Storms and STORM

Day 200 (26th of September, 2016) – Shanghai, China

One of the benefits of writing this blog is that I can easily keep track of the number of days that I have been offshore. It’s a tremendous sense of achievement to see that number ticking up, but it also makes me realise just how lucky I am.

Today is day number 200.

To mark the occasion as well as to satisfy my own curiosity, I figured that I would bring out a few statistics of my progress to this day (not including the Australia visit):

  • I am 61% of the way through my trip
  • I have 126 more days to go
  • I have slept in 44 different beds
  • I have visited 9 countries (not counting transit)
  • I have visited 34 cities (not counting transit)
  • I have spanned 5,694m of altitude (from -429m at the Dead Sea to 5,265m at Everest)
  • I have learned approximately 1,115 new Chinese characters
  • I have saved 3819 photos (and deleted tens of thousands more)
  • I have published 29 blog posts (not including this one)
  • My blog has reached 78,158 words (not including this one)
  • My blog has been visited 7,541 times
  • One loyal fan has commented 28 times (shout out to Gary and Rondel)
  • I have smoked the equivalent of 401 cigarettes through China’s air pollution (http://berkeleyearth.org/air-pollution-and-cigarette-equivalence/)

Unfortunately, I was planning on including a few statistics relating to budgeting (e.g. amount of money spent on coffee, average price per meal, etc.), but when my phone was stolen I wasn’t able to retrieve my budgeting data (still working on a possible alternative at tracking that data down, but I don’t know my chances). It’s a real shame because not only did my budgeting give trajectories of what my spending habits needed to be in order to survive until I go home, but it also would have helped to encourage a lot of younger people thinking of taking gap years by showing them that it can be done affordably. They’ll just have to take my word for it.

Day number 200 was pretty standard to be honest. The morning’s classes brought me a few more useful characters, but I found the most interesting part of the class to be when we were discussing dating in China. Apparently one of the most frequently asked questions during the courting process is “what hukou do you have?” A “hukou” is a Chinese identity card, and on it is printed the city you’re from. This is important for a few reasons. First of all, it’s a good insight into the likelihood of your wealth. Secondly, and probably more importantly, it determines what perks you get from the government. Shanghai and Beijing hukous are the most valuable since they entitle the bearer to avoid steep taxes when buying the already expensive property in the area, often letting locals get their foot in the door in front of international investors or migrants from other cities.

While we were having this conversation, a jet performed a low flyover in the city. It sent a bit of a shockwave through the classroom, but it wasn’t the most unexpected thing in the world. These flyovers seem to happen every now and again in China. But what was most funny about this one was that it vibrated the ground so much that all of the surrounding e-bikes had their alarms triggered. E-bike alarms are infamous for being very sensitive. I have often set one off by just lightly tapping an e-bike when trying to manoeuvre my bike out of a parking lot. For the next twenty minutes, though, these alarms squealed throughout the campus while their owners left to switch them off.

I was also relieved to receive a text from the Storm Festival with a link to the QR code for my ticket. It must have kicked in because it was a weekday. The text also instructed me to go to the festival grounds to pick the tickets up either beforehand or on the day. Having learned from some shocking queues in China, I decided that it was best to make the trek to the festival grounds after class to save a few hours of missing music on Saturday.

The festival is being held at the Shanghai Disney grounds. Being the biggest Disneyland in the world, this resort needs to be placed well outside of the city centre. It’s the last stop on the metro line going deep into Pudong (the main financial district east of Shanghai’s centre). This is the part of Shanghai which has only sprung up in the last couple of decades, but the Pudong area is so big that the development still hasn’t reached its furthest outskirts. Taking the metro out to Disneyland gave a great insight into what most of Pudong looks like outside of the glitzy skyscrapers.

The Disneyland Resort station seemed nothing short of a ghost town. It reminded me of images of the Nevada Test Site – a fake town constructed to test nuclear bombs. It was surprisingly eerie to walk through.

You could see the foreshadowing of the weekend’s insane crowds (the combination of both Golden Week Disneyland crowds and Storm festival) through the queues at just one of the metro stations’ entrances.

