Monday, August 1, 2011

Riding Dirty

            Just like those wonderful nights in high school where boring nights always turn into epic adventures, I sat in my apartment bored, figuring out what I should do. In weekend mode and not in the mood to work on my thesis, I decided to pop in a movie and clean my room since oddly enough I like to organize things when I get bored.  Over the course of the year, I have accumulated a large amount of coins that I have thrown into a jar. It seems that in china, they love to give you coins any chance they can which is a pain in the butt because they weigh down my pockets always fall out. With that being said, whenever I do have change, I dump it into the bowl so that I do not have to carry it.
            From time to time, I will go to the store and purchase things using only coins, while I might feel like I’m back in middle school after scrounging the house for enough change to buy a candy bar, it relieves me of the burden of the change and using my bills to get more change. Since I am leaving China in less than a month, I decided I should make another middle school run and go grocery shopping with coins. Dumping the pile coins on the grown, Jill and I started to separate the coin by denomination. Similar to pennies, the yi jiao are a hassle to handle and it takes 10 of them to make a jiao. I decided to take all my yi jiao and make a Chris Slezak 7-11 shopping spree and just buy any drinks, candy and junk food that I fancy.
             To make thing easier on the cashier, we counted out 10 yi jiao and taped them together to make them into a roll and then tossed them into a little bag. We had about 100RMB worth of these rolls, which made for some Good Friday night snacks. As the clerk rang us up, expected us to pay with bills, we threw him a curve ball and poured out the sack of rolled coins. First looking flabbergasted at all the yi jiao, he laughed it off as he counted each and every one of the rolls.Trying to find room in the cash register to store them, he eventually stored some under the counter.
            After devouring out snacks, we decided we should go on a late night cruise of the city. My roommate Mike was out of town and left his scooter for me so we decided to take a 1 am drive to the bund, which is about a 20-minute drive from my house by taxi.  Having cruised around on the scooter previously without charging it, it said that there was still about 80% of battery left, which I figure would be enough to get us there and back. As we roamed the streets avoiding all the crazy taxis and Chinese drivers, we finally made it to the Bund. This adventure turned out to be one of the best times I’ve had in Shanghai as it so random and speractic. We decided to drive down the riverfront and people watch at different locations as people stumbled their way out of the swanky clubs and bars. Before we knew it the battery suddenly used up all the power and we were stuck about 8 mile from my house.
            On the scooter there are bike pedals which you can use to turn the scooter into a bike, but with 2 people on the scooter it is very difficult and tiring to manuver because of the weight and the proximity of the pedals to where you are sitting. After trying to bike for about 15 minutes and barely making it off the bund, we decided to see if we could flag down a taxi to take us home as it was already 3Am and at this rate, we wouldn’t be home until at least 5 or 6. Standing outside one of the nicer clubs in shanghai, we tried to flag down a cab but kept getting rejected as they said they couldn’t fit the bike in their car, or that it was too heavy. We even offered to pay them 100rmb, which was more than double the normal price, but still no one bit on our offer. As I kept peddling on for about another half mile, we tried our luck again and still nothing.  Thinking we would either have to park the bike somewhere and come back and get it the next day with the recharged battery, we flagged down one last cab for the heck of it.
            Without offering him the 100rmb like we told everyone else, we just said that we would pay him extra and he agreed to take the bike with us but he would go extra extra slow so that it wouldn’t fall out. I.e. milk the meter but of course in our best interest. We threw the scooter in the back of the car and off we went. The taxi driver really meant he would go slow as we were going about 5 miles per hour ,while the other cars were flying past us making it seem like we were at a standstill. As I looked outside I saw people walking past us at a faster speed, but in retrospect, it was fine by me because I didn’t have to pedal the bike. Finally, after about an hour trip, we arrived at my apartment. I pulled the scooter out of the trunk only to have the taxi driver standing there asking for more money. I looked at him and laughed and off we went.

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