Foreign travel seems to beget more foreign travel. One of the reasons I came to China at all is because one my friends from the Bucerius program was from Shanghai, and so today I visited her.
We agreed to meet at 10am in front of the KFC at the Ruffles Shopping Center. I got there in plenty of time but still managed to be late because it turns out I was waiting in front of the wrong KFC. The shopping center around the corner also had one, you see. In fact, there are a ton of American fast food outlets all over Shanghai. Mostly McDonalds and KFC, and every 500 feet or so... plus lots of Starbucks, at least one Burger King and word has it that Dairy Queen has also recently arrived.
Once our paths finally crossed we went over to the Shanghai Museum where we saw all the exhibits, including one on Assyria on loan from the British Museum. Unfortunately the exhibit on coins was closed, which was too bad because I'd been watching episode 4 of a documentary on Chinese coins in the hotel and I was looking forward to learning what I'd missed in episodes 1-3...
Then we went to some sort of noodle soup restaurant. They bring you out a big bowl of hot broth, a separate bowl of noodles, and a tray of 12 small bowls filled with ingredients for you to thrown in (e.g., sprouts, chicken, Chinese sausage, mushrooms, bamboo, a tiny egg, etc.) After that we went to the Old City, which I didn't really like since (a) it was a recreation and not original, and (b) it was kind of a tourist trap. We did go to the garden that they've recreated there, which, though still too crowded, offered some respite from the heat and tumult on the streets.
Our next mission was to find a nice piece of cake at one of the patisseries all over Shanghai. We found one at the Ruffles Center, but there was no place to sit there nor anything to drink, so we went to a Starbucks for a frappuccino and a seat to go along with our cake.
By then we'd run out of steam so we went back to her apartment where her parents were eager to meet me. Unfortunately I was pretty tired and not my usual charming, boisterous self and thus unable to fully enjoy the enormous dinner they cooked. There were plates of goose meat, shrimp, clams, fish, edamame (not called that there), cucumber, bamboo, lotus and meat pancakes, some sort of river fish of undetermined English name (though my money is on freshwater eel), mushrooms, some sort of melon soup, two kinds of sesame dumpling-like desserts, watermelon slices, enormous grapes, and some sort of cold bean-barley soup. There's also the possibility I'm forgetting something... I did the best I could, but I still ended up getting teased for being a light eater.
Eventually it was time for me to leave and go back to my hotel. But it was a really nice day and nice to spend time with my friend. It was weird in a way, because here I was half a world away from anywhere I might belong, but hanging out with my friend it was almost hard to tell because we have law school in common. Yeah, sure, her career path in China will be different than mine, but not all that different considering that she gets her internships with the same American firms that my American friends work at in the US. Plus we have the Bucerius program between us, something that stood apart from the rest of our home law school experiences anyway. It's interesting the way the law becomes a unifying force, and I think it's probably good.
Written 8/6, posted 8/7