Haga’s parents arrived two Saturdays ago and left today. Since Haga had to work during the week, my responsibility was to take them everywhere.
Saturday: They arrive. We go out for Mongolian lamb hotpot. They are impressed with the tasty food. I almost kill waitress for being an idiot.
Sunday: We travel to Suzhou. Pictures are in the gallery. Suzhou is an hour train ride out of Shanghai. The city has a marketing program that originated a couple of hundred years ago. A poem everyone knows: Above is Heaven/ below is Suzhou and Hangzhou. The poem does not sound right in English…The last syllable of the first line (Heaven) rhymes with the last syllable of HangZhou. Anyway, Suzhou was a major tourist stop before there was such a thing as Chinese tourists. However, today, Suzhou seems rather industrial and dirty compared to Shanghai. I guess most places do. We visited some ancient garden resorts and took a cool boat ride on one of the canals. Haga’s parents are pretending to be old now. They walk really slowly. Haga’s dad says he has problems with his knees. I think they are faking it. We ate LanZhou Pulled noodles (Muslim food) for lunch. Haga’s parents were impressed. We waited in the train station for 2 hours before we could get on a train back. Had Northeastern Dumpling King food for dinner. Waitress said Hagaâ€™s father looks like a Chinese man (which is a compliment). They were very impressed…but they mainly liked the Spicy – sour potato strips dish.
Monday: Early afternoon took the parents to get a massage. Then I bought some knee compression things for Dad so he would have less excuses. Then took them to Nanjing road- the main glitzy touristy shopping district. Pictures in the gallery. We later met up with Haga and went to have Shanghai Crab. They liked it, but were not impressed. SH Crab is the second most overrated food in China. After dinner, we walked back to Nanjing road, did some shopping. Then walked down the street. Checked out some garbage shops. I bargained then didn’t buy anything. Later walked down to the Bund.
Tuesday: Ate BaoZi steamed buns for breakfast. They were impressed. But they mostly liked the XiaoMai, which is basically a dumpling stuffed with rice. Took them to a sort of old temple area tourist place. We all bought presents and stuff. Mom saw stuff she wanted, but didn’t buy. So when she decided she wanted to buy it, we retraced our steps (through my navigation leadership) and found the shop. We walked the whole area twice. Then I went to Toastmasters meeting.
Wednesday: Dumpling King restaurant for brunch. Ate ZhaJiang noodles…sort of salty simple hand-made noodles. They were pretty impressed. Then went to the Fake Goods market and bought some stuff. I bargained constantly and pissed off a lot of vendors when I got the price down and didn’t buy. Typical conversation:
J: How much?
V: 300 kuai.
J: OK. You are joking.
V: Friend, you name your price. How much you want?
J: 40 Kuai.
V: You find this for 40 Kuai and I’ll buy it from you.
V: Seriously. Name your price.
J: 40 Kuai. You won’t take a loss. [gawkers who find it incredibly amazing that a white-y can bargain in Chinese have started to gather]
V: Look. This is so pretty. Give it to your girlfriend.
J: My girlfriend will be mad that I spend so much money.
V: No. Your girlfriend will be happy you spent so much on her.
J: You are right. But I will think I’m dumb for spending so much money. [on-lookers are chuckling]
V: You think too much. Just buy it.
J: What material is this made out of?
V: Silk and [something]
J: What is [something]?
V: Uh…its [something]?
J: Is [something] and animal or a plant?
V: Uh… [something] is not an animal!
J: So is [something] man-made or from a plant?
V: What do you mean man-made? All fabric is made with machines!
J: OK. Look. I’ll give you 60 kuai.
V: Come on.
J: OK. Bye bye
V: Friend. Come here. I’ll give you for 130.
J: 90. And that’s it.
J: Bye bye.
V: OK 90. 90.
J [in English and Japanese ] Ma, you like this? I got the price to 90.
J: Its silk and [something]. I don’t know what [something] is.
Mom: No. Too expensive. Not want.
J [to vendor]: Sorry. My girlfriend does not want it. [crowd is no laughing hysterically when they see me point to Mom and call her my girlfriend]
V: Hey! I sell it to you for 90!
J: But my girlfriend does not want it. Sorry.
V: Fudging Yankee! You talk all day long and don’t buy! Your killing me you fudger.
J: Nice talking with you. See you later.
V: [mutters obscenities]
Wednesday night we had Mexican food. The parents were impressed. Then we went to see the Shanghai acrobatic troop. Which was fun.
Thursday: Jesse’s special omelets for breakfast. Everyone was very impressed. Didn’t do much during the day. Went out to a restaurant called “Little South Country” at night. At Crystal shrimp, which is good. Mom had Shark fin soup, which is the most overrated Chinese food there is.
Friday: XinJiang Muslim food for Brunch. They were very impressed. Went back to Nanjng road to pick up some more presents. Also so a Buddhist temple. I’m not impressed by temples. Chinese people go to temples and pretend to pray because they think its funny. I don’t think its funny. There was a big Jade effeminate Buhda statue at the temple. I told the statue that I don’t think it represents the spirit of Buddhism. The statue didn’t say anything to me, but I think the spirit in the statue agrees with my opinion.
Saturday: Dim-sum for brunch. Pretty good, but I had better in America. Shanghai people don’t like Cantonese Dim-Sum that much, so there are few Dim-Sum restaurants here. We later went to antique market bought some good stuff. Korean food for dinner. They were somewhat impressed.
Sunday: Breakfast was Egg-pancake and BaoZi. They were very impressed. Mom said I made their trip great and I am a good tour leader, especially good at the task of picking out good restaurants.