Today was a relaxed day with a traditional Peking Duck dinner for Thanksgiving and travel to Shanghai. No business visits, no lectures, no discussions.
We sat in a gorgeous restaurant, surrounded by glitz and glitter, divided up into tables of 9 with the standard spinning center platter for family style service. We were treated to a presentation of the Peking Duck traditional preparation which consists of, among other things, that the duck must be carved into 108 cuts exactly.
The number is sacred. The story was told. I was too preoccupied on what happens if you lose track of the count between 88 and 89.
This number matches the number of dishes served to the Empress Dowager Cixi, the last Empress of China, also known as The Dragon Lady at her meals. The number 9 was prevalent throughout the day and was a constant reminder that numerology is very important to the Chinese culture and much of what they do operates around it.
There are worse ways to run a country.
As eldest at the table I was offered the bill, skull and webbed feet, all delicacies. This was done with some embarrassment, as they did not expect the American to actually consume them. I did. The feet are like gummy candies if you don’t think too much about it. Beware the claws at the end. The skull was thin. I didn’t eat it all, but they were delighted I tried.
We later boarded the train to head to Shanghai, saying goodbye to our local guide and heading out in a high speed.
If Beijing is equivalent to Washington, D.C. and Jinan is equivalent to St. Louis or San Antonio, then Shanghai is New York. It is lit up in neon, showing constant signs of growth both as a financial and business power, and full of highly educated and dynamic people busily going about their days. Their evenings are as energetic, with clubs, bars, and restaurants packed with people dressed well, arriving in expensive cars, and spending fistfuls of money.
We were excited at this point for the final leg of our trip. We were seeing one of the most famous cities in the world, were going to be seeing several very exciting businesses, and we would finally have a chance to go out and experience night life that was familiar.
Oddly, we were wrong about the third…