We had dinner with several friends in Shanghai this week. I have been living in Beijing for two months and this was my first business trip back to Shanghai. Dave and Kristi were there along with Kristi’s parents who were visiting from the Seattle area. Dave and Kristi are the first friends I met in China. I say ‘I’ since Linda was still living in Chicago. Linda became a friend later. The memory is vivid since I met them one summer in a taqueria in Shanghai, China on a street named Taikang Lu. How many friends can you say that about?
I arrived in Shanghai in June 2004 and was living at the Ritz Carlton while searching for a permanent apartment. The taqueria, Taco Popo, was around the corner from the hotel – it has since moved to an uninspiring new venue. This is notable because the original had ambience – located in a shallow storefront about 3 meters deep and 6 meters wide. There were no tables, just a counter between the open grill and the eight stools for customers. Drinks were available from a refrigerator at the end of the counter. Tsing Tao beer was 10 kuai – about US$1.25. Our own little taste of Mexico without the Spanish.
I was alone and quietly eating my taco and burrito – both minced beef. Dave and Kristi were seated next to me and we started talking. Kristi is cute so I was quizzing Dave to evaluate normalcy of personality and general manhood. My experience in China is that you meet three types of expats in China:
Type #1: People with an adventurous spirit that are in China for various interesting reasons
Type #2: Talented business people that are developing international management skills
Type #3: People that can’t function in the countries they came from and somehow ended up in China
Dave is Type #1 – quite acceptable.
Dave and Kristi lived in Washington State and Boston prior to moving to China. Basically, they left their jobs and made a temporary move to China. Kind of like a mid-life crisis and kind of like a career transition. Dave works in the admissions office at the Shanghai American School and Kristi is a freelance writer. We expect to remain friends with Dave and Kristi for many years.
Huangshan – Yellow Mountain
We get together with Dave and Kristi often, usually for dinner. But our big adventure was a weekend trip to Huangshan (Yellow Mountain). You never know how personalities will coalesce on a trip – we had never traveled together. It worked out well enough that our next adventure is planned to Mount Kilimanjaro – high but not considered technical.
Huangshan is generally considered one of the more spectacular sites in China. It did not disappoint – there were moments when we thought we might die on the mountain. The hiking is fairly serious (i.e. vertical) but in a Chinese way. Huangshan must contain about 10 million concrete steps – you don’t walk a trail but follow concrete steps. I don’t think Kilimanjaro has concrete steps.
We hiked up one day, spent the night on the mountain, and hiked halfway down the mountain the next day. The 2nd half was traversed via cable car. On day 3 we returned to the cable car and hiked down the final part of the mountain. Going down is much easier than going up.
Krisit is a writer, so I hope she will share a full version of the trip.
Click here to see some pictures, including a lovely one of our friend Kristi.