Sunday, September 14th, 2008...10:22 am

Bike Rides

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This was the last weekend Christophe was in town.  Alex and I had planned to have a mellow Friday night in anticipation of his going away celebration on Saturday night.  However, being the influential person he is Christophe managed to convince us into going out for dinner.  “I guess the party is starting early” I thought to myself.

Alex, Christophe, and I headed into Amei’s bar on Tai Kang Lu for some drinks and hanging out.  Hong Mei was there and she took us to a tiny little restaurant around the corner from the bar.  We had some of the most delicious food yet!  We had a delicious tofu dish, some mushrooms & bok choy, and the strangest of all: caramelized potatoes.  They were coated in sugar, you dipped them in water before eating them to turn the molten sugar into a shell.

A delicious dinner, 吃好!

A delicious dinner, 吃好!

After dinner Alex was feeling a little sick so he ducked into a cab and headed home.  Christophe and I decided to make a pit stop at the street food vendor.

We headed over to Hefei Lu & Shunchang Lu.  The regular crowd was around.  Jenny, a friend of Christophe’s who speaks English well met up with us.  It was good to have her around this time to be able to mediate the conversation.  I find that I am picking up the language better when I have someone to translate. Otherwise I have no way of associating the Mandarin words I am hearing with meanings.

Tonight there were plenty of distractions on the corner.  A little girl was having fun exchanging culture with us.  We were teaching her the game where two people hold their palms together horizontally and the person on top tries to pull away before getting slapped on the knuckles.  She taught us a game where you point at your nose and the other person announces facial features in Chinese and you are required to quickly point at them.  It was a good way to learn words even for adults!

Alex and I were still planning to ride bikes around the city tomorrow so I struck up a conversation with the Bike Rental lady.  She was thrilled to have us as customers, but made very sure that she had communicated with us when and where to meet.  I got her phone number before we headed out.

Saturday morning Alex and I woke up and immediately set out on our mission to get the bike. He hopped on the back and we pedaled to the street corner.  People riding tandem on bicycles is completely common place here, however the fact that we are foreigners definitely catches people’s attention.  Everyone is quite amused as we speed by.

We got to the street corner and waited a bit.  After exchanging a few text messages the lady showed up and took us to the rental shop.  The shop was really nice inside and all the bikes looked new.  The clerk at the shop spoke great English and we chatted with him as we signed the paper work and paid the deposit.  He had moved out with his friend from Malaysia to start this business.  They had only been open three days and we found out we were their first customer.  Apparently they are very few places to officially rent bikes in  Shanghai.

We left on our adventure.  We went everywhere!  Traveling by bike in Shanghai is the best way I can think to experience the city.  There are so many quick and adjacent distractions, sites, people, buildings and stores that you can take in when you are lazily pedaling along.  With the skyline and a keen sense of direction as your guide it is hard to get lost.  We biked for a few hours until it started raining.  We ducked into a restaurant and watched the down poor over lunch.

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