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Collecting the tickets was an easy process. A passport and QR code flash later, and I had the prized pieces of paper in my hand.

The three hours of total transportation time to and from the resort was only made better by the good reading material I had to accompany me. I made it back to my room with a minute to go before the evening’s tutoring started. I ended the night with a call to Aimee back at home for an overdue catch up and an update on the organisation of the Europe trip which is in full flight.

Day 201 (27th of September, 2016) – Shanghai, China

Our class discussion of Chinese dating habits was continued today with a closer look at girls’ criteria of the ideal partner. The first word I learned for the day was 高富帅 (gaofushuai), translating to “Mr. Perfect”. On further analysis, though, a literal breakdown of the meaning of the word is “tall-rich-handsome”. I thought it was funny, and then we looked at the word for “Ms. Perfect” which is 白富美 (baifumei) meaning “white-rich-beautiful”. With rich being the only commonality, we started to discuss whether this was a joke or genuinely a part of most people’s criteria in China when choosing a partner.

Our teacher, who’s a young girl herself, began talking about how young Chinese people tend to make decisions grounded in statistics rather than in any sort of airy-fairy feeling of “love”.

“Statistically, a relationship is more likely to be successful if the partners have a similar socioeconomic status,” our teacher said.

“What if two people are perfect for each other but have different incomes?” asked one of the Russians.

“Then they’re not perfect for each other. Very few young Chinese people would ever commit to that sort of relationship because of the knowledge that it results in higher rates of divorce, and divorce is still very demonised in our culture.”

I began to realise that the “rich” part of “Mr and Ms Perfect” was actually for real and not just a quirky joke. It also explains income being one of the first questions you get asked upon making a new friend here and the frequency at which income is put at the top of advertisements at the marriage markets in People’s Square. Now THAT is a serious cultural difference.

But then again, maybe we’re just kidding ourselves. Maybe we are influenced by income when choosing our partners but live blissfully unaware of those biases. I’ve no doubt that it’s the case, actually.

When learning to describe the physical appearance of someone in class, we learned about face shapes. In English we might describe someone as having a “heart”, “oval” or “round” face. In Chinese, they prefer to use different kinds of seeds. One of the more common ones, for example, is a 瓜子脸 (guazilian) meaning “watermelon seed shaped face”.

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In an effort to meet some more people, I decided not to leave the university for lunch and instead to eat at the canteen. I used to eat at the canteen most days in Xuzhou. Having a bike in Shanghai has allowed me to go well beyond the confines of the campus to find each meal, but it comes with the downside of not being around my peers as much. I figured that eating with them would be a good way to meet some more people. Sure enough, it worked. I had a great conversation with two very friendly Russian people and Danny, an Italian who I had met before but became much closer to today. It turns out that his brother lives in Sydney. After exchanging some Australian banter, he began asking me about what a “bogan” was. I defined them by one simple criteria: a southern-cross tattoo. The bigger the tattoo, the more of a bogan.

“Oh, my brother has one of them!” he remarked.

I no doubt left that conversation red-faced. I don’t think he minded, though.

I spent much of the day in my room which was a shame. I am becoming quite resentful of not getting out enough. At least I wasn’t wasting time, though. Instead, I spent the hours booking accommodation in Germany. Aimee and I are staying at some amazing design and boutique hotels – it’s shaping up to be the best trip of the year.

With the HSC rapidly approaching back in Australia, my evening consisted of a lot of mentally taxing English work. Much of my tutoring in recent weeks has become trawling through students’ essays and mapping out their often confusing logical patterns and then drawing from it a neater and more concise way to express the same meaning. I think I’m getting a lot out of the sessions myself – I’m learning how to present complex information in a much more bite-sized way. I think that’s a valuable skill.

My only break was for a take-away dinner which I brought back to my room.

Day 202 (28th of September, 2016) – Shanghai, China

After today’s uneventful classes I figured that I needed to do something with my life other than sit at my computer. So, I decided that I would lay with my computer instead.

