Today was just a shopping day. Dan and I both had a few last gifts go get before we can go back; among other things, we’re still both trying hard to find stuff to give our fathers. On that front, we both failed miserably. Dads are really hard to shop for. If you’re reading this, father, you’re by all means invited to comment on what Chinesey stuff you could find interesting.

However, I can say that I have hopefully one-upped Russell in a pretty long contest we’ve been having to buy each other increasingly bizarre things in foreign countries. I guess it started in 2001 (has it really been nine years?) when I went to France. Some weird stuff has been exchanged since that time. Most recently, I got him a large fake rubber ear from Japan 08, and he responded with a keyboard wrist rest from China 09 that looks exactly like a baguette. I think today’s purchase gives that a run for its money, though. I’ll update the blog once I’m back in the states with what I bought, along with a picture. Pretty excellent.

Edit (2/3/2011):

The fact that these are _matches_ makes them the most offensive product I think I've ever encountered. So naturally I had to buy them...

Yesterday, though, was spent at a Chinese theme park called Happy Valley, which was every bit as ridiculous as one might imagine. I can’t upload pictures on this connection, so those will have to wait. EDIT: Can now. It looked like this:

Definitely not mustard gas. Noo

In the meantime though just imagine a Six-flags knockoff, down to the rides themselves. We rode carbon copies of the batman, superman, and even that one bugs bunny ride. Not that we weren’t completely ok with this, though – we in fact just took a class on why China is bad with enforcing safety regulations – so we’d rather them copy roller coasters that work than try to invent their own. Even so, I’ll readily admit that that getting on the Scream (the big tower that lifts you up and drops you) was a little more nerve-racking than usual, because it very plainly required us to put complete faith in the ability of Chinese hydraulic engineers to safely stop a large piece of freefalling metal. Which, to their credit, they seem to do admirably.

There was one thing that Happy Valley didn’t copy from us, though. It’s actually a phenomenon that we’ve noticed at tourist places all through the city, and even at the world expo; there isn’t really any price gouging. A big bottle of soda in the theme park runs you the same 5 kuai (75c) that it would anywhere else. It meant we could comfortably snack on stuff without breaking the bank.

Also, they put narrow benches all throughout the longer lines in the park, so that people waiting to ride don’t have to stand up for two hours. Pretty considerate.

PS the internet is getting aggressively, aggressively bad. Could barely log in to post this. Dan’s monitor is dying, and I can only find the LAN connection here once every few hours. It’s kinda a problem.

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