Day 112: That Girl

TIL people view me as someone who apparently always needs WiFi to update my blog.

While at a pre-departure meeting for our International Labor Day weekend trip to Anhui Province (yes, another weekend trip, but at least we get this weekend free and it’s our last one of the semester), our program trip coordinator pointed out that there will be WiFi access in the lobby of the hotels we will stay at. Immediately, I notice at least five people turn and stare directly at me. #what #EMBARRASSING #whyME

So that was an interesting realization. But I haven’t been the only one who complains about not having good or convenient Internet access. I guess I’m an easy target because I do try to keep up daily reports and voice my displeasures at not being able to do so during our group outings.

Maybe I’ll also be known as someone who says “hashtag ART” when admiring good photography in public or takes selfies while procrastinating on a book review essay, for which I already received an extension.

#selfie

#procrastinationselfie!

On the way back from the pre-departure meeting, my Cantonese pengyou pointed out a group of elderly dancers outside a gym dancing to some upbeat tunes. Apparently, she sees them almost every night. (I apologize for the crappy quality. I took it across the street at night while walking with other people. And after that incident of being indirectly called out as the annoying blogger, I didn’t want to make too big of a scene by trying to take a better photo.)

Chinese seniors dancing

My observant Cantonese pengyou also pointed out how these stuffed animals in a coffee shop we stopped at looked like YouTube’s Wong Fu Productions’ awkward animals.

Wong Fu Productions awkward giraffe?

Wong Fu Productions awkward giraffe?

I shared a brownie with another friend at this shop, but the brownie was incredibly disappointing. It was more of a dense cake than the rich, decadent brownie that we were expecting, and for 26 RMB and a longer-than-necessary wait, it wasn’t worth it.

Disappointing "brownie" at Kane's on Daxue Lu

Disappointing “brownie” at Kane’s on Daxue Lu. Not as good as it may look.

Day 111: Penguin Publishing

Even though I had quite a lot of work to get done, I decided to go to the Hopkins China Forum that my history professor emailed me about. The managing director of Penguin Books in China, Jo Lusby, spoke about her role and publishing in China—because interestingly enough, you can’t actually publish anything in China, only do everything up to that point, such as translations. The event held at the Wooden Box cafe near West Nanjing Road had a pretty huge turnout, despite the rain.

I didn’t stay afterward to see if I could grab a copy of one of the limited number of China-related books she had brought (her assistant claimed that we needed to have bought a drink to get one…), or to network. Frankly, I just wanted to get home and do work. (Yeah, how unfortunate.) Thankfully, this next week will be comparatively calmer. No field trip this weekend or essays or dictations. Finally time to relax.

Young China Watchers lecture

Seated in the second row at the Wooden Box on Qinghai Road.

Day 110: Kaixiangong

Our second day with the group of about 80 Fudan SSDPP students and faculty began at 7 a.m. with a very Chinese breakfast, complete with warm powdered milk, mantou, zhou (rice porridge), boiled eggs, egg noodles with a simple sauce, and more.

Then we made our way by private bus to Kaixiangong, or Jiangcun, a village about two hours away from Huaxi that’s slightly more well-off than a typical Chinese village.

Kaixiangong vegetable market

First stop: Jiangcun’s market.

Kaixiangong tea

A village special-TEA. Get it?

Kaixiangong noodles

Exploring the villages after lunch and interview with a local family.

Kaixiangong cloth factory

Visiting a manufacturer of clothing, bedding, etc.

Kaixiangong cloth factory Kaixiangong cloth factory Kaixiangong cloth factory Kaixiangong cloth factory

Kaixiangong cloth factory

Workers sew pieces together.

Kaixiangong cloth factory

Storage full of finished clothing.

Kaixiangong

View of Kaixiangong from the top of the cloth factory.

Day 109: Huaxi Hype

Huaxi is known as China’s richest village. A quick Google search of the village will bring up plenty of results full of fascinating facts about how Huaxi resembles North Korea, with ridiculously rich residents not being able to leave the village or have access to clubs or bars.

So interesting, right? Except for the fact that the seven international students who tagged along Fudan SSDPP’s trip didn’t exactly get the most out of it, with every single activity—from tours to lectures—in Chinese.

Huaxi

About half-an-hour’s worth of pure propaganda. FUN.

Huaxi

China’s version of a suburb?

Plus, the weather simply sucked.

Huaxi

Just our luck. Clouds cover the famous Longxi International Hotel.

Huaxi

“WTF.” This just about sums up my day in Huaxi.

Please note the dripping sarcasm in some of the following captions:

Huaxi

Exciting. Checking out some veggies at a greenhouse.

Huaxi's  Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile

Huaxi’s Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile. Since residents can’t leave the village without permission, the village brings famous monuments to them.

Huaxi entertainment

Is this what Huaxi does for entertainment? Abuse of poor animals?

Huaxi

Huaxi, too, has a Great Wall.

Huaxi

Five of China’s most famous bridges blended into one. What originality.

But at least one thing definitely was cool: dinner with some VIPs, including the wife of the current village chief and Fudan’s dean and other leaders. The disgusting baijiu (vodka) that we were forced to drink during the rowdy dinner was also an interesting highlight.

Dinner at a Huaxi villa

Met and dined with the daughter-in-law of the former village chief!

I had high expectations for our hotel (幸福园七号塔宾馆). After all, it looks so nice on the outside.

Huaxi hotel

The hotel we stayed at belongs to a group of nine identical buildings.