I watched a movie which absolutely made my week. It’s called “Her”, and it won an Oscar in 2013. I’m not a big movie buff, but this film really struck me. It was an alternative sci-fi take on a hipster’s love life. But best of all – it was largely filmed in Shanghai. I was able to experience the best movie I’ve seen in a long time while sitting just streets away from where some of the scenes occurred. It was very surreal and I hadn’t at all expected it when I began watching.

I was so reinvigorated by Shanghai’s alien landscape that I jumped on my bike and cycled for half an hour without a single idea of direction. I found myself at a noodle house where I could select my ingredients and they would throw it all into a hot bowl of soup and mian.

I enjoyed a lazy afternoon of reading and just a tad more tutoring. While doing some study later in the night, I also decided to a record a video which was requested of me some time ago. I hope you find it interesting.

Day 203 (29th of September, 2016) – Shanghai, China

I shamelessly committed to a 6am tutoring session, which, whilst initially being (admittedly) motivated by the money, ended up serving as a great way to wake me up and get me stuck into the day. My brain was switched on and ready to go by the time class came around. It reminded me of my routine at school and had my thinking that I ought to transition back into it because I feel better when I’m waking up earlier.

I was feeling so good, in fact, that I made an off-the-cuff decision to invite everyone sitting around me in class to lunch. Joining me were two girls from South Korea, two girls from Russia and a girl from America. If you haven’t worked it out yet, my class (like most language classes around the world) is about 90% female.

I followed the American girl, Ting Ting (I’ve forgotten her English name), to a restaurant of her choice. It was hidden amongst some run down looking buildings, but upon reaching the top floor I realised that it was much more grand than I was expecting.

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My conversation with Ting Ting slowly grew more and more depressing as I began to realise the lunch that I was in for. Our personalities did not align whatsoever. She made the table’s conversation incredibly awkward, constantly butting in to other people’s conversation to be aggressive, start an argument or to boast about her family’s wealth. It was very uncomfortable to sit by and watch, and most of us looked on in surprise as we waited patiently for the lunch to end.

Perhaps the part which annoyed me the most was our conversation about vegetarianism. The topic came up when we were ordering.

“OK, guys, I think we should order two vegetable dishes and two meat dishes. I’m a vegetarian.” Ting Ting got started.

We all agreed and made our choices before ordering. One of the vegetable dishes which Ting Ting had ordered had meat in it, but she requested to the waitress that this meat not be included. I thought it was an odd request to remove such a staple ingredient of a dish, but thought nothing of it. It was painful watching Ting Ting try to explain it to the waitress, though.

There’s not a very good translation for “vegetarian” in Chinese, mainly owing to the fact that they’re virtually non-existent in this country. The few times I’ve been with vegetarians at restaurants here have always involved a laborious process of explaining to the waiter why on Earth the specific person doesn’t eat meat.

In this particular case, the waitress was straight out confused. We weren’t sure if it was because of Ting Ting’s accent or because of the cultural differences of not having come across a vegetarian before.

Ting Ting began getting very angry, though.

“NO, NO, YOU DON’T GET IT. I DON’T EAT MEAT. I. DON’T. EAT. MEAT.”

I was feeling very, very uncomfortable sitting next to her. Her accent lends itself particularly well to these condescending shouting matches, which made it even worse.

In an effort to make friendly conversation with her after the ordeal, I asked her a question.

“May I ask why you’re a vegetarian. Is it for ethical reasons?”

“No,” she chuckled, “I just haven’t eaten it for six or seven years.”

“OK,” I thought to myself. Habit is an odd reason to be a vegetarian, but each to their own.

It got bad when the meal eventually came out with the meat in it, as stated on the menu. I was fending off the temptation to have a little explosion of my own when Ting Ting began giving the waitress a grilling.

To make things worse, Ting Ting also wouldn’t stop telling me about all the negative health consequences of consuming meat while I was eating my meal. I nodded with agreement while scoffing down my sweet and sour pork, soy sauce fish and lamb kofta. I assured her that I would think more carefully about my meat intake in the future. I couldn’t believe that I was pandering to this, but I wasn’t in the mood for any conflict which would last the remainder of my time here.

