. To think, I still have to head to Harrods!

    We are flying back to Brazil. I have appreciated all the tips and stories above – very useful. The Chinese have, in fact, invented foot covers but they are only for trudging across the marble floors of new homes. I will see if I can convince them to sell me a gross of them to put in my handbag, which of course, would be real.

    I did find my dream house but until I am moved in it, I won’t believe it. Years of Latin living have made me a realist. Jaded? Perhaps.

    It is Mother’s Day in China as I write this so get a head start on your celebrations, ladies! To my male readership, this means get a move on.


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