Monday, February 9, 2009

Shanghai: Day Eight

Today, I slept though our daytrip again! We would have had to leave before eight, and I wandered out of my bedroom after eleven, slightly confused about why I had slept so long. Lynn, though, like a concerned and benevolent grandmother, was happy that I’d slept, and decided to reward me by taking me to the movies.

And so, after futzing around the house for awhile, we went off to my favorite mall in Shanghai (there is stiff competition!): Raffles City, where we purchased tickets for the IMAX showing of Red Cliffs II, in spite of the fact that neither of us had seen Red Cliffs I and that the movie is in Mandarin, of which my knowledge now encompasses hello, how are you, yeah yeah, I don’t have it, and I don’t want any. First, though, we sat down for brunch at Babydoll, a favorite restaurant for cute young girls to congregate with their friends over fluffy desserts in big pink and orange booths. Lynn had never tried it, and we were sucked in by the aura. Unfortunately, it was a gustatory bust, with sauces too heavy, soups too bland, and dishes too weird. We left still hungry after eating half our food, which was half the portion and an eighth the quality of the lunch at Gu Yi, but the same price. Boo to teenyboppers—we should have known not to trust them.

With another hour to kill before the movie, we wandered the mall a bit so that I could buy some last-minute gifts, and I tried my first and last Chinese Starbucks. It was passable (I’m not such a fan of American Starbucks, so the bar was low); the price was about as obscene as it is in New York.

In the theatre, we had assigned seats (!), which we had been able to pick on a computer screen when buying tickets. But the real surprise was that the movie had subtitles—both in Chinese and English, so I was able to follow much more than I had expected (this was at first a bit disappointing; I had been psyched up for a completely passive experience of language indoctrination, and instead I ended up scrambling after subtitles as usual). After the movie, we caught a cab back to Moganshanlu, so that I could buy some heavy photography books I had lusted after the last time we were in the shop. We took all my purchases back home in a cab before going back out to meet Josh and John for dinner at Element Fresh, a California-styled restaurant that probably serves the only edible salad in Shanghai (Chinese people don’t seem to understand uncooked vegetables). I stuck with an “Asian Set” dish, which came out (in some odd foreshadowing) like California’s Chinese food rather than China’s: chunks of chicken sautéed in a black pepper sauce with broccoli, served aside a sculpted mound of white rice flecked with black sesame seeds, with steamed bok choy and a small hot and sour soup on the side. This was soothing for my belly, and I washed it down with a Tsingtao (which I now know to pronounce “ching-dao.”)

To top off my last night, we decided to hit a notorious expat bar called The Spot, which was pretty much not the spot that night, it being Sunday. The rap was loud, but the walls were white and the lights were pretty bright; most of the tables (except the pool table) were empty. We had one round and called it a night.

And the next day, I flew home.

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