Hits and misses in Shanghai

14 11 2009

So we’re now back after an eventful trip to Shanghai. The trip was a lot of fun, but I have two things to report that are either funny or exciting or both from yesterday.
First off, we were riding the taxi to Sun Yat-Sen’s former residence in the charming, pretty French Concession area when we pulled to a stop light. The light turned green, and we waited…and waited…and waited. So I looked over at the taxi driver and realized he was sleeping. That’s right, folks, our cab driver fell asleep at the wheel. In the middle of traffic. In one of the world’s largest cities. I tapped on the little plastic divider separating him from me so as to be sneaky about it and not embarrass him needlessly in front of Missy, and he woke with a start and continued on to the destination. How often does that happen? Anyway, the house was nice and I always find that historical stuff really interesting.
Secondly, we went to the Shanghai Acrobats show, also in the same area. We bought the tickets at the hostel, which, incidentally, is really nice and inexpensive, if you’re ever in Shanghai and don’t need a 5-star hotel. So we went to the theater, which was shuttered up right until 7, then went upstairs and took our seats on the balcony (we had the cheap seats). It was hard not to notice the fact that there was ONE Chinese person in the entire crowd – or one that wasn’t a tour guide, rather. So the show started with the guys leaping and spinning through rings, which is always a crowd-pleaser, particularly for kids. And in that first segment, there were, oh, five or six mistakes. I don’t know if any of you have seen Chinese Acrobats, but at least in the U.S., they rarely screw up at all, so it’s a little disconcerting to see them do a running leap and take out a row of rings they’re suppose to spin effortlessly through, especially when they’re going to do death-defying tricks later in the show. But hey, it was the first act, right? After that, there was a girl contorting her body in a variety of shapes, which was well-done, though the stage design wasn’t exactly gorgeous. The next few acts were also pretty good. One involved jugglers, and another had a girl spinning in a net while two guys with painted-on abs gyrated nearby.
The show came to a screeching halt, though, when this old man came out in a tux and did some card tricks. Yep, card tricks. He’d stand there and flash three or so cards in his hands – we think, since he was so small on the stage – then started juggling little bouncy balls. We think. Then he had some eggs in his coat pockets, which he switched from finger to finger. To finish that part of the show, he cracked the eggs and poured the yolk into a glass which he showed the crowd. Wow! Then for his grand finale, he pretty much just tossed everything he had used in his act into the crowd – except the eggs, of course. We came up with a good catchphrase for the show: You like acrobats? Well we have a card-thrower for you! Anyway, once he stepped off-stage, the show resumed with girls riding unicycles around, and there was a bit of slapstick involving a nervous tourist and a knife thrower. There was also one final “people nervously flying through the air” act, which of course began with a girl being flung up into the air, then almost falling to all of our horror. No one else was injured in the show, though, thankfully.
As for the rest of the night, we had a fantastic Mexican dinner, and we had some pretty decent Thai food for lunch at this trendy dinner area which was made up of rebuilt row houses from the ’30s, I guess. After the Mexican dinner, we ended up wandering around in circles looking for this club we had been told was nice, but only after an hour of walking and finally settling on a cab ride, we discovered that there was an 80 RMB show to see some British drum & bass guy, which didn’t really interest either of us. All in all, it was a fun day. -Jeremiah

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