At the end of the meal, Ting Ting complained that she was still hungry.

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“Well why don’t you order another dish?” I suggested.

“I just didn’t really expect other people to eat so much of my vegetable dish.”

As some context, I took from her vegetable dish.

“Oh, yeah sorry. Maybe order another one then?” I suggested, beginning to really seethe on the inside.

“No, I don’t feel like it.”

“Mm. OK.” I nodded, doing my best to hide the eye-roll.

Ting Ting got up to go to the toilet and the rest of the group stared at each other. No words were needed. When she came back, Ting Ting announced that she had footed the bill. We went through the usual routine of “oh no you didn’t have to” before letting her have the satisfaction of backing up her claims of a wealthy background with genuine action.

The whole ordeal was probably worth the free meal.

I decided to wind down with yet another movie. This time I watched “Frances Ha”. I’m really enjoying my alternative films. This one was completely in black and white. It followed a Brooklyn woman in her twenties as she struggled to mature at the same pace of her friends. It was a pleasure to watch, though at times I did think that the whole attempt to be “hipster” and “indie” was a bit much.

During the movie I received a message from my North Carolina friend Carrie (the one who accompanied me to the police station). She told me that her friends had invited her out to dinner this evening and that I was welcome to join. It was perfect timing – I was desperate to hang out with someone who I had a real connection with.

Carrie and I went a little early to get a drink and met her friend Jake at Shaanxi Road station. We fought our way through the heavy rain to “The Chalet”, a bar which I found on Bon App and was rated highly. It absolutely lived up to the good reviews.

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It had a superb atmosphere and even a kitten which was sitting on the lounge next to us. The jazz music in the background made it feel like a more authentic Shanghai establishment. Best of all though, it provided a good place for me to get to know Jake. Jake is in his mid-20’s and is originally from England but grew up in NYC. He’s living in Shanghai working as a teacher while he networks and attempts to get his foot into the business world. We caught on like a house on fire. He listens to the same music as me, reads the same books as me and orders the same drinks as me. It was a relief to know that I’ll have some permanently good company in Shanghai through the likes of both Carrie and Jake.

Before long we moved on to the restaurant where I met Carrie’s wider group of friends, most of whom were also from the U.S. (Georgia, Wyoming and California). They were all kind-hearted people. The food was extremely exotic. Surprisingly so, actually. The most far-fetched dish I had was soy jellyfish. Everyone else was eating it nonchalantly, so I thought that I’d better join in. It was tasteless, but its texture was what made it interesting. It was crunchy and chewy at the same time – no other way to explain it. Essentially it was a soy-sauce delivery mechanism, but a very good one at that. I’d highly recommend it.

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We spent much of the evening discussing everyone’s respective plans for Golden Week. Like many of the others, I’ve decided to stay in Shanghai and avoid the chaos. I’ve still got too much of this city to discover to leave it so soon.

Day 204 (30th of September, 2016) – Shanghai, China

By 7:15am I was up and about riding through the university campus on my bike. Carrie had insisted that I meet her outside a local coffee shop to try her favourite street food breakfast and the most authentic coffee she could find. When I spotted her, she was already holding a sesame seed pancake ready for my tastebuds. It was superb. The coffee was also great and I’ll definitely be returning. I think that Carrie’s reason for returning is just as much the cat which the owner lets her play with as it is the coffee. Despite being in the same level of Chinese, Carrie and I are in different classes. So, we parted ways after the morning snack.

Class today was the three hour slog of intensive reading before getting off for a week straight of holidays. We were also told that we would be required to go to class next WEEKEND to make up for the holiday period. In other words, we get seven straight days of holidays and then seven straight days of class. The Chinese government always punishes people for their holidays – it is very depressing.

After class I found the first decent lunch that I’ve had in the university canteen.

