China letter 4 – Written in late February 2007.
I have decided that you are not truly living the Chinese culture until you hang your clothes out on your balcony to dry. So alas, I had to give in and hang my jeans and shirts outside to dry. However, I refuse to hang my underwear in public for everyone walking down the Chinese street to see. That’s where I draw the line.
The cost to build the InterContinental Shenzhen was $800 million USD. There is a piano in the lobby lounge that cost $230,000. It was designed by the guy who designs Ferrari’s. There are only 10 of them made each year. It looks liked the hood of a car and is seriously one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
I can’t find the picture that I’m certain I had of the piano…so here’s a picture of the lobby – decorated for Christmas – instead. The piano is just to the left of the tree in this picture.
I walk across a bridge on my way to work every day, and there is always something interesting there. Singers, beggars, guys selling fake designer watches and jewelry…. One singer is actually pretty good and sings American songs. The other day he was crooning “Desperado.” He’s my favorite of the bridge people.
Thursday night, we went to the Shangri-la Hotel for an ex-pat dinner to celebrate the New Year. The menu was interesting. It was 12 courses and to give you an idea of what kind of food they have in China, here are a few of the menu items: double boiled shark fin soup, steamed mandarin fish with ham and mushrooms, steamed shrimp (the whole shrimp—heads, eyes, and everything) with lotus leaf, mussels and snap peas, and crispy chicken with taro curd sauce. Creative…but I was glad when we stopped at McDonald’s on the way home.
Lou Ho is a district of Shenzhen that is famous world wide for its shopping. I’ve gone there three or four times in the past two weeks. The most fun aspect of shopping in Lou Ho is that you get to bargain for what you’re buying. Example: I want to buy a watch and ask how much it is. The merchant types 250 into a calculator. I make a face, grab the calculator, and type in 50. He shakes his head and says, “No, no! Top quality watch.” (FYI: Nothing in Lou Ho is top quality. It’s all fake.) He types 150 into the calculator and says, “Bottom price.” I say, “Too high. No way,” and turn to walk away. He literally chases me down the hallway, “Lady, lady…100.” I say, “65.” Him: “I make no profit, but for you, 65.” It’s a buyers market.
Sunglasses in Lou Ho.
After an exhausting day of haggling and buying fake Coach purses, Frank Mueller watches, and Ping golf clubs (I didn’t buy golf clubs—the other Amy did), we decided to eat at Henry J. Beans Bar & Grill, a restaurant in the Shangri-la. The atmosphere was like Chili’s or Applebees. The food was good old fashioned American burgers, quesadillas, and chicken sandwiches. It was fabulous.
Amy and Saada – living the good life at HJB’s.
Portifino is a neighborhood near my apartment that is like a different world. It is set up like a little Swiss village. There is an array of café’s and shops set up around a pond. The residential buildings are condos that look nothing like the high rise apartments that are everywhere else in this city. Even the balconies where people hang their clothes out to dry look classier.
Sadly, I can’t find pictures of Portofino during the day. Here’s a night-dinner-table shot.
Ai (that’s Mandarin for love),