From Tom & Holly - China – A Day of Cultural Learning – March 26, 2013
Wo xieng shang ce suo. I want to go to the toilet. I am trying to teach Holly some important basic Chinese.
When we travel to a completely new culture we also end up blowing a lot of money on the first day of new experiences because we don’t have a clue on what we are doing.
Cultural Experience Number 1: This is probably the greatest language barrier we have faced in our travels other than maybe Greece and we are in a very westernized section of Shanghai, wait until we get to some of the small towns and villages. All part of the travel experience.
Cultural Experience Number 2: Chinese food in US lot ‘cheapa’ than Chinese food in China five star hotel.
Cultural Experience Number 3: Don’t eat first meal in 5 star hotel when you are not hungry because you have been eating for the last 24 hours on an airplane. An a la Carte menu doesn’t mean inexpensive, 80 US Dollars for 2 orders of Fried Rice and another 50 US dollars for 2 Chinese Beers and 2 glasses of wine. Glad the Chinese beer was good. When we walked around the area by the hotel when we first got here we found a Hooters about a block from the hotel, I really didn’t expect that in China. Maybe we should have tried their Buffalo Peking Duck Wings.
Last night at least I had something real Chinese. It was called Nasi Goreng, which is fried rice with chicken, beef satay, grilled prawns, fried egg, and prawn cracker. Sounded authentic! The rice was super spicy and formed into a round patty with the fried egg on top looking at you. The prawn cracker was the entire prawn, huge one, cracked and then stuffed with something. The chicken wings were fabulous but very different than we have. Sort of became crumbs as you ate them. I was sorry there were only two of them. The beef was on a skewer and came with two sauces. I don’t even want to guess what was in them but I’m not sick this morning so must be ok.
Cultural Experience Number 4: When our waiter came to the table he took the American silverware away from my place setting and left me with only chopsticks while leaving Holly with her silverware. No idea why, but now I have a shirt and pants that needs cleaning.
Cultural Experience Number 5: The pretty blond from the Ukraine that we met in the elevator turned out to be the piano player in the lobby bar. We were expecting an Asian piano player.
Cultural Experience Number 6: Always reeducate yourself on Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion before you set the thermostat in your room. We set the thermostat before we left to eat, we came back to icicles hanging in the room. We relearn this every time we travel internationally.
Cultural Experience Number 7: In our room there is the usual hotel sign reading, if we want to save the environment, hang our towels back up on the rack. I wonder if this is to make us feel at home. I must add that our country might be trying to save the environment but China, at least at the Pudong, Shangrri-la Hotel, has the most polite, courteous people. It is almost embarrassing how good they are to you.
We are off for a day of touring and picture taking.
Spend the afternoon; you can’t take it with you.Annie Dillard
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. -- Yep especially when you pay the bill!
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Tom & Holly