Despite my current non-Chinese location, I believe I have a couple China posts left in me. So here we go:
It had been pouring rain all week in Shanghai, as covered in the last post, and Ness and I were spending a lot of time in the apartment where it was dry and we didn't have to look and feel like drowned rats. Still, there's only so much internet to surf before you're all surfed out – which meant we needed to get out. A visit to Ramsey's gym was a good diversion.
The Sai Rui MMA and Fitness Club is on the 6th floor of an office building on Wuzhong road, a quick bus ride from the apartment. Ramsey started it with his business partner, another expat, several months ago, and it's an impressive facility, with a full fighting cage, heavy bags suspended from the ceiling, an aerobics/dance room, showers, massage room, weights and other work out equipment. I got to experience one of Ramsey's fitness classes first-hand as he took Ness and I through a kettle bell routine. Turns out I'm not very good at coordinated repetitive motion, especially when it involves squatting a lot and swinging a heavy kettle bell between my legs. Good thing Ramsey is good instructor, and I ended up learning a lot, just ask my hopelessly sore legs and thighs.
That night there was a brawl. Okay, not so much a brawl as a planned fighting event which brought three local gyms together to compete along with a bunch of MMA enthusiasts, their supporters, and a few small children. A fighting magazine even came to cover the event, attaching fancy cameras to the tops of the cage to capture the action. The whole thing was very multi-national, with Americans, Brazillians, Russians, Germans, and Chinese in attendance. The Russians seemed to be the most into it, shouting loud encouragement to their countryman during a kickboxing match. Their enthusiasm was infectious. One of my favorite bouts involved a guy who showed up randomly from the street. He was a portly Chinese dude, his belly hanging out and his helmet too small to fit over his chins. One of the on-lookers called him Kung Fu Panda – and it was really the perfect name, considering the crazy arm movements he was doing between punches. Just awesome.
The next morning it rained even harder, but we went out in it anyway. Ness wanted to show me Qibao, a famous water street filled with small shops, street food, and traditional architecture. It was a lovely place, but man were we drenched. Umbrellas didn't seem to stop my shoes from filling with water, my clothes absorbing every last bit of moisture, the sharp wind turning me into a walking refrigeration unit. It just didn't let up, and yet the street was packed with people. We had dumplings at a small shop in an alley, grateful to be out of the downpour for a little while, and then ended up cutting the visit short. It was just too much damned water. We fought the rain, and the rain won.
On an unrelated note: if you like cheese, don't go to China. For some odd reason it is really hard to find, and when you find it, it's pricey as all hell. $10 for a small bag of shredded cheddar. Boo! Same for sour cream. Worth it tho. My last night in China we ate tasty, tasty burritos, most everything made from scratch. Our tortillas could have been rounder (they looked like someone had dropped dough balls from a very high building) but it all tasted so delicious! I love me the Chinese food, but after a full month of it, Mexican really hit the spot.