Question: WHY are we at the end of September? Christmas has been celebrated for a month already in the Philippines. Just seems like a few months ago that we were welcoming in the New Year! Is it just me?
Well, it has been one helluva year so far. I have completely immersed myself in the mobile app that we call “PetnPals,” and at the same time not only have I lost myself in this project. But I have also found myself, in more ways than one.
Now let’s get you up to date...
Back in July, I read about the biggest pet fair in Asia. I had my doubts about attending, let alone running a booth. But my sidekick in life and business (more on that later) stepped in with a business heart to heart. Nothing to lose. Let’s do it. So we did.
Fast forward 2 months, a lot of headaches and tears later.
After a plane crash landing on the NAIA runway, 40 kilos of luggage, and a questionable 144 hour “transit visa” later.. I rolled into Shanghai. Yes. ROLLED.
There I was in Shanghai airport, hoping to find an ATM to get money for a cab to our hotel. But there were around 4 ATM’s in the airport, and ALL only for local bank account holders. The only one I did find for “foreigners” was of course broken. Two hours later, I crawled to get a cab hoping the driver would understand the universal sign language of “no cash, NEED BANK”.
The nice man did, but the poor bastard took me to a bank that of course did not accept my card again and neither was I able to communicate with anyone. Back to square one. Now what was the sign language to “Hotel?”
Blue Horizon “Not so International” hotel
Well, to be fair the official name of the hotel is “The Blue Horizon International Hotel.” But I’m still trying to figure out what was so international about it? (Insert sarcasm here) Was it that there were at least 3 languages being spoken in the lobby? Or how helpful they were towards their guests who were non Chinese? Or maybe even how the tv had a variety of International tv channels like CNN International, or Al Jazeera, Arirang, or BBC? Perhaps even the breakfast buffet that had an aray of dishes for the Chinese and Western palate?
Looking on the bright side, if it wasn’t for this hotel then I wouldn’t have had discovered the DiDi app. DiDi is the Chinese version of Uber, and proved to be our lifesaver throughout this week long Chinese escapade! Except for the evening that we nearly died because our DiDi driver could not see!
Call me silly, but I did come prepared with cups of Ramyun and 3 in 1 instant coffee. Aka, the basics! This held me over until my partner in crime (and by “crime,” I mean business and love and life) arrived.
Setting up shop…
… by myself made me feel pretty gangsta. Registering our booth and setting it up by myself in what felt like a sauna, with 2 big poster roll ups and a big luggage with zero Chinese vocabulary (except Ni Hao) was no joke. But I did it and it was fine. "Finer" than trying to find an ATM that accepted foreign cards at Shanghai International.
Shave that beard!
“The world is a different place depending on where you are coming from” - Emilio Cruz.
We agreed for him to shave that beard because I doubt Chinese immigration would be in favour of a bearded man flying in from Iraq with a passport full of visa stamps from the Middle East.
Plus the fact that when I was in line for my transit visa at Shanghai International, to my right were a group of 4 Middle Eastern looking men with beards sitting on a bench next to a Chinese Official. It did not appear that they were going anywhere fast either.
Well… he arrived. Not happy. But relieved he was finally at our International hotel! YAY!
Want to know what happened next during our Shanghai Shenanigans? Stay tuned for Part 2, and have your beverage of choice at the ready! Oh and enjoy the weird photos that I snapped on my first day in Shanghai.