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Then, from the afternoon until 9pm in the evening, I tutored non stop. I’ve got to re-earn the money which was stolen from me somehow…

Day 205 (1st of October, 2016) – Shanghai, China

Happy National Day! The People’s Republic of China was founded on this day in 1949. It also marks the beginning of seven straight days of holiday, so I’m a happy man!

I was up early for some tutoring and a quick stroll. Hongkou was remarkably quiet. That’s probably because so many people have left. Over the next week, China’s major tourist destinations are expected to receive 589 million visitors. Luckily, Hongkou isn’t one of those destinations. Central Shanghai is, though, so I’ll be doing everything I can to avoid that area.

Getting back to my room and logging onto the internet, my suspicions were confirmed. The first photos of Golden Week hell were already starting to emerge. This is a video taken from a crossing at Nanjing Road just 25 minutes on the subway away from my room. Human barriers are needed to control the crowd flow.

Todd arrived this morning. For those people who read my blog closely, you’d recall Todd as being my friend from Xuzhou who invited himself to stay with me for this weekend. I secured him a room elsewhere in my hotel and decided that I’d be at the train station to meet him at 11:30am.

It was good to see a familiar face from Xuzhou again. It brought back a lot of memories of my time there. Todd is a nice guy and his family are incredibly warm-hearted. It was good hearing about how they were going and catching up on the happenings from my old home.

As we talked, we made our way through the metro system back to Hongkou Football Stadium where we went to the Carrefour to pick up some drinks and snacks for my group of friends who were heading to Storm Festival. I received a call from Carrie with a very specific order of mint and frozen fruit for her cocktail, and after navigating my way through the confusing hypermarket aisles I finally emerged successful. Todd checked in to his room and we immediately left to meet up with the others. Carrie, Latisha, Su (another Canadian friend) and a girl from Mexico (due to my own forgetfulness I don’t remember her name) were all linking up for lunch before heading out to the festival together. Latisha and Su both swore on some 白面 baimian white noodles opposite their hotel as being the best food in the area. We took their word for it and made our way to the restaurant for the ¥14 (AU$2.74) feed.

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Sure enough, it was literally the best meal I have had in Hongkou. It was very similar to the zhajiangmian from Beijing. I need to work out what the very typical Asian ingredient is which darkens the colour of all of the noodles. It’s not soy sauce. It’s a bean of some sort which they lump in the middle of the dish and which slowly mixes in with everything. It has a deeply rich flavour and makes for a surprisingly filling dish.

At lunch Todd and I were having a good chat about our studies when he pulled out his wallet to pay for his meal. I laughed when I saw that he had included a picture of himself in the little window pane. I have noticed this in other locals’ wallets before (and on their phone wallpapers) – it’s a funny touch. Always good to remind yourself of what you look like in case you forget.

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Following the lunch, we all boarded the metro to make our way to the Storm Festival near Disneyland. The metro took well over an hour just as it did when I went to collect my tickets. Todd wasn’t too happy with how long everything was taking – I realised that he maybe hadn’t fully anticipated the meaning of the term “music festival” when I’d explained it to him. It turns out that he thought it would go for no longer than an hour. In reality, that was the length of the transport in one direction alone. I reassured him that he was spending his first day in Shanghai wisely. As someone who likes learning English and learning about foreigners, it was a good opportunity for him to experience some Western youth culture. As he began to witness the rowdiness, dancing and singing, I watched his reaction closely. I could tell that he was confused and even annoyed. After asking him about it, he said that none of what was happening conformed to “中国的传统价值观” (Chinese traditional values). This is a commonly cited phrase in China. It’s used to justify everything from healthy traditions like filial piety to misplaced values like arranged marriage. I made an agreement with Todd: today he would abandon his 传统价值观 and experience some Western fun to the fullest extent, and tomorrow I would return the favour by putting aside my background and conforming completely to a more Chinese ideal of a good day. He agreed and did his best to enjoy himself. The hardest part was convincing himself that even slightly swaying his body was OK, and that he needn’t memorise a “routine” to dance. A few of my own embarrassing moves showed him that there was nothing to be afraid of. If only Annie was there to show me how it was done…

Entering the festival it became quickly apparent that there lacked the same sort of life or vibe that an Australian festival has. But what it did have was a beer wall.

