(A recap of my China adventures from Monday, August 28th…)
The photo above (courtesy of Jian Shuo Wang) shows one of Shanghai’s many cheap and cheerful taxis, instrumental in getting LinLyn and I through the crucial last mile (more like last block) from the People’s Square subway station to our hotel on the day of our arrival. Because it was such a hassle transferring from the Maglev to the subway on our way in, we decided to forgo the 430 km/h train ride and take a cab all the way to the airport for our departure.
And wouldn’t you know it, we get the one cab in all of Shanghai in desperate need of a tune-up.
It started on the highway when we noticed that every other vehicle on the road was passing us, honking madly as they roared by. I thought at first the driver was just trying to save gas by keeping the engine speed low, but it seemed after a while that the car was shuddering between only its second and third gears. We couldn’t really ask what was up, because (1) we didn’t speak Chinese, and (2) the driver spent most of the journey coughing into his kerchief. All we could do was wonder which would give out first—man or machine!
We eventually puttered into Pudong International Airport, and once our bags were checked did some last minute duty-free shopping. I spied a book called Chinese in Plain English. I thumbed through it briefly and got the English translation for the Mandarin phrase Wah-jr dao—it means “I know”.
This instantly explained a show I had seen on TV the night before. Just like back home Chinese television has been infected by reality shows, and American Idol knock-offs are no exception. The twist is that a lot of the performer/contestants are kids—six year-old kids, even! One of these young crooners, shall we say a rather husky lad, was being interviewed by the show’s presenter, who started pinching the kid’s chubby cheeks. The kid replied “Wah-jr dao!” and the audience laughed. Then the host started rubbing the kid’s belly, to which the kid replied “Wah-jr dao!” and the audience laughed again. Then the kid sticks out his own ass and shouts (you guessed it) “Wah-jr dao!”, and hilarity ensued. Look for the pilot episode of “Fat Camp Pre-Tween Idol” coming to our airwaves next season…
Speaking of TV it’s worth noting that the spindly tentacles of Just For Laughs Gags have extended all the way to Pudong Airport. It was playing full volume in the departure lounge, and worse, people were laughing along with it. Ugh.
Our flight home was delayed about twenty minutes by a raging thunderstorm that had forced the closure of the airport’s main runway. LinLyn and I were very fortunate that this was the only significant rain of our entire trip. Maybe Shanghai was sad to see us go and couldn’t hold back the tears until we left?
Yeah, probably not…