Biking Along a Canal, Thanksgiving Dinner

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

I awoke in a poor mood around 10AM. My stomach was unsteady from the previous dinner, my throat felt itchy, my dying tooth felt swollen and sore, and I still felt tired. I got out of bed and poured myself a glass of water from my nearly empty jug. J. was in America; I was alone.

Work responsibility loomed over my head that morning, but I decided that no matter how much I had to do, Saturday would be a work free day.

I applied some shoes to my feet and walked down the street to exchange another stack of 35 pink 100RMB notes for 5 crisp $100 bills and some change. J. left an “Indecent Proposal” amount of money for me to convert into bucks. The limits are $500 per day, per passport and she wasn’t able to exchange all of hers in time. The bankers knew what I was up to, but even then the process took forever. After my number was called, I went to the counter and gave the teller my passport, a form, and the cash. But the copier kept jamming as she tried to copy my passport. She gave up after 5 tries and came back to continue the paperwork before deciding to go and try again with another machine in another room. Successful, she came back and completed a complicated and paper-filled process of triplicates, receipts, and slamming three kinds of rubber stamps on all the forms.

After the bank, I picked up a latte and came back to the hotel. I had my coffee, but no plan for the day.

Saturdays were fleeting, and despite my desire to be a recluse, I knew I had to see the city. There was no destination calling out to me, so I decided on an unassuming area sandwiched between Zhongshan Road, Caoxi Road, and Hongmei Road. I had never been to the area before, though it wasn’t too far away. Plus, the little blue lines indicated their were filthy canals. I’ve found both the scenery more interesting and navigation easier if water is involved.

I set off into the cool dirty air of Shanghai, humming a happy biking tune as my perineum was further crushed under the weight of my sense of adventure.

Standard blue Chinese dump truck hidden under dragon skin.

Man collecting scrap wood in a large lot of rubble.

Woman in red coat on an electric bike.

Ginger on the sidewalk.

Blocked off pedestrian bridge over a canal.

Canal-side shanties.

Glorious golden cock.

Pedestrian bride with produce vendors.

Beer and hot coals along the canal.

A view down the canal: old and new.

A shanty built right up to the water’s edge.

Red, white, and blue fence.

Woman with sewing machine in a building’s nook.

Another view of the the canal along a park built below transmission lines.

Man with power drill crosses a bridge.

Father and daughter riding a compact bike. Yep, just business as usual on the streets here.

Hauling trash into a sorting lot.

Old man and cart.

A man smokes a cigarette while looking at a large sack of styrofoam.

Another sack of styrofoam.

Around the garbage dump, I found a secret garden pathway and makeshift toilet near the canal. But while I was taking a photo of a large pile of human stool I stepped in another large pile of human stool. I carefully wiped my shoe clean on the dry grass and assured myself that I would never photograph another man’s stool.

Tiled fence.

A little miscellaneous space in an industrial area.

A man dumps scraps of marble next to chalky splatters.

Massive rusted water pipe over the canal.

Boats and a distant pedestrian bridge.

Come stay at SKY FORTUNE!

Man and jug.

Laundry drying at a shack.

Man chipping away at something along a side canal.

Boat.

Large park.

A kid cries out like a wolf to his friends.

An ugly, massive, and random Egyptian themed salon building.

Father, mother and child ride together.

An entrance to a dump.

I made it home in the early afternoon with enough time to shower and buy a bottle of wine before heading off to a Thanksgiving meal. A coworker had planned a big get together with all the typical fare. I arrived at 4. No one else was there but the two hosts. The meal hadn’t been started yet, so I helped out. I hadn’t helped cook a Thanksgiving meal in a few years. The act of cooking along put me in good spirits and made me glad I got out of my reclusive mood and decided to go.

Appetizer bread with cheese and pumpkin.

Mulled wine.

Uncooked vegetables.

Pumpkin soup.

The turkey.

The turkey getting carved.

The ham getting carved.

Some of the dinner on display.

My first serving.

The dark hallway outside the warm apartment.

Dinner was excellent, as was the company. I left around 8:30 with a full belly and feeling a little happier.

The apartment was lifeless and empty when I got home. The light on the computer was pulsating enticingly. I warmed up some water to brew green tea. I had some browsing to do.

Feeling lonely but happy with my cup of green tea and Chinese Wolfberries.

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