In a turn of events that I can only describe as "delicious," I am now in Holland. I have found the Netherlands to be a mysterious land, filled with fat white 40 year old women, biracial couples, Surinam, and too many tattoos.
Arriving in the Netherlands has been quite the culture shock. This was not helped by the fact that the first street I walk down happened to be the heart of the "red light district." I have never seen so many naked people, nor smelled so much pot, nor seen so many over priced Chinese restaurants in one place. But I guess other than the stereotypical coffeeshops and what not, Amsterdam is pretty chill. However, for someone who was used to the different culture each street Shanghai had to offer (seriously, still confused by "California-esque stucco" on Fuxing Lu - How did that happen?), wandering around Amsterdam for 5 hours was a little bit meh. It was not helped by me getting lost in a thunderstorm, getting splashed by a car going through a puddle, still being lost, and then finally getting back to the hotel. That's not to say I don't like Amsterdam, it's just it's quite a bit different than my month in Shanghai. For example, in terms of "count rare things," it's usually "count the black people" (The answer is 31), however, here it's "count the number of Indian+other-race couples (the answer is 0).
One thing I have no qualm with is the food. Who would have thought a cheese sandwich (with butter?) and tomato soup would have been so damn good? I also got a whole red snapper for dinner. nom nom nom. To top it off, I got a free upgrade to the "executive suite" at the airport. This means FREE PRETZELS AND BANANAS. Did you know China doesn't have pretzels? Did you also know I was too lazy to look? They do have bananas. I just don't know how to ask for them. And the last time I tried asking for another fruit, I got iced tea.
It's too bad I don't have more time to relax and take some more time to see the city (since I really only managed to get sufficiently lost in the "oost" part of the city - look at those crazy Dutch skillz right there.) I also got lost on Czar Peter Road. Best name for a street ever? I wonder if the people on that street ever get into fisticuffs with people from Prince Hendrick Street.
Speaking of streets - PEOPLE PLAYING MUSIC WITH BEER BOTTLES ON THE STREET.
There's also trash and dirt on the street. And no one walking around managing traffic or picking up said trash. This is quite a change from the cleanliness of Shanghai. The stereotype is that China is a dirty place, right? The countryside, certainly. Some streets in Shanghai, certainly. In general though, there's almost no trash on the street and the city itself (minus the kind of sticky, oppressive, summer humidity) is actually very clean. I guess that's what happens when you have so many people who need jobs?
Baahhh - I'm going to miss Shanghai. The transportation is convenient. It's in a language I sort of understand. There are taxis in case it's torrentially down-pouring. By my estimates there are 3 taxis in all of Amsterdam. And then only drive around when it's nice out. Buggers.
But yeah - 上海我想死你了！ I'm looking forward to (hopefully) going back.
And here's to hoping the next update finds me in Almaty, Kazakhstan chillin' with Ilyas.