Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kevin Goes Home

We knew this day was coming. Kevin has been here for 3 months and after one visa extension is heading back home to Oregon.

So on Thursday we got the friends that are left in Nanjing (many had moved on to different cities for their internships) and went out for a Chinese meal, meaning hot pot!

We've eaten hot pot before, and even made it at Dennis' house, and it's a spicy pot of flavor that you cook meat and veggies in. It's super tasty, but the 麻辣 (numbing spice) variety will numb your mouth at the same time that it sets it aflame!

You can also make your own sauce. Fun times. General combinations include peanut sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, etc but they had some other interesting sauces that we just guessed by smell.

It was a wonderful dinner filled with laughter and talking and lots of hot pot food! The one thing about hot pot is that it is a conversation meal rather than a filling meal. So when we finished eating and were walking back towards the houses, we said goodbye to a bunch of people and Cathy, Kevin and I went to get soup dumplings! They were something that we've tried before but during a rush, so we wanted to try them while it wasn't super crazy (during peak hours there are lines out the door for both order and pick up). Yum. Then, because Kevin's appetite is insatiable, we went to get Muslim noodles to actually fill him up. And then, after three meals, we went home.

On Sunday we took the high speed train over to Shanghai and made our way to the airport hotel, which was certainly an adventure. Shanghai has 11 subway lines (makes sense, I suppose, for the largest city in the world), and after getting to the train station we had to take Line 1, Line 2, and then the MagLev to the airport, and then a taxi to the hotel.

The MagLev was so cool. There are no rails, and it travels at about 400 km per hour (about 250 miles per hour).

When it pulled up we noticed several suspicious looking spots on the front- yep, you don't want to get in the way of the MagLev!! Around 7 minutes after we left the station we were at the airport, about 45 minutes faster! Definitely worth the 50 kuai.

After getting to the hotel we checked in and settled, then decided to do our favorite activity; take a walk. We didn't realize when we booked the hotel just how in the middle of nowhere the hotel/airport is, so our walk was pretty quiet. We walked down the food-stand part of a shanty town (whose residents I'm pretty sure are all airport/airport hotel employees), but decided not to explore more for safety sake.

We decided to stay up all night so Kevin can hopefully sleep on the plane to get used to Oregon time, so we brought some movies and stuff to do, but we forgot to bring snacks! After realizing how little there was around us inspiration struck- the hotel airport shuttle! It goes to the airport and back, so why not make a round trip? After checking to make sure that it was okay (I've found in China that it's better to ask permission instead of forgiveness and not the other way around) we got on the shuttle and went to the airport!

I'm really glad we got to go there at night. The airport is built either on water or with water around it, so there were huge lifted highways crisscrossing each other and at night they're all lit up. It was so pretty to see them, like a painting as you went to fly away. The airport itself is also awesome, and it looks like an architectural feat. The buildings themselves look like wind waves and the inside is just crazy. Sound-dampening too, so much so that we can have a conversation and not hear the people next to us.

After wandering around and exploring we found a place with coffee that was still open, enjoyed a latte, and then explored some more! Then things got loopy. I haven't had caffeine past 9 am in a rather long time, and having 2 shots of espresso at 9 pm made me kind of crazy. So we decided to have an adventure!

Kevin's favorite chips here are numb and spicy hot pot Lays chips. We thought that we'd be able to get them in Shanghai, but after searching around the shantytown street, we came up with nothing! So we decided to check every convenience store in the airport until we found one. After running around fruitlessly for about 40 minutes we finally found a place with the chips! We were even going to take the metro to some super marts, but then we realized that both the stores and the subway itself close at 10! So after jumping up and down and dancing a little we got three bags, some other provisions, and decided to catch the shuttle back to the hotel.

Everything was closed. Our adventure was contained in the airport (which is still fun. Airports are cool. I was a little surprised that no one from TSA grabbed us, until Kevin pointed out that we are in China, and TSA doesn't exist here.

 Ok, this totally looks like the game Sorry, right? It wasn't just my caffeine high?
 And then we went up to 400 km/hr, and then 7 minutes later, we were there!

I took a video from the MagLev on the way back to the train station. There are two of these things, and on the way there it scared the crap out of me when the other one went zooming by!

Kevin dropped me off at the MagLev station inside the airport on Monday at noon and we said goodbye. Very sad, but needed. He needs to finish school and I need to write my thesis paper! When he was packing I kept wanting to pack with him- take down pictures and figure out what I want to leave here and what to take with. I just want to be home. But this will be the last time we're away from each other, and it will be a good experience to live alone for 2 months. I already miss him like crazy, but it's actually pretty easy to talk because the time is 15 hours difference instead of 12 (which is much more difficult).

Our booty!

Time for bed! While staying up all night for Kevin made sense, me staying up was just for the heck of it, which makes for a tired Tuesday. Love,

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