Sunday, August 3, 2008

Brandon in China, and closings

Brandon's here! It's so great to see him after not seeing him for 45 days. He arrived Thursday night, and we took an airport bus from Pudong International back to our hotel in the northern part of the city. Immediately he got a taste of the insanity of China crowds. They crammed about 55 people too many on the bus, and we were all squished together in the aisles with barely enough room to breathe. Brandon was shoved down the steps toward the door and inhaled an old man's stale breath the entire ride, so I think he would have preferred not to be breathing as well. A guy from Iraq was standing by me. After asking me where I was from, he said, "Ah, yes. There are many American soldiers in Iraq right now." At which point I cringed and said, "I'm sorry." He said it's okay because it's "coming up," whatever that means. He then said that he loves Obama, like everyone else I've met here. Obama truly has international appeal, and I wish that the world had a vote, not just Americans. Our president and our economy affect the world in such a large way, it would only make sense for the world to vote for the next American president. Anyway, this Iraqi guy was a jolly, round-bellied chap who confessed that he didn't like Chinese food and preferred the American fast-food joints to anything else. (Hence the pouch belly.) Turned out he was staying at the same hotel as we were, so we shared a cab back from the football stadium.

On our day off on Friday, we went to Pudong. The best part was going up in the Jin Mao tower. The rest of the area was pretty lame. Plus it was one of those deathly hot days, and we came home exhausted in the middle of the day to nap and escape the scorch. I didn't want the day to be a waste for Brandon's sake, so he and I ventured out to Xitiandi Lu after dark to meander along the road I call "the Short North of Shanghai."

Next day Rach and I had to teach, then we went down to Nanjing Rd. and the Bund with Brandon. Stopped to observe a group of people dancing on the corner (see picture). Love that. Wish people at home did that more. The old guy in the red shirt was hilarious.
Poor Brandon was dragging by the end of the night. I thought I was going to have to carry him home. But he laid his head on my back and fell asleep on the busride home, and that was fine with me. (I was on his lap b/c it was so crowded.) The bus stopped for about a half hour because some guy lost his wallet. Where, we don't know. Did he suspect someone on the bus stole it? No. But the authorities will go ahead and inconvenience half of Shanghai so that we can all be uselessly concerned. "It's custom in China," some guy tells Rachel.

Today Rach and I had to teach again, and Brandon went down to the Old China city on his own. It's nice that I can just let him go on his own and know that there's little chance he'll get lost b/c he's so good with directions/maps/knowing where he is at all times. In class I taught the kids about Halloween, a holiday not celebrated in China. I blabbed about the history of the holiday (did you know it originated in Ireland?), then let the kids go "trick or treating" with me. I gave them pencils and candy as they recited "trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat." It was fun, and once again I owe my mother for being right. All the teaching ideas she gave me before I left have been so useful. I guess she really knows what she's talking about! :)

Tomorrow is the last day of teaching. I'll be glad to be done, to have a break, to rest, but I'm sad to leave the kids and to leave the friends we've met here (Huang Biao, Parker, Rosco). It's been quite an experience. Not sure I would have jumped in so readily if I'd known what I was in for, but I'm definitely glad I came so it's better I didn't.

And then...August 5th, we're taking the sleeper train to Beijing. Can't wait!

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