The Shanghainese LOVE their electronic music, and 25,000 people (what seemed like a 75:25 split of locals:foreigners) turned up in proof of that.

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There were three stages. The one pictured above is the smallest one, but all had a very similar design. What was most fun for the first few hours of this festival was getting to know everyone in the group better and having a dance with them.

 

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From left to right, that’s the Mexican girl, Carrie (American), Abbie (American), Su (Canadian), Latisha (Canadian), Todd, Joe (American) and I.

Despite most artists being Western, there were still a few homegrown DJ’s present. It was crazy hearing performers use Chinese to greet the crowd.

I think what she says is “是个记得很舒服。继续认识那,好吗?这下来这首歌叫做’热’。”, meaning “I have very comforting memories of it. Let’s keep it that way, OK? This next song is called ‘hot’.”

As the sun set, the stages began to appear more alien and futuristic.

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The music grew more intense too.

I can’t help but think that the shirtless man in the foreground of the video is probably the exact type of character as the one who mugged me, but I’ll hold back my judgement considering that I don’t even know the bloke…

Carrie snapped this video of me just before the final act. I must have been pretty tired and danced out…

The night ended with a bang. Skrillex brought back a lot of early-teen memories of discovering dubstep to be a guilty pleasure, and it was a lot of fun reliving that thankfully short period of my life. I’m glad to say that the electronic side of my music taste has since become more matured and cultivated, but it was still fun to reminisce on.

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Day 206 (2nd of October, 2016) – Shanghai, China

At 8am I battled exhaustion to wake up and head downstairs to get Todd up. It was such a short trip to Shanghai for him that I couldn’t help but feel bad. This might be his only visit here for a few years despite the fact that he only lives a couple of hours away. He’s visiting someone who lives a ten hour flight away in Sydney and yet has seen more of Shanghai than he has. He also stood for his whole train journey on the way to Shanghai because of the crowds, so I figured that it was only fair that I not be lazy and instead show him around this great city.

The weather was superb too.

The pollution readings hit some new lows for my time here. Beijing on the other hand wasn’t having such a stellar day.

I figured that it made for the perfect weather to go to the French Concession and get a nice coffee. I only got to see a few streets of Tianzifang with Dan, so I decided to bring Todd there and see everything it had to offer.

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The alleyways were crowded in parts.

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But, if you looked hard enough, you could find some gems which were more quiet.

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I enjoyed my morning coffee while Todd ate a wonton soup, both perched on seats next to some locals enjoying the warmth on their National Weekend.

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Since Xintiandi is only a short walk away, I decided to bring Todd there and show him the location of the first National People’s Congress.

I made my normal detour through some of the photography galleries. I find a lot of them to be very similar in this part of Shanghai, but I do love the recurring theme of photographing children eating exotic foods.

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We realised that Todd had forgotten to check out of the hotel and collect some things from his room, so we raced back to the hotel to do so. While we were back there, I asked Todd for some help resolving an issue with my Alipay account. Alipay is the official payment service run by Alibaba, and using it was the whole reason I set up a Chinese bank account. Unfortunately, my Alipay account is blocked since my passport number has already been used with an older account, that being the account with my old phone number on it (from the phone which was stolen). When attempting to change the phone number, I’m blocked from doing so because I already created a new account with my new phone number.

To sum it all up, both of my accounts are blocked because of something contained in the other account. To make things worse, it seems like I can’t delete either account for reasons beyond me.

Unfortunately, after a bit of frustration and confusion, it turned out that Todd didn’t know any more than I did. We resigned to me not being able to have an Alipay account, and I would instead order whatever I needed on Taobao through him (you can’t use any other payment method with Taobao). I thanked Todd and ordered two blocks of Cadbury chocolate, a stack of face masks and bulk hand sanitiser. He told me after that it was a win-win, because when I payed him the money in person or over WeChat he would pocket it despite having used his Dad’s credit card on Taobao. I laughed and turned a blind eye to it, figuring that I was better of forgetting that I ever knew about the blatant theft.

