Me and Chairman Mao
  In country. Again.
For those of you who don't know, we are officially back in China, and we have been for the better part of a week. What's it like, you ask? Like being in a completely different country. (Ha!) Just kidding. Kind of. The big difference is that we are now in Shanghai instead of Beijing, so it is almost like being in a different country: whereas Beijing is a very traditional Chinese city (see the past seven months of blog entries), large parts of Shanghai feel very western, like a large (really large) American city where all the signs just happen to be in Chinese. In fact, some sections of the city seem so Western that sometimes I walk around the corner and am actually surprised not to see a Cheesecake Factory or something similar. Pleasantly surprised, since the Cheesecake Factory is a terrible restaurant, but surprised nonetheless.

Anyway, we have spent most of this week sort exploring the immediate area and trying to figure out where things are. "Things," in this case, consisting mostly of a DVD store, since we need something to watch at night besides CSI, which for some reason always seems to be on here. (As well as Elimidate, which is even stranger. Although both are actually on a TV channel from the Philippines, so I guess it's not really China's issue.) We thought we were in luck when we found a store reasonably close and bought both Batman Begins and Mr. & Mrs. Smith for less than two bucks (total), but it didn't work out very well for us: the first was dubbed entirely in Russian, which made it hard to watch, although apparently "Bruce!" is universal so every once in a while I knew what they were saying; and the second was a terrible copy--not only was it crooked and off-center, but it was done in a crowded theater so there was a lot of interference from people inconsiderate enough to get up during the course of the movie and pass right through the camera's field-of-view as they did so. The nerve. Oh well--maybe next time.

We have also spent more time than I would have imagined at one of the malls near our apartment. (We live about 5 minutes away from a huge intersection that is home to six different malls, all connected underground through the subway station--which itself has a mall--so you could spend an entire day shopping without ever going outside. Which is handy, since outside is 90 degrees and very humid, but still ...) One mall, the Grand Gateway, is, I think, the biggest mall I have ever been in: eight stories, over thirty restaurants (we've been to four so far, although one of them was Pizza Hut, which might not count), a brand-new grocery store in the bottom, and so very crowded that it's already starting to freak me out.

Naturally, in an attempt to properly finish our new place, I have also been to Ikea. Twice. In five days. Exciting stuff, I know. While there, I realized that I was buying the same drying rack--the wood folding one with the separate wooden holder for utensils; I know you know what I mean--for, as far as I can remember, the fifth time in my life. Something about that just seems very, very sad to me. Probably because I don't have stock in Ikea.

Oh well. Now I'm off to look for DVDs, get lunch, buy stuff for dinner, and sweat profusely. Jealous much?
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