Chance meeting = trip highlight

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Anders and I returned yesterday from a trip to Shanghai. I will write more about our impressions of Shanghai and what we did tomorrow. Today I want to write about the highlight. There were actually 2 highlights and the first one will be brief and needs to be explained as it’s part of the second one.

We had a friend living in the apartment complex that was here on business and his family was back in the States. We had a lot of fun with J before he went back to the States unexpectedly for business reasons (he’s not a P&Ger). We missed his company but thought about him often and kept in touch through email.

Anders went to a city about 1 1/2 hours outside of Shanghai last Wednesday for business. I flew to Shanghai on Friday to meet him there for a long weekend (I swore I was going to accompany him on every business trip). Imagine our surprise when we got an email from J that he was traveling with a colleague and they would be arriving in Shanghai on Friday night!!! We made plans to meet J and E the next day.

What a thrill to see him again. It was also very nice to meet E. After a bit of  shopping for J’s wife, an amazing lunch, and some sightseeing we decided to see one more place. After getting out of the taxi and while trying to get our bearings, Anders said that he was having a hard time finding our destination on the map. A Chinese gentleman ( I will refer to him as Mr. C) heard him and said that he was going to his shop and would show us the way. During our 15 minute or so walk through large crowds he managed to talk to all 4 of us individually and we learned that he owned a pearl shop.  Upon learning about Mr. C’s shop I asked him if he would show it to us. I knew that I wouldn’t be walking out empty-handed. I had wanted to buy green pearls but hadn’t gotten around to the GZ pearl market. I decided that I might as well buy from him. I LOVE meeting the people who own the businesses or are the craftsmen.  I think he was quite pleased and proud that I asked. I didn’t confer with the rest of my party but sometimes men just have to go along with the lady in the group.

We walked up several flights of stairs and landed in his pearl shop.  He had explained on the way that he owns the business with his friend. They have their own freshwater pearl farm 250km. away and all of the work is controlled by them. The first thing we were shown was a live pearl. He had his assistant open it for us and inside were 17 pearls! I didn’t know you could get so many. He told us that most weren’t usable but still…do you know how cool it was to see that many pearls in one shell? I made my way to the green pearls. Pearls naturally come in colors of white, lavender, gray, and pink…I think. I wasn’t paying too much attention because I was scanning the display cases 😉 I knew that green pearls were dyed, that’s OK. They’re still real pearls! Mr. C came over after I had chosen my necklace, bracelet, and earrings. He talked to the sales clerk and gave me a GREAT deal. I paid $75 for all three. I did not negotiate or bargain, I knew I was already getting a very good deal. The surprise is that E decided to buy as well for his wife! Mr. C was simply on his way to work, bumped into 4 Americans that were trying to find their way, offered to help, and ended up selling 3 strands of pearls, 1 bracelet, and 1 pair of earrings. Talk about karma!

While I was waiting for E to conclude his business Mr. C asked me if I would share a cup of tea with him.  I was honored that he asked and of course I accepted. The older one gets that more one realizes that sometimes there is a right answer. We all had a tea tasting with 4 different types. Tea really is an art in China. We sat and chatted for about 30 minutes and Mr. C was very open and honest about what it was like growing up and living in China. He lived through the Cultural Revolution where he and his family worked on a farm for 9 years. During that time there were no books and no music. Can you imagine not being able to read a book or listen to music for 9 years?!?! He has seen a lot of change in his country and was more than happy to share his experiences. He was also EXTREMELY knowledgable about the US. He knew the nicknames for every state Anders and I were born in and lived in.

Eventually we had to leave but I can’t tell you what a treat it was to meet Mr. C. I will never forget him and will certainly think about him every time I put on my pearls.

4PM – 73° (woohoo – it’s been 2 weeks since I saw the sun and only the second day in a month!)

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About vikarenously

I am an ex-pat living in Guangzhou, China. I am married to the man of my dreams who has indulged my love of travel by working hard enough to snag two international assignments. Oh yes, I also have two amazing children who accompanied us on our first one to Switzerland and are now mature and responsible adults which makes it so easy for us to experience this adventure as empty-nesters. Experience it vicariously with Karen.

4 responses »

  1. Please tell me Mr. C (all I could think of was Mr. C from Happy Days) spoke English! Or have you met your goal already and can speak Mandarin that well?! I would also like to know what happens to the oyster after you pry it open. Someone MUST eat it……. who? Also, how can you show us pictures, but not of your pearl purchases?! I’m going to need to see them! 🙂 I still want to see your custom made clothing. You and Anders can model and take pictures of one another. That would be so cute.

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