I did it! I made the jump across the Pacific to China, although I haven't quite reached my final destination yet. On August 12, a friend and I flew from Charlotte to Toronto (where I had my first - great - couchsurfing experience,) to Shanghai. One of my friends from studying abroad in Xiamen has been living there for a year, so she kindly offered us a place to stay the night. It was so wonderful to have a "soft landing." I was only supposed to stay for 2 nights, but because of some problems with my work permit, I ended up staying two weeks! (My friend and her roommate are saints for letting me extend my stay so long!)
It's been a really fun two weeks. I've gotten to see more of Shanghai, a city I loved from my brief visit here two years ago, and hang out with my friend. Not to mention watch a few episodes of Mad Men and other TV shows. I do love cheap Chinese DVDs. ;)
Most of my time has been spent in a district called the French Concession, as that is where my friend lives. I've seen People's Square, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and a lot of interesting things right on the street-side - like the Bird, Fish and Insect Market, or the street vendors selling delicious peaches. Nothing is ever boring in China! There is a lot of construction here right now, in preparation for the World Expo. In the picture below you can see the remnants of the sidewalk along the street where I've been staying.
Meet 海宝 (Haibao,) the mascot of the 2009 Shanghai World Expo:
(I think he's supposed to be the sea personified, or something of that sort.)
Shanghai has lots of great, ultra-modern architecture, mixed in with old European style buildings. For example:
Cross your fingers for me that my Chinese improves greatly while I'm here. Currently, my Chinese is TERRIBLE. I can order food like a pro (Would I like it to go? Yes, please. With rice? Of course.) But everything else? Nada. My friend had someone come to install a shower curtain rod while I was there during the day, and I was no help at all. Do I know the word for…:
Anything at all useful?
Haha, luckily the gentleman was VERY patient.