Laowai in Shanghai (III): Rainy Day Adventures

除了手机和食品以外我也去忧衣酷(UNIQLO)买睡衣裤 。哈哈!
My first day exploring Shanghai was an exhausting one: I hadn’t realized just how jetlagged I was until I finally passed out at around noon to be woken by housekeeping at 1:45PM and conked out again around 5PM only to wake up at 8:30PM. That’s not to say I didn’t get the best of the day–mostly because there wasn’t really a “best.” It was pouring rain the entire day, and I mean pouring. I had to use a hair dryer to dry out the two pairs of sneakers I’d soaked on my three big walks around Lujiazui (the financial district) and along Nanjing lu (a main road that, heading east, will get you right on the water and along the Bund).
I had a particularly amusing time exploring the two places I’d anticipated to find imported gluten-free groceries. They were a bit of a fail, for the most part, but since there’s plenty of bagged rice, corn grits, millet, and whatnot, I’m safe on the food front (though it’s unfortunate that the awesome-looking 10-grain rice blend and cereal drinks have barley in them–they look delicious). Going in search of the markets also led me to two awesome malls, one in the International Financial Center (IFC) and the other at the Shanghai Centre, where the Portman Ritz Carlton is located (as opposed to the other Ritz in the IFC, of all places). The only thing I bought today in the way of bone fide personal shopping, however, was pajamas. Everything else was about stocking my kitchenette.
The other main adventure of the day was trying to obtain a Chinese mobile phone to be in touch with all the people I’ll have to see for Harvard. I started off at a China Unicom store, where they tried to sell me a 900RMB touch screen, domestic brand phone (about 146USD). I asked for their cheapest phone–now try to imagine how much the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy cost! Since my service apartment concierge recommended I go to China Mobile but I expected China Mobile to offer me a product equally expensive as China Unicom’s, on my second rainy walk I decided to duck into the Royal Meridian hotel and ask for help. The gentleman at reception wrote down the name of a small electronics market that I could reach by taking a right out the door, a left by the police station, and another left down the road (directions that I was able to remember until the last part, at which point I started asking people on the street how to get to the place written down on my waterlogged scrap of paper). Eventually, I got there–a small, dingy mall with at least sixteen cell phone vendors, all selling similar products. I took a chance on one down on the far left that had a mewing cat named Dandan and two ladies who didn’t seem hard-sell. That said, knowing about the fake electronics culture in China, I made one of the salesladies call the store with my new phone, just to make sure it worked. And now, I am the proud owner of a Nokia that looks like the first phone I ever had in 2002!