Guest writer: Stephanie's mom
Stephanie thought it would be cool to have me (her mom) post to her blog about my trip to China with my friend Bethany. So here goes, but I probably won't be nearly as funny or entertaining as she is. And please excuse any errors, it is currently about 9PM Sunday night in Shanghai, we just landed about 3PM and I'm functioning on about 1 hours sleep in the last 60 hours.
The trip was not bad at all. Despite it being a 14 hour and 45 minute plane ride on a Continental 777, it went by quite reasonably fast. Continental now has movies, games, music and tv shows on demand for each seat, and they start even before you take off and stay on after you land. And I don't know about you, but time flies when I'm watching movies (at least 4 in fact, "Cloudy with a chance of meatballs", "Jennifer's Body", "Love Actually" and "Michael Jackson's This Is It") and playing video games.
So before we left CT, we communicated with Stephanie and she suggested that after we arrived, we bring our stuff to her apartment, hit an ATM for some Chinese cash, get massages and then have a Shanghai style dinner. Boy, just thinking about those massages kept our attitude up the entire plane ride. Bethany took a couple very quick cat naps and I didn't sleep a wink and our butts were sore after sitting so long. When we arrived, there were HUNDREDS of people (99% Chinese) waiting at the gate to meet incoming passengers, many with signs. But we were able to find Stephanie fairly quickly and after some long hugs, she boarded us on the Maglev train, which goes 431 kilometers per hour, and the total distance from the airport to her 'area' is 30 kilometers and the entire commute took about 7 minutes. We sat down, it sped up, it went REALLY fast, it slowed down and we got off, that fast.
Her apartment is really cute and very clean (I don't know why she was so worried I'd be critical, I'm a saint). After a little settling in, we headed back out fairly quickly before Bethany could fall asleep (and she was pretty close to it!!). A quick stop for some cash, some coffee, a new umbrella (it is supposed to rain every day for the next 10 days here in Shanghai, good thing we won't be here for the next 7 days) and then we went for 1 hour full-body Chinese (translation: really intense) massages. Uuuuuu baby! So good! They start at the top of the head, work down to the feet, flip you over and do your head and face, sit you up and do your shoulders. We were all practically purring and were so light headed once it was done. Of course, they work you so hard, that some 'things' (such as noises or gasses) are in danger of 'escaping' without your control, but damn it felt good! The best thing was the massage cost us each about $10!! We are definitely doing that again.
Once we were done, we were getting re-dressed (we wore special massage outfits) and one of my socks was dripping wet. It took us a few moments until we realized that when I undressed, I accidentally put my sock in the little incense or essential oil container that was on the floor in the corner. Even after squeezing it out, there was no way I could wear it and Stephanie just happened to have a spare pair with her. But the sock sure smells great!
After the massages, it was time for dinner. A short walk and we were at a great Shanghai style restaurant that Stephanie likes. She ordered us Shanghai noodles (with a little spiciness), Shanghai style eel (Bethany also requested this), a potato and green bean dish (sliced into long thin slices with a sweet sauce) and big pork dumplings. Everything was very good! But they played ONE song over and over and over again the entire time we were there, the theme song from the Titanic movie. We were ready to RUN out of there when we finally could. It also was a little intimidating to have so many waiters/waitresses hanging around. We had one guy pouring our tea and water, and another couple getting our food, writing our bill, the hostess checking on us, etc. It wasn't busy but I had a feeling you get that kind of service all the time. And Bethany is making progress learning how to use chopsticks, but I think she struggled a little due to the fact that she was overtired.
By the way, Stephanie really can speak Chinese! She actually carries on conversations with the locals. In fact, she hardly shut up during the entire massage. But I didn't mind too much, especially since the masseuses thought I was her sister. Tee hee! I'm definitely going back there soon! And she ordered at the restaurant, spoke to the taxi driver, ordered a taxi for tomorrow morning through the guard at the school and more, all in Chinese (or at least in some language that others could understand, she could be tricking me into believing it is Chinese but I think I'll believe her).
We are turning in early tonight because we are catching an early flight to Beijing in the morning. We will be spending 3 days and 3 nights there and then head to Xi'an (think: terracotta soldiers) for 2 days, 1 night. Stephanie is not bringing her laptop so there may not be an update until Friday night. We will have a great time and tell you all about it!