2007/11/11

I was taken by a UFO

Wherein I try to remember what happened in Shanghai on 30 September. Once again, some photos by D and some by me.

You might remember that on Saturday evening, D discovered that her Zen MP3 player had been stolen. Thinking that our insurance just might cover it, and that insurance companies tend to like documentation for claims, we stopped by the hotel’s front desk and spoke to the manager about reporting the theft to the police. Although it took a while for her to understand what we wanted, she eventually assigned a purser to walk with us the two blocks to the local police station.

It was down a little side alley off Nanjing Road. It’s amazing how quickly the upscale glitz turns to piles of cardboard and lines of scrappy bikes. Lots of scooters too. Instead of going in the main entrance of the police station, our guide took us down a grubby stairway to the basement. He said he knew the officer in charge, so we didn’t have to wait in line with the general public. We went into a little cement office where there were two rickety desks, some folding chairs, and a bare light bulb for illumination. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating, but not by much – and perhaps my mind is filling in some details I don’t remember clearly.

Again, it took a little while to get our wishes across – the officer spoke almost no English – but he seemed to accept that an American insurance company might like something in writing. And it took a little while longer to figure out what form was appropriate and how it should be filled out. I ended up taking the standard Chinese form and just writing in my own words in English what happened, being careful to include such things as the estimated value and the time and place of the incident as near as I could guess.

Then we went upstairs and waited in the lobby while the officer got the document registered and stamped and whatever they do. Official paper in hand, we returned to the hotel and thanked the purser for all his assistance. Hope he wasn’t too disappointed that we didn’t tip him – but I’ve gotten so used to not tipping here, that I didn’t want to set a precedent.

After that little adventure, we had a good portion of the day to kill before it was time to head to the stadium for the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. We consulted a map and saw a temple near a subway station, so off we went.

The Shanghai Metro is mostly nicer than the subways in Beijing, in part because it’s simply newer. The tracks are above ground in many places.
The temple we visited is called Jing’an, and one thing sets it completely apart from the other temples I’ve visited in China. It’s new.
In fact, it’s still under construction, being built by a local religious organization. The piles of building materials don’t discourage worshippers, however. We saw many people of all ages paying their respects.
We wandered around for a while, fascinated by the setting. In China, you just get used to such things being old, not alive.
There’s also the setting. Seeing this in the middle of a bustling commercial dynamo like Shanghai makes for some pretty stark contrasts.
And also, given how shoddy most current Chinese construction is, it’s nice to see workers taking real care about their craft.
Though I suppose it’s possible some pieces, like the wood carvings, could have been salvaged from older structures.

Anyway, there you go. A temple in Shanghai that doesn’t show up in the tourist guides.

When we left the temple, we decided to wander around the neighborhood a bit to see a part of town other than Nanjing Road and the Bund.
As part of their financing for the construction, the temple rents out the ground floor of their outer walls for shops.
We saw this restaurant. Its name is translated as Fishiness Infinitude. Um, OK.
This is a typical scene.
Eventually we made a circle and came around the opposite side of the temple, where there was a shopping center having a sidewalk sale.
This was a nifty bit of public art along the same sidewalk. It was originally part of a set of statues.
But his companion has been overwhelmed by the economic boom.

Eventually it got to be time to head for the stadium. Sunday afternoon turned out to be a hideously busy time on the trains. We were crammed up against each other along with a lot of people obviously going the same place plus a lot just going wherever Shanghai people go on Sunday afternoons.
Luckily, the Metro station is right there, attached to the stadium by a raised walkway. But the trip had been so crowded and uncomfortable that D said, “We’re taking a taxi when we leave.” I didn’t argue.

A few days earlier, back in Beijing, we had watched in stunned amazement as Brazil embarrassed the American women in a big way. National pride aside, it was a wonderful performance by an underdog team of charismatic players, and the stodgy Americans didn’t stand a chance, even aside from some questionable personnel choices. Sure, Briana Scurry was less than stellar in goal, but honestly I don’t think Hope Solo’s presence would have changed the outcome. The South Americans had the North Americans beat at every single position.

That defeat set up the matches we saw in Shanghai, with the US playing Norway for third place, and Brazil taking on reigning champs Germany for the trophy.

You might remember in my description of the previous game we saw, that they had a lot of security, with at least three guys per section. Check this out:
Every single seat in the first row of the lower level was occupied by a security guard. It was a ring of white polo shirts all the way around with the exception of the VIP section behind the benches. I guess they didn’t want any trouble.
Of course, the US didn’t have much trouble with Norway. Here’s one of our goals about to go into the net. By the end of it, we felt sorry for the Scandinavians, and were kind of happy they managed to score at least once.
After it was over, we even saw Briana and Hope hug each other. Aw, ain’t that sweet?

As for the first place match, we were definitely caught up in the wave of enthusiasm for the Brazilian team. It had been really something to watch them on TV, and we would have dearly loved to see them give Germany the same treatment they had given us.
But alas, the Germany vs. Brazil match was basically a story of missed opportunities for Brazil. This is perhaps the worst of them.

Our section was populated mostly with Germans, who were quite obnoxiously enjoying their team’s success. In the second half my BlueBerry buzzed with an incoming email. It was from JW:

From: JW (China)
To: JD (China)
Sent: Sun Sep 30 06:46:05 2007
Subject: We just saw you

We just saw you on tv behind the happy Germans.

Hope you are having fun.

I replied:

From: JD (China)
To: JW (China)
Sent: Sun Sep 30 06:47:04 2007
Subject: Re: We just saw you

We'd be having more fun if brasil was ahead!
--------------------------
Sent from my BlueBerry Wireless Handheld

As soon as the game was over, they started building a stage out on the field for the trophy ceremony. We had no desire to see the Germans get all smug and even more unbearable, so we snuck out, hoping to have an easier time finding a taxi.

After a pretty wild ride where the driver tried to avoid the traffic jams on the main streets, we ended up back at the hotel. It was getting late, but we didn’t feel like retiring yet – and we hadn’t had a proper dinner (like all Chinese venues, there was no food to speak of at the stadium). I had been wanting to see what it was like up in the UFO on top of the hotel, so we went up to the 45th floor, got off the elevator and went to the little elevator that takes you up to 47. There was a little combo (piano, upright bass, drums, and a singer) playing music on the circular stage in the middle. We took a table on the second level so we could see out the windows better. We got there just before they closed the kitchen, so we picked a selection of expensive appetizers to go with our drinks.

I seem to remember as we were sitting there listening to the music that it would make a humorous blog entry to describe what they played and how they sounded, but right now I’m drawing a blank. I’ll have to consult my offboard memory (aka D) for some hints to jog something loose and post later about that.

1 comment:

  1. I seem to recall Richard Marx.

    MSFYG

    ReplyDelete