Overdue update

The last few weeks have been hectic at work, leaving me with little time to update, and no internet at the apartment made it even harder.

Last weekend I went to Painter Street to check out pricing on custom made paintings.
I had around 40 different shops to choose from, all of which had beautiful art work.  I came across one shop that offered the style painting I was looking for, and to my luck, the woman spoke enough English that I could communicate exactly what I wanted.  She took me to a hidden gallery where the artist was, an older man and apparently a famous Chinese actor.  The self-portraits on the wall made him seem important, if not to anyone else, at least himself ha! He was a kind man, complimented me [or so she claimed] and gave me a good deal on a painting.  I was able to watch him paint, which didn’t take as long as I thought it would.  They were very generous and even offered me food to take home. Needless to say, I will be returning for more!

I also went to a nail salon near my apartment to check out prices, and the woman greeted me in English, so I figured I would give her the business as long as she understood what I wanted.  “Hello” was one of maybe ten English words she knew, but she was hilarious.  I taught her how to say “cuticle” and “manicure” and she taught me a few things in Chinese – one of which was a Chinese name that she insisted on giving me: “Qián duō duō” (chi-en do do), which supposedly means “lots of money” ha! She gave herself the name Rosa, and said I am her new best friend so she gave me her number and wants to go out with me to meet a tall American or German with a big nose, haha!  That was the most entertaining manicure I have ever experienced, and although her prices are a little more expensive than other places, she gives me “best friend discount” so I will keep giving her the business.

Last Sunday’s weather was beautiful, so I ventured to Zhongshan Park and spent a few hours relaxing on the grass by a pond.

It was packed with families picnicking, playing games, and flying kites.  A lot of people were taking advantage of the paddle-boats, which I will have to go back and experience myself at some point.  There was an American fellow that sat near where I was and played his guitar for a while.  He intrigued many of the older Chinese, so it was amusing to watch them watch him.  Before I left, I took a walk around the rest of the park, but it is very large so I do not think I saw everything.  There was an area where dozens of couples were dancing, what looked like a traditional Chinese dance, and other areas where music performers attracted crowds.  I hadn’t realized it was Earth Day until later, so I’m glad I can say I enjoyed the outdoors!

I stumbled upon a Mexican restaurant the other week, more specifically, The Cantina Agave, and I was ecstatic because I miss The Cantina in Philly.  Especially in the springtime with their outdoor seating, $10 Margarita pitchers and free chips&salsa – can’t beat it! Anyway, Chris and I went to this Cantina for dinner one night. The food was good, although they don’t offer free chips&salsa, they have discounted Margarita pitchers, outdoor seating and seems popular with the westerners – so I think I found where I’m spending Cinco De Mayo this year!

This past weekend I had to work Saturday, due to the May holiday, and had Sunday through Tuesday off.  I wandered around the city by myself on Sunday.  There were a lot of sales because of the holiday, so I bought a pair of sandals since I stupidly forgot to pack any.  I went out for drinks that evening and met some newcomers to Shanghai, which was nice to be in similar company.  Yesterday, Chris and I went to the Strawberry Festival.  It’s a three daylong music festival that is usually based in Beijing, but they brought it to Shanghai for the first time this year.  Bands started around 1:30pm and the last band went on around 9:30pm.  There were four different stages set up in the Expo Park, which made for beautiful scenery. We stayed for the entire day [had to get our moneys worth!] and had such a fun time.  I think we spent the majority of our time at the Electronic Stage, as did most westerners, or so it seemed!

It was situated right along the river with the Lupu bridge in the background. The bridge lights up at night, so it looked awesome in combination with the colorful lights from the stage and display screens.  We made friends with a bunch of people and ended up going out in the city with them afterwards.  We started at a random hostel because they had cheap beer and then roamed Nanjing Road – similar to Times Square – tons of stores and restaurants and always crowded.  We passed several restaurants that kept yelling “English menu!” to lure us in, until we finally decided on one and had a nice feast at 10pm.  We ended the night at a House of Blues & Jazz, awesome atmosphere and great live music.

This workweek is only three days, so it should fly by just as the rest of my time here has! I can’t believe it’s May already!


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