Monday, March 1, 2010
Day 2: Shanghai Surprise
Breakfast was so so good, charging me up for a nice long day. Rice congee w/shrimp, dumplings 2 BBQ pork & 2 sweet paste (tasted like ube or mungo bean). Of course coffee! The little bowls are tufo and one fuzzy thing that was salty but no one knows how to translate it into English for me so I just call it salty sawdust, same texture.
Traffic jam is not the word to describe what Shanghai has. It's like a traffic mud, cuz as you try to breakaway, it makes this great sucking noise as a hole opens up in front of you and fills in quickly behind you. And I thought Manila drivers were crazy. In Shanghai; well in China, they don't stop at the corners they don't even look up.
Then on a bridge from Puxi to Pudong, traffic comes to a virtual dead stop. It crawls and stubbornly bullies it way through as one car or truck(I couldn't see it) had fallen off the bridge and was burning badly and resulted in a 5 TRUCK pile up. Let me tell you, the tow truck that was trying to get through screaming at the cars to get out of his way, never moved any faster through traffic than we did. Well, it probably helped that my driver immediately followed the emergency tow truck so we got through some of the traffic. Check out the video at www.flickr.com/fatal_romantic
Lunch was at a small neighborhood place. When we pulled up there was construction so we walked over some rubble and crossed on a sidewalk. I walked in and was greeted by large tanks with a variety of fish which probably ended up on my table later.
They brought in local chicken, a pickled vegetable that I couldn't name, looked like it might have been a stalk of something, but it tasted good. Actually there were a few vegetables I couldn't recognize. Next was an omelet that had eggs, green onions, and small smelt-all white and wormy looking. Again, out of deference, I ate it. Had a problem with the crunchy tail and had real problems with the bones so I gave up after 2 bites, swallowing and trying not to gag.
But I really wanted to eat the chicken in cashews, something I recognized. Then as the dish came closer to me; it didn't look quite right. I noticed giant garlic, uncrushed that swam in brown sauce. Then when I lifted it out, I saw that it was…wait for it….
A full sized frog, not just his legs, but his arms and his head too. They told me to take one whole frog for myself and as I lifted it out of the serving platter, something else seemed to be attached…do frogs have genitalia?
So I ate it, cuz here was the time any visitor to another country is eventually faced with; weird food. Yeah, it tasted like chicken, it was actually good, after I ate the legs, I flipped it over and ate more, then I lifted skin and saw what looked like his lungs and stopped. When the girl came by to change my plate, she wanted to know if I was finished and my host told her to take it away from me, laughing, I must have turned green.
Get it? I ate a frog and turned green…hahaha…
Remember the construction and the rubble? By the time we finished with lunch; a little bit over an hour; the sidewalk was gone, having been torn out by gigantic earth moving machines. The street was already filling with whatever they put in the streets in China. It didn't look like rock or cement, it looked like dried mud. I walked out and stared up at the teeth of this behemoth as it roared in the afternoon, literally, only feet away. I'd never felt so conscious of my unprotected head in my entire life. My host pulled me aside as we waited for another car since the car we came in was now stuck.
I fell asleep in the car that, what had taken 40mins earlier in the morning, now had turned into a 2hr drive back into Shanghai. But the nap was good for me, for I had more dinner plans. Back to the Bund area, there is a special place that Shanghai created to remind itself what Shanghai USED to look like, I would have been fooled if it weren’t for the Starbucks.
I never did get to go shopping, the traffic was horrific, but I wouldn't have changed one minute, because it was all about the experience of being ....wait for it....wait for it....