Shanghai: Day One.
Man, that was a long flight. The direct flight into Shanghai was completely sold out, so we had to take a detour through Hong Kong. All in all it was the longest multi-hop flight I’ve done, although I’m pretty sure India will beat it come December. Got in around midnight, and was out at “club row” with the boys before 2am. Ate some dicey lamb kebabs from a street vendor. The sticks of uncooked meat were housed in a filthy styrofoam cooler (not chilled, just in there) on the ground, and he’d reach in with his bare hands and grab them (by the meat-end) to stick them over the coals. Fanning the coals to flame, he’d shake a generous amount of spicy seasoning onto the meated skewers. Mmm… those were good. Soon after though, my stomach revolted on me – I like to think not because of the kebabs but because of the six or so Djarums I indulged in. Either way, I found myself ready to go long before the others – and hailed a cab back to the apartment. Unable to sleep, I tossed and turned on my unbelievably hard mattress until the rest of the drunks stumbled in and woke me. Turns out I missed an almost-altercation in which some girl was forehead-thumped with a dumpling… maybe I’m glad I left early. Anyway, the college-life parallels I drew earlier about being in this apartment with buddies were dead-on… it’s gonna be a week…
I don’t know if it’s just where we went last night, or if it can be said of Shanghai in general – but the hookers here are much more brazen than anything I thought previously brazen from Taiwan. Maybe it’s because, in Taiwan, I run with a respectable crew of locals that don’t tend to frequent the red light district – but the women of the night seem much more subtle there than what I experienced last night. Girls just come up one after another, ask your name, and tell you how much it’ll cost to enjoy their “company” for the evening. You can’t escape it, they are literally everywhere. Even as I was climbing into the back seat of a taxi headed home, a girl tapped on my window to say, “Don’t go home alone, you can still go home with me.”
As I’ve written about previously when in Taiwan, I get that same familiar sense of disgust seeing sleazy American men taking full advantage of the “industry” here. I don’t know why I should, the girls are obviously out to make money, and the guys seem to have a good time losing it – so perhaps it’s a victimless crime. But, I can’t help but watch these pompous Americans seemingly lording over the women. Walking into the bar in the same business-casual clothes they wore to work that day, taking a minute to salaciously scan the room as if it were buffet line, and striding, cock-out-front, up to whichever girl they’ve chosen to bless with their almighty dollar. There’s no introductions, no small-talk, just right to the grabbing and pawing and kissing. It’s understood: I’m American, I chose you to fuck tonight, here’s a dollar bitch. I hate watching it actually, some tall mustachioed man bending down to plant a sloppy kiss on a only-willing-because-you’re-paying Asian woman, hands kneading her as he says ridiculous things out loud like, “You’re beautiful all the time, at 5am, at noon; always.” He knows compliments aren’t necessary; it must make it seem more like he’s working for it… maybe gives him the satisfaction of wooing her… dulls the fact that he could be one of any number as long as the money’s the same.
I had more, but there’s no time. Tomorrow, perhaps. ‘Night.