Published: Friday, 11 February 2011 05:31
Today it was a light day - the first rainy day of the trip. Nothing major, just something you didn't want to be hanging out in.
The highlight today was getting a new Sigma 24mm, 1.8 lens. What a sweet piece of glass. Love the images that it is putting out. Less light is required, meaning I can shoot in low light conditions.
Debbie went with Shandy to get her pedicure. I was invited, but that was simply too much.
Dinner tonight with the Bolton's was a delight. The chopsticks are starting to work out. Love everything about the host culture so far.
Published: Wednesday, 09 February 2011 12:00
Today was filled with beautiful gardens and shopping at knockoff stores.
The details at the crafted gardens was immaculate. Even though we are here in the winter, it is apparent that this place must be absolutely gorgeous when all the folliage is in complete bloom. The garden we attended in an older section of town, was built in 1760 after a bumper crop. The owner had a serious bent for a quiet place inside of a push and shove neighborhood.
Shopping in Shanghai is an experience for itself. There is a drama with every purchase. People chase you down inviting you into their shop. If you do not find anything you want, they take you to a "friend's" store.
Once you find something of interest, the bargaining begins. The merchant pulls a calculator and tells you about the special price they are going to give you - it is the year of the rabbit, so I am going to give you a happy new year price. They show you a price in the calculator, then whack that in half.
Generally, you start at somewhere about a third of the given price. They will counter, and you can decide if you will budge. The drama has to continue: Be prepared to walk. Until you walk away, you have not shown that you are serious. They will let you go ... eight feet out the store, then run after you. You will get your price.
Crazy, yet fully enjoyable.
Although Debbie kept giving me the stink-eye, I ordered a pork dumpling off a street corner vendor. I just gotta do it. She ate, but I still have not heard the end of it. Seriously, it was great and even six hours later there are no ill effects.
Debbie did insist on chasing the dumpling with a drink from Starbucks. Some are just not destined for adventure.
Published: Wednesday, 09 February 2011 00:00
We have made it to the beautiful city of Shanghai. It is far more modern, far prettier, far more advanced than I could have even imagined.
Some of my initial observations are comical. We stay with friends from Germany that are now hired in as engineering expertise. Part of the agreement with the host employer is that they have a driver at all times. Mr. Soon takes us around to various sites across Shanghai - always stopping in the street to make sure that I get the photo.
I have never seen more dedicated service - attention to your every whim when entering stores. If you stop and look at a product. Turn to the left and another employee is standing at your shoulder. Turn right, yet another.
On the street it is not much different. Street vendors with their wares are eager to peddle their colorful products.
The cuisine is absolutely fabulous. The only problem is my inability to use chopsticks. In that all that is served has been so tasty, I keep battling the two wooden sticks until my hand cramps. Sitting with me at the table and you would think that I have reverted to being a toddler, learning to eat. Table manners are simply gone. Disgusting what I have become, but everything is too delicious to care what others think.
One thing that has struck me is the curiosity of the locals. We have been followed a number of times by young and old alike - just wanting to get a better look. Too funny.
One of the restrictions is that Facebook is not available. Getting my Blackberry to hook up to wifi and the internet has been unsuccessful to this point. This makes communication really restricted.
We are off today to explore more of Shanghai.