Yesterday was my first whole day in Shanghai, and it was awesome. After showing late the night before and crashing at John’s place, I was psyched enough about finally being here that I was still able to get up pretty early. John had a final in the morning, but after he got back from that, he showed me around the subway system a bit, and we grabbed some lunch. After that, he took me over to the Chinese Pod studio to check the place out. It was quite a bit different than I expected, but still very neat.
After that, I headed for a bank to see if there was anything I could do to solve my money problem. Since, I only use my US debit card (from Netbank) when I’m outside of Taiwan, it had been quite a while since I’d last used it. After mis-remembering my PIN, an ATM had eaten my card, and left me a bit stranded. With all the horrors I’d read about Chinese banking, I have to admit I was a bit worried. After taking a number at the bank and sitting down, I got in a conversation with a Dutch ex-pat. He seemed like a pretty affable, likable guy. Until ten minutes later when I saw him at the teller window, yelling, pounding his fist on the counter, and demanding to talk to the manager, that is. My sense of unease only grew worse; by the time my number was called, I’d mostly abandoned hope of being able to get anything done. Amazingly, though, I was able to set up an account (with only a visitor’s visa), make an electronic transfer from my American bank into my new account, and get a debit card while standing at the counter. Electronic transfers have always been time consuming and frustrating in Taiwan, and I haven’t managed to get a debit card in three years and trips to dozens of different banks. Maybe getting stuff done on the mainland, or at least in Shanghai, isn’t so troublesome as most Taiwanese people tell me it is. Other than the long waiting line, I was quite pleased with the banking.
After having access to my funds, I started to feel a lot more confident about touring around the city and did a bit of sight-seeing. Then, I went back to the Chinese Pod studio, chatted with some of the guys there a bit, and Ken took us out for beers. They were a fun group of guys, and it was a blast. I really felt some of the same start-up vibe as I did when I was in Redwood City, California six years ago.
John and I took off early to meet a couple of his friends, both of whom are impressive translators, for dinner. We went to a heavily China-fied Thai restaurant, where the waitresses make you dance with them at least once during a meal. None of us were able to escape.
Finally, after a long day of running around town, meeting neat people and seeing the city, it was time to head back to the apartment. On the way, John talked me into buying the nastiest, most vile drink I’ve ever imbibed in my short life- a $2RMB bottle of baijiu. With that in hand, I took a crack at the PS2 that had been sitting on the desk in the room I’m staying in, beckoning me ever since my arrival here. I tried out The God of War. It was a good ending to a good day.
Oh, yeah! I learned ten new Chinese characters today, entirely through osmosis and I can write all of them. Woohoo!
They are: 让,认,识,东,间,厂,号,着,对,业, and maybe 龙 and 咙.