Unfortunately, there is no working WiFi and amenities are basic. Rooms were spacious but the overall experience was quite disappointing.

At least in the morning, I could finally see the rest of the village, which had been covered by clouds and rain the day before.

Huaxi

Morning after a rainy day in Huaxi. The view from our hotel.

Huaxi's Longxi International Hotel

Finally—clouds aren’t covering the top of Huaxi’s Longxi International Hotel.

Day 108: Western Food

As much as I love cheap Chinese food, I do miss the occasional Western cuisine.

Before heading into work today, I dined with my roommate and a friend at a City Weekend 2014 Reader’s Choice Award winner, Pizza Express, located in the shopping center across from the Henderson Metropolitan.

DELISH.

PIzza Express in Shanghai

Delicious Mediterranean pizza from Pizza Express in Shanghai.

PIzza Express in Shanghai

Dough balls with Nutella may be one of the best dessert combinations ever.

Day 107: Not Again

Somehow, I forgot to take a photo today.

I’m going to make up for it. Soon.

Edit: Here’s a fascinating photo of the crappy folder in which we received our next readings for our internship seminar. These folders are useless—even our program director said so. You can’t fit paper inside, and they fall apart so easily, as you can see on the right of the same folder we received earlier in the semester, now in a dilapidated state.

Unusable BU folders

Pretty but unusable folders.

Day 106: Aromatic Massage

According to my Fitbit, I walked about 25,000 steps yesterday. Yes, 25,000. So the massage I received today at CHI: The Spa at the Jing’an Shangri-La hotel could not have come at a better time.

I nearly fell asleep during it, and it made me pretty tired throughout the rest of the day. Tired or relaxed? Whatever it was, I just wanted to sleep at the mixer.

CHI: The Spa at Jing'an Shangri-La

Treatment room.

CHI: The Spa at Jing'an Shangri-La

The reception area sells the spa’s amenities, including slippers and towels.

CHI: The Spa at Jing'an Shangri-La

The beautiful reception area.

Day 105: Curiosity

It’s amazing how quickly and surreptitiously I can take photos now. Today, for example, I saw someone in a cute bear costume outside one of Fudan’s dining halls. I have no idea why it was there, but I just had to try to snap a photo. Given how quickly I did it, I didn’t expect to have taken a good shot, but somehow, I came out with this:

Bear costume on Fudan campus

??

IT’S NOT BLURRY. And it even aligns perfectly according to photography’s “rule of thirds.” Amazed. I also finally took a photo of one of Fudan’s many roaming cats. Usually, I don’t have the balls to whip out my phone and take a photo, with people around, but this time, I had taken a route with no one around, and the cat didn’t run away before I managed to take a photo. Success.

Cat on Fudan campus

Finally got a photo of one of the many roaming cats on Fudan’s campus.

Day 104: What Are Nails?

My manicure from Helen Nail Spa more than a month ago has lasted an impressively long time. At last, having discovered some rare free time this afternoon after my Chinese film midterm, I went to a nail salon next to the Tohee International Student Village, where manicures cost as cheap as 48 RMB, with gel starting at 78 RMB.

The shop can only fit two customers at a time—it’s that small. When I entered, two customers had been sitting around waiting for their pedicures to dry, and two employees sat huddled together on their phones. A friend of theirs sat in front of one of the two seats.

Walking in, I asked in Chinese if I could get a manicure now. Unfortunately, “nails” in Chinese is apparently annoyingly difficult to pronounce, so the employees didn’t understand, but luckily, their friend repeated it for them in Chinese in the correct tones.

I had heard from other friends in the program who had visited this place that they knew English and wanted to improve it, but I guess through a combination of our shyness and lack of desire to communicate in Chinese or even English, we largely remained silent, while their friend occasionally reread messages from boys on WeChat to the employees, complained about being hungry, or said to no one in particular how busy she felt.

At first, their friend had asked me where I was from, among other questions, but her level of vocabulary was too high for me, so it was hard to understand. She assumed she was speaking too fast, but really, I just couldn’t understand her vocabulary. So that was that.

In the middle of the manicure, the other employee had taken a phone call from whom I assume was an international client. Afterward, she asked me what “nails” meant. I translated it in Chinese, and this time they understood, though my tones probably were still a bit off. Hmm, I thought. What happened to them knowing English? If anything, they should know what “nails” meant.

In a way, I did feel regretful for not communicating more throughout the hour-long manicure, but I simply wasn’t in the mood to. It was my time to relax, after all. They weren’t going to simplify their vocabulary or start speaking in English (I overheard their friend even saying that her English is quite good but she just can’t speak it). And I wasn’t about to keep asking what certain characters meant and have them think condescendingly of me. I shouldn’t be so self-conscious, though. Next time, I told myself.

Gel nails

Round two.

Day 103: Babies

Breakfast at the Holiday Inn was superb.

At our first stop of the day at Tiger Hill, we were largely just overwhelmed by the sheer size of tourists. We’ll never get used to it. Luckily, among the crowds are the cutest Chinese babies. We were all particularly fond of this bundle of joy.

Cute Asian baby at Tiger Hill

Cute Asian babies were everywhere.

Tiger Hill Pagoda

China’s Leaning Tower of Pisa: the Tiger Hill Pagoda.

A huge chunk of our time also was spent laughing at the unfortunate non-Asians of the group, who were subjected to taking photos with the locals.

Asian tourists' fascination with other-colored people

Someone please explain to me Asian tourists’ fascination with other-colored people.

Hanshan Temple

Hanshan Temple. I think I’ve visited quite enough temples within the past two months.