East Nanging Road

That’s East Nanjing Road, one of the shopping thoroughfares in Shanghai. It’s a street that knocks your senses upside down. The lights, the superstores, the over-sized malls, the aggressive touts, the hawkers, the pimps, the prostitutes, the scammers. They’re all there.

I arrived in Shanghai on Friday afternoon. I spent the evening walking East Nanjing Road, where I was approached by at least five guys selling Rolex watches, a handful of women selling fancy hand bags, several more guys offering me bar girls and massages (one guy cut to the chase and asked, “sexxx?”), what seemed like a mom and daughter team trying to get me to help them out with a transaction and another girl who wanted to practice her English with me. Yeah, right.

Apparently, I do dress and look like a tourist. Maybe it’s the camera I’m holding all the time. Or could it be the plaid shorts or the Wilco t-shirt? Probably all of the above.

And I got the infamous phone call once I returned to the hotel around 11:00 p.m. Could it be the front desk ready to come fix the crappy internet connection? Nope. “Massageee?” the girl asked on the other line.

Welcome to Shanghai.