On Visigoths, Irony, the Rich, Sex in the Rain and, of course, Shoes

Here I sit, just back from Shanghai and all alone in Jiaxing while Terry is partying in Vancouver. Hope she has a great time – I will let her tell you about the Air Canada flight attendant, Scott’s failing memory and her car. I have lots of other stuff to share with you!

The Rich – or The Mercedes Versus the Guard

The other day I am sitting at my desk and I see a semi-regular pull in to the “parking lot”. It is, truth be told, actually part of the mall access and buses drive through at the top of each hour. In the background of picture one you can see the traffic cones which are supposed to keep traffic out – but there is usually a big enough gap to drive through, just as she did.

The Mercedes vs the Guard

The Mercedes vs the Guard

Now usually, no one pays any attention to these people, but on this particular day there was a guard there (not sure what they are actually supposed to do) who decided no, the Mercedes was not to park there. In picture one you see him pointing down the mall – where the buses come from. In picture two you see her open the door and start to get in. At this point I turned away to do some work and suddenly, she was inside Starbucks waiting to get her coffee. I then look outside, her car is still in the same place and the guard is casually meandering back to where the cones are and he very carefully arranges them so that she can’t drive out.

Pictures 3 and 4 tell the next part of the story. Not sure who won, since after she left, he had to put them back again, but at least he did his job – whatever that may be.

Sex in the Rain or Two Days in Shanghai Alone

We went in to Shanghai on Friday so Terry could catch her plane home. After much discussion and delay in getting our tickets, we were greeted with this fine specimen of a man on the platform. Sadly, this is a very common sight in China – it is how men keep their slightly protruding bellies cool.

Stylin'!  And damn proud of it, apparently.

Stylin’! And damn proud of it, apparently.

15 seconds before I took this photo on the subway, I had been sitting in that very seat next to Terry. We got up, turned around, he sat down and was GONE.

Sweet Dreams, my tired friend.

Sweet Dreams, my tired friend.

We shopped for more underwear, lunched at Marks and Spencer and then off she went. I checked in to the hotel just in time as the skies opened, the lightning and thunder boomed – for almost four hours this continued, (Ed. note: Terry’s plane sat on the tarmac for just over an hour waiting until there was a break). How wet was it? I waited from 4pm until 6pm for it to slow enough that I could, with an umbrella, go out. When I went out, the water was up to the curb of Nanjing Road – think Granville St. Below are some photos of my walk. (Ed. note: Good luck!)


For dinner, I went to a small cafe called Bonne Cafe. The directions were that it was in a small lane behind a major hotel. After much searching I found it – in the middle of a run down residential apartment block. The food was absolutely fantastic. Started with smoked salmon with a dijon mustard then a 10 oz. beef tenderloin that melted in my mouth, mushed potatoes (yes “mushed”) and fabulous zuchini, eggplant and broccoli topped off with the best tiramisu I have ever had. All that for $50.00 plus the wine. Amazing! The next night went back – Carpaccio with truffle sauce, pasta with olive oil and garlic with 5 giant (and I mean GIANT) prawns and a chocolate brownie – again less than $45. (Ed. note: yes yes, plus the wine.)

(Ed. note: Sex is harder to sell in the rain. On Friday walking back to the hotel in the rain I was offered sex by 8 – 10 different individuals. On Saturday a beautiful, balmy evening at almost the exact same time, not one offer.)

The Return of the Visigoths or We are not moving unless we pillage you

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early – 6:15. Apparently that’s when they decided to make this hole in the building next to the hotel. (It wasn’t there the night before in the storm).

"Well, we got the hole, now what?"

“Well, we got the hole, now what?”

After two hours of listening to pounding and tens of 4’x8′ sheets of  1″ thick metal being dropped from the 30th floor (Ed. note: well, that’s what it sounded like) I decided to reward myself with breakfast at Mr. Pancake (Ed. note: previously reviewed in this space.) On the way I saw this booth:

Really? In China? There are more obese people in Vancouver than there are in all of China.

Really? In China? There are more obese people in Port Coquitlam than there are in all of China.

