Monday, February 1, 2010

On Cloud Nine

As many of your know, I am afraid of heights.  And, typically, my acrophobic tendencies don't allow me to go more than a couple of stories before my toes start to curl and my heart starts to palpitate.  Well, I blew that all to heck on Friday night.  Some friends invited us to dinner with them on the "other" side of Shanghai (there are two sides to Shanghai separated by the Huangpu River - Puxi and Pudong.  We live in Puxi.)  Pudong is the side of the river that has some of the iconic images of the Pearl Tower, and some massively tall buildings. 

We arrived early for our dinner which was on the 56th floor, but we decided to go up to have a drink at the bar, Cloud Nine, on the 87th floor.  And, I needed that drink after being up so high.  I think it helped that it was dark out, but I still felt a little vertigo and I don't think it was from the ginger gimlet I was drinking.

Still, the views were incredible, and I only wished they put non-reflective glass in the windows for my pictures.

Today, my negotiating skills were once again put to the test at an amazing antique market down in Old Town.  They had some beautiful pieces of jade, bronzes, pottery and other trinkets, but our experience was somewhat marred by a lot of smoking in the building, even though there were non-smoking signs all over the place.  And, the building was like a class system.  The first floor sellers had their wares in permanent stalls, the second and third floors were a combination of stalls and tables with items and the fourth floor people laid out their goods on a towel or blanket.

And, the constant sound of people coughing up phlegm.  One guy even did it practically in my face.  I couldn't have been more than a foot from him and he hocked up a loogie unphased that I was standing so close.

I finally got to go in a Everything's 2RMB shop, too.  And, there is a reason everything's only $0.30 - it's all crap.  I mean, how many backscratchers does one need anyway?

My Chinese has gotten fairly good, and that helps with the negotiating - they don't just automatically see me as a laowai (foreigner) here on vacation when I start asking for prices in Chinese.  I negotiated a few things at more than 40 percent off; I've heard that 30 percent is typical.  Wermeister genes, activated.

And, to top off the weekend, Nick and I met our new cat.   He is a darling orange tabby with rust stripes.  We're still thinking up a cute Chinese name for him (we wanted to call him Chairman Meow, but it doesn't roll off the tongue very well).  We will pick him up from his foster home once we get back from vacation in a couple of weeks.  It was love at first purr.  Can't wait to get him!

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