Upon leaving my room, Todd stopped me. He had a gift for me. Some of you may recall the time when Todd bought me a lollipop with my face printed in it. Well, this one’s even better.

It was certainly a left-field gift. I felt bad that I hadn’t thought to buy him anything in return. I quickly rummaged through my room and found next to nothing. I realised that we had a conversation earlier in the day about a typical Australian breakfast, and he told me that he had never heard of cereal. Spotting an unopened box of Nutri-Grain in my room, I figured that it was as good of a gift as any to give to my Chinese mate.

The cereal-giving made me realise how hungry I was. We both agreed that yesterday’s baimian was unebelievable, so we went back to the same restaurant for some more. I ate three bowls. I don’t know how I monstered that much food – it’s unlike me.

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Our next destination was Lujiazui where we admired the breathtaking skyscrapers of Shanghai.

Every time I’m back here I stand in awe for a few minutes with my neck craned vertically. Take a closer look at some of the buildings. They are spectacular structures.

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This one seems like it’s taken directly from Ghostbusters.

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Todd pointed out the “green row” of buildings which I hadn’t previously noticed. It makes Shanghai seem far more worthy of the title of “Emerald City” than the Wizard of Oz.

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I was also able to snap a picture from the exact same location as is featured in the current cover image of my blog (I hope you like the new design, by the way). I love the image so, so much.

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I got one with me in it too.

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I was surprised that we were also able to snap one without any other people in it. It was quite an isolated part of the bridge.

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Todd and I made sure to get a photo together before he set off back home.

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Todd and I exchanged a friendly goodbye and pledged to see each other again sometime soon before I made my way back to my room to get stuck into the evening’s HSC tutoring.

I became very thankful that I hadn’t brought Todd to Nanjing Road after Carrie sent me this video from the area. This was taken by her when she was stuck in traffic in a cab…

The sea of people was difficult to comprehend. Back in my room, I looked up the Chinese news only to be hit with more pictures of what was going on around me in the country. I’m glad I didn’t leave the city!

It was only 8pm by the time I collapsed into my bed and fell asleep. At 9pm I woke up to the sound of the fiercest electrical storm I have heard all year. Thunder was literally shaking the building – an abrupt change from the day’s perfect weather. As I lay in bed, a fever slowly began to come over me and I began feeling sicker and sicker. Before long I found myself running for the bathroom to vomit. The weather must have been pathetic fallacy. I spent the next two hours toppled over my washing bucket trying to vomit but without having any success until I eventually fell asleep on the side of my bed. Perhaps it was the bowls of baimian… I guess I’ll never know. They were damn good noodles, though. Won’t put me off having them again.

[SPOILER ALERT] I woke up feeling better. No need to worry.

Until next time,
Xavier.

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6 thoughts on “Storms and STORM

  1. Xave,
    Thanks for the weekly blog of your travels & experiences. I loved the photo of Todd’s friend on the right when he opened his wallet. She looks like she had her little sisters shorts on.
    200 days gone,
    126 days to go. You will find that they will go so fast. Like a roll of toilet paper the closer you get to the end the faster it seems to go.
    You may have heard Frankie not happy with the new house, and has been moving out on a few occasions, but to find her wandering the streets of Tianzifang a bit of a worry????
    Love
    G & P

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Can safely say I had on longer shorts than that. Very insightful words with the toilet paper analogy – it’s very true. I did hear about Frankie which is a bit of a worry… Hopefully she learns not to run away soon.

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  2. Really enjoying the blog posts, always a highlight of my week! Especially good timing as the HSC approaches… this post has somehow made me feel calmer as it reminds me there is a whole other world outside of the bubble of Sydney-living, and no matter what mark I get, there are always other places I can explore aside from Sydney’s universities. Hope you continue to have a great time, aside from the unexpected episode of vomiting 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Imogen! That’s very nice to hear. Good luck with your HSC – you’ll smash it regardless of how nervous you are. And you’re absolutely right: it will be a distant memory before long.

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