Anyway later Saturday I met up with Greg, Chan and Mama (Chan’s mother) at a wine tasting, put on by the couple who supply our wine. They had over 100 different wines (Ed.note: not a Chinese wine in the bunch) to sample (no charge, no obligation) and they were doing it from 2 until 6 on both Saturday and Sunday. I will say that I do not know what this would have cost them, but it would have likely financially broken them if they tried it in Vancouver. I did my best to ensure that I gave all of the wines a try, but, sadly, I fell far short. I did, however, make up for my limited capacity by buying enough to get me by until Terry returns. (Ha ha ha ha). Then it became the search for the Visigoth – whoops taxi driver. As we left the wine tasting, I noticed two very long lines of trucks and cars parked down both sides of the street (for about 6 blocks), just sitting there with the drivers on the sides of the road. Now I am not saying this is a common occurrence in China, but neither is it the first time I have seen it. I believe it is a demonstration of public displeasure with something or other. No problem, except that it seems that all of the drivers must be cab drivers in another life, as any cabs I saw in the next half hour, were full. Now remember, there are 750,000 cabs in Shanghai – how could they all be full, just when I wanted one? Finally an empty one stopped and asked where I wanted to go “Jing’an Temple” I say “150 yuan” he says. I laugh and walk on. It would normally be about 30 yuan. Clearly they were out to rape and pillage those of us who really needed a cab. Damn Visigoths.

Irony or It is a Good Thing Terry is in Vancouver

We come now to today and my return to Jiaxing. There I am, minding my own business in line at the train station waiting patiently to get my ticket. Now everything I am about to tell you actually happened just this way, I swear to God. As we slowly move forward in the line I am looking around and I see a woman (30ish) standing between my line and the one next to me, but in neither. Eventually, she gets on her phone and calls her friend to come, which she does. They get to the front and guess what, she pushes in front of the guy about to get his ticket. The ticket seller even looks at her and shakes her head no and deals with the guy. Once he’s done, she shoves in again – I (sorry Terry) tap her on the shoulder and say No and point to the back of the line. She starts speaking loudly at me, but I just say No and point. People are looking – she turns around and shoves her money through the slot and the seller finally gives her the tickets and off she and her friend go. Damn! Now, before all THIS happened I noticed that a woman of about fifty had stepped in front to the 15 year old girl right behind me. As we edge to the front, I plan my strategy. Just as I get my ticket and change, I turn to block out the woman and signal the young girl to step ahead. The old woman is cagy though and as I look to my left she shoves her money over my right shoulder (Bannister and Landy come to mind). But (unlike Landy) I see this and quick as a flash my hand grabs her wrist (gently, Terry, gently) and prevent her from putting her money down. The ticket seller gives me a huge smile and as I turn to leave the people behind be are all smiling and nodding at me. I am a folk hero! I realize that when people do it it is because they need to be on a train soon – but then so do the rest of us. I don’t know how many people a day travel through the Hongqiao train station but I know this scene is frequently played out. Now, you are all wondering about the Irony subtitle. Well, how about this – guess who is sitting in the two seats on the train back to Jiaxing in front of me? Right – the girls! Guess who is sitting in the seats behind me? Right the older woman and her husband who must have hawked up half a lung between Shanghai and Jiaxing. Luckily for me (and maybe him) they were behind AND across the aisle AND they all got on the train after me!!!

Shoes or Hey, I’m Human Too!

And here is this posting’s entry in the Shoes of China. Once again, we go back to Starbucks. This young lady was in, got her coffee and then proceeded to walk up and down outside on the cobblestones on her phone for about 20 minutes. Then she disappeared for a half hour or so and suddenly she was back inside at a table. However, she had changed the shoes for a pair of pink flipflops! Look carefully at her feet as she leaves and walks across the parking area. I cracked up!

Look Very Carefully.

Look Very Carefully.

Until next time folks, stay well.

1 thought on “On Visigoths, Irony, the Rich, Sex in the Rain and, of course, Shoes

  1. mary thomas

    Ahem… speaking about women drivers. Al and I are strolling along doing the Terry Fox Walk this morning when a taxi cab pulls up right close and too personal close to moi. Like should there be any traffic even on this route ??? Do the vehicles NOT see all the red cones on the road ????? This taxi driver is inching forward through the crowd trying to weave its way through to clearer roads and at this point, I am getting a tad annoyed as how “budging” he is getting not to mention he is infringing on my walking space !!! When lo and behold, the tinted rear window rolls down and we hear this female voice calling out…Hey Al, Hey Mare !!! And who should it be but your having too much fun partying the night before wife and son !!! Talk about a small world. Anyways, it was a great and such a surprise to see her !!! She looks terrific and not like she is missing you at all !!!!! In my mind, and using my inside voice,I am thinking I bet taxi driver is of Asian nationality as it reminded me of Shanghai taxi driver..so pushy and well, you know how it goes. Cheerio and enjoy all the challenges of Jiaxing until she returns !!!!!! P.s …. could not see what shoes Terry was wearing !!!! Mare


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