Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shanghai - Day One Part Two

 Shanghai is a city of great contrast, This view is across the Huangpu River which is the most important shipping artery of Shanghai. In Shanghai, the Huangpu River cruise starting from the Bund is a traditional tourist program. You can see the tour boats cruising down the river both day and night. 
 Dinner began with appetizers on our first night in Shanghai at a Restaurant on the Bund which turned out to be a terrible choice!  When our assortment of appetizers were served, one was an octopus based little square.  Now, I usually like octopus and squid, so I cut off a little piece and put into my mouth...Big Mistake!  It was the most horrible tasting thing I had ever experienced!  I didn't want to be rude and spit it out, so I immediately swallowed it whole!  Charles was watching my expression, and asked what was wrong.  It told him that it tasted just terrible, so he decided to try a small piece and see what I was talking about....his reaction was swift and just like mine!  YUK!  When I asked him what he felt about it he stated it "tasted like low tide!"  Yep, perfect description.  At that point we cancelled our entrees and went elsewhere for dinner (Mr. and Mrs. Bund was wonderful!)

Next day we all went to a lovely Szechuan restaurant for lunch where we had some amazing spicy food...Szechuan Shrimp which "sparkled" with heat on your tongue like pop rocks in your mouth....Ribs that were so delicious, you wanted to over-indulge.
 We had a wonderful time sharing this meal with Zev,
Jolin, Charles and Jon.  As you can see, we had a huge assortment of different items, and all of these were delicious!  I discovered a new vegetable item called "morning glory" which I had never had.  It isn't available in the United States, but I sure wish it was! YUM!

Following our amazing lunch experience, Jolin took Melanie and I for a total body massage at a local Chinese massage parlor.  The prices for a massage in China are amazingly cheap!  An hour long massage is only about $15 US Dollars!  Wow!  So, when asked if we wanted a half hour or hour massage, we decided upon the one hour option with an aroma therapy oil.  Sounded great, but things didn't quite go as we had expected.
First blip on the radar was the fact that they put Melanie and I in the same room...more like you would expect for a "couples massage."  Hmmmmm...okay, so we got undressed and lay face down on our massage tables face down.  The massage began and our two little Chinese massage therapists worked us over pretty good, with deep massage over our entire body.  Then, about half way through the hour the ladies told us to "turn over."  I thought to myself "I guess they are going to massage the front of my legs and arms."  So, I obediently rolled over and adjusted my cover.  Then, before I could realize what was happening I found the lady massaging my BOOBS!!!!  Melanie got so tickled, she had to leave the room...I was horrified, but didn't quite know what to say, and besides that the ladies didn't speak enough English to explain that I wasn't really interested in a boobie massage!  Then, when I was horrified enough, in walks Jolin our guide and she proceeds to sit down and wait!  OMG!!  There I was in my altogether, getting my boobies massaged as she watched!  I found out later than Chinese women think if you massage the breasts, they get larger!  My oh My!  Caution is required when you get a massage in a foreign Country!  It was good for a lot of laughs however, and we did feel relaxed afterward.

 Next we were off to the Bund for some picture taking.  We would be leaving for Thailand that night, and I wanted to be sure to get some pictures of the area before we left town.  The lovely flower wall behind us runs along the river and there is an elevated viewing area behind it where you look across the river to the thriving and new Financial District of Shanghai!  It is an amazing view!

And quite a contrast to the side of the river on which we were standing at the flower wall.  The older side of the River was originally part of the French Concession which held this area from 1849 to 1946, and the architectural and cultural influence is very obvious.  This was also the center of Catholicism in Shanghai during that period.  This was an amazing day up to this point, and what happened next was about to be both horrifying and amazing!
In my rush to get out of the cab on the French side of the river, I had apparently left my purse which contained, among other things, my passport!  It was about 3:30 or 4:00 when I realized that I did not have it in hand.  I did realize that the last time I remembered having it was in the cab, but none of the three of us could remember what cab company or even the color of the cab from which we had exited!  Jolin, immediately contacted the Shanghai Police and within minutes they were on the scene.  They were wonderful, an explained that cameras positioned in the area would be able to pinpoint the cab from which we had exited.  However, time was against us, and I was just sick over having left the purse behind.  A Paddy Wagon rolled up and we were all escorted into the back of it for a ride to the Police Station.  I have to wonder what people were thinking as they saw two Americans and a Chinese climb into the Paddy Wagon!  Not funny at the time, but looking back, a funny experience.  The police were wonderful, and Charles was in contact with the Consulate attempting to find out what we could do to get me to Thailand and back.  It was going to be a nightmare!  No one thought we would be able to recover the passport in time for me to leave that evening.

After filling out the police report, we were headed for the Consulate to see if I could obtain a temporary visa.  The traffic was awful and we needed to be there before 5 PM...things were not looking good.  I had a thought about looking through the pictures we had taken in the area to try and see when I had my green purse last.  While the pictures did confirm that I had left the purse in the cab, one amazing thing came about as a result.  While snapping pictures from within the cab, we had captured one shot which showed the registration number of the Cab Driver!  Hope sprang up!  Jolin began calling all the cab companies in Shanghai (and believe me, there are many in this city of 23 million people) in an attempt to locate the cab and driver we had used.  We went back to Charles' house and the search was on.  For over an hour, Jolin called one cab company after another as Melanie, Jon and Charles prepared to leave for Thailand without me.  I would follow the next day if I could resolve the passport problem.  Then, just as time was nearly out, and hope was gone, Jolin called Melanie and Charles downstairs and I thought she was going to say we would not be able to locate the missing passport.  Instead, she suddenly smiled and said - "Yay! You will all be going to Thailand together!  The purse and passport have been located and the driver is on his way here with them!"  What a miracle!!!  I was reduced to a sobbing mess as I hugged Jolin, thanked her profusely and took a treasured necklace from around my neck and placed it on hers.  I will never forget that moment.
When the Cab Driver appeared, the entire contents of my purse were intact except for my iPhone.  At that point, the iPhone didn't matter a bit!  The amazing thing was, that $400 USA, credit cards and the passport were all there.  We all celebrated profusely before heading to the airport that night and onward to Thailand! Answered prayer is amazing!

GOD BLESS!   Peace, Love and Joy

More to come tomorrow................

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