t
o
n
y
a
n
g
'
s
 
w
e
b
l
o
g


i slept well but woke up early on the account that my bed is right next to a corner window, nature's alarm clock. i went to bed last night with the flash of thunder and the patter of rain falling on shanghai. this morning the weather was back to normal, a mixture of clouds and some blue sky. i was in a bit of a bind because my shanghai cousin only booked me for 3 nights and today i was due to check out. last night he said he'd get in touch with my this morning but in the meantime i made use of my time.

after a shower, i went downstairs for breakfast around 8:00. while everyone else was eating chinese, i went western with an omelette, some toast, a yogurt, and an orange juice (orange drink more like it). i browsed one of the downloaded issues of entertainment weekly while i ate. afterwards i went back upstairs to have a quick chat with my parents via skype.

i called my cousin after 10:00 when i still didn't hear back from him. he whispered he was in a meeting and would call me back afterwards. around 10:30 housekeeping knocked on my door. she said she could come back, i told her no bother and decided to wait downstairs. i asked her if she'd been cleaning up my room for the past few days. she said yes, and that i keep the place pretty clean already. i thanked her and left.

i waited downstairs in the lobby for about an hour. i overheard a lot of english conversation, all business related. there was a young chinese man speaking with an indian man in between awkward pauses. the indian man apparently owned 2 factories with 253 employees. i wasn't sure exactly the nature of his business. he also has 3 daughter, while the chinese man said he only had one child. after they left, 2 chinese women and a chinese man came in. they met with a young chinese man in a tailored suit, who greeted the other man in perfect american english. i was intrigued by their business but they left before i could eavesdrop some more.

finally i decided i waited long enough and went to the front desk to ask if i could extend my stay, except the room wasn't billed on my name, and i was still waiting for my cousin to come and take care of it. the concierge called the company, which authorized the additional stay. they reswiped my card and that was that. had i known it was this easy, i would've done it early. now it was almost noontime, and i didn't have enough time to go out and explore since an tao would be coming in the afternoon (3:00).

i went back upstairs. my cousin finally called around 12:00, he said i could just simply tell the front desk i wanted to extend my stay, and i told him that was exactly what i did. since it didn't seem like i'd be going out, i decided to buy my plane ticket to chongqing now that i've decided to leave shanghai on friday. i tried two online chinese ticket booking services: ctrip.com and elong.com. both have english versions (otherwise i'd be lost). i signed up for both to compare the 2. elong has a partnership with expedia, which makes me trust it a little bit more. after taxes and fees, the final cost of the ticket is around $130, which the company will reimburse me provided i have a receipt. both sites will accept international non-chinese credit cards (like visa) but there's a 3% fee which is just a few dollars. they also accept paypal.

unfortunately i couldn't get either site to work. when i went to pay with ctrip, it got stuck after the payment page. i got just as far with elong, except it told me there was an error and asked me to call a toll-free number. i ended up calling elong, figuring they'd have english-speaking operators. they did, but i ended up speaking chinese, and winging the parts i couldn't really quite understand. the young woman was very helpful in that friendly chirpy chinese service sort of way. she told me the problem might be a computer operating system issue (makes since, since i'm running OSX on a PC). she already had all my information (i guess through my phone number) and went ahead and processed the order without me having to resubmit my credit card info. afterwards she redirected me to an automated survey line asking me in chinese what i thought about the operator (i pressed 1 for very satisfied). minutes later i got a text message with the flight number and time.

it was already an hour later and i felt hungry enough to go outside and find a place to have lunch. it was 100F outside. i say that nonchalantly, because i've kind of grown jaded to the heat. maybe it was my mind playing tricks on me, but it actually didn't feel that bad. perhaps my body just wasn't processing the extreme temperature change quick enough. sure it was hot, but it also felt like a dry heat. dry heat i can handle. i began walking. what i thought was another great little noodle place turned out to be something else entirely (wok restaurant?). i kept walking, thinking once i turned the corner i'd start seeing restaurants again. what followed was a long stretch of residential area. i lasted about 10 minutes before i began to sweat. the unbearableness began slowly at first, but growing steadily worse the longer i stayed in the sun. i tried walking in the shade as much as possible, which only provided a small bit of relief.

i ended up circling the block and finding nothing, returning to the place where i had the noodles yesterday. nearby was a beef noodle shop. i ordered the red roasted beef noodle for RMB$12 (US$2). i brought along an english newspaper to read. maybe my expectations for a US$2 bowl of noodles was too high. there was plenty of noodles, but the beef felt like just a sprinkle, and very tough beef at that, almost jerky like. i ate readily though, too hungry to complain too much.

after lunch, i walked back to the hotel, first getting a drink at the family mart. i stripped out of my already damp clothes and took a shower. while i was in the bathroom an tao called me. i was afraid he'd already arrived, but he was just calling to let me know there's a huge traffic jam and they won't get to my place until later.