Luckily, the kindness of a relative stranger, though she's a Hoosier, so not really, helped me out a bunch. A friend of a friend lives in Ho Chi Minh City, and she was my safe refuge during my 16-hour lay over in HCMC before my flight to Shanghai left.
She took me for a legitimate massage (no full frontal rub downs this time), to a dim sum lunch with her husband and friends and to the market. Best of all, when I was tired, she grabbed a pillow, threw it on the couch and let me sleep while watching American TV via a Slingbox, which is now my must-have item for China. Staying busy and meeting someone new helped take my mind off my loss, and not dwell on it too much. Thanks, Jess!
But, it has been about three weeks since I've seen Nick, and I missed him a ton. I was eager to see what my new life in Shanghai would be like.
Our apartment is small compared to our 4-bedroom house, but it is pretty modern, clean and in a fantastic location. Our gym is just three floors down, so no excuses not to work out.
We walked around a bit yesterday and hit the Carrefour grocery - which was an experience all by itself. I was accosted by women with the lids of laundry detergent asking me to smell how nice they were; cereal costs about $12 a box; strange meats lying bare with no packaging and eggs that you don't refrigerate.
I can't wait to learn some Mandarin so that I can communicate more effectively. My two Mandarin words of "hello" (ni hao) and "thank you" (shi shi), don't get me too far.
We ventured out to the Chinese antique market and it was a little slice of heaven. I could've easily bought one of each item and been thrilled, but I have to pace myself. I was negotiating for a gorgeous small piece of jade when Nick interrupted and paid too much for it. I'll be back there for sure, and plan on getting some Christmas gifts there, too.
We also happened upon the Bird and Flower market -- we were the only Westerners we saw. Beautiful birds were in cages, as well as hundreds and hundreds of singing grasshoppers, which I suppose are kept as pets. I need to research it, but I believe they are considered good luck. They were the coolest and largest grasshoppers I've ever seen.
There were also rabbits, a few kittens, flying squirrels, chinchillas and some other unique and exotic pets for sale (we hope as pets and not as dinner).
And, the maggots. Maggots everywhere to feet said birds (and maybe the grasshoppers eat them, too). People crowded the aisles, smoking and spitting everywhere. It was a true Shanghai experience.
I have more to write on my Vietnam experience, but I will save that for tomorrow. Also, should have a good story or two about my physical for my Visa which is tomorrow morning - ick!
Some of the sights of the Bird and Flower market: