Tom Linnemann, the former St. John's quarterback, now a family man and business executive, is back from Asia, after pretty much killing it. He has chronicled his adventures with a travelogue on 1500ESPN.com.
TOMMY HEADS HOME WITH NEW SUITS, SHIRTS AND A FIGHTER HELMET
We went to the fabric market when we got back to Shanghai and made a major order for some tailored clothes. Since I work in corporate America, and soon to be corporate Canada, getting suits and dress shirts made is practical. It's also pretty baller.
I picked out the fabric on two suits--a black one and a gray one. I picked out the material and style on four dress shirts. Classy stuff.
Josh went a little more extreme. He got two suits, three sport coats and fourteen shirts. But to understand Josh, you need to know that there's a catch.
Josh loves to party, though as I said he's been sober 10 years. He turns up the volume in different ways. Therefore when Josh asked for two tailored shirts to be sleeveless, I wasn't surprised.
He's very excited to be out with a sport coat on, having a good time, and then bust off his sport coat to unleash his guns to party rock the place.
Before we went shopping at the Fake Market we needed some energy to negotiate with the shops. We ate 20 dumplings, this time the fried ones at Yang's.
They're somewhere between golf ball and racquetball-sized balls of awesome. We have to find a way to kidnap one of these dumpling guys and bring him to Minneapolis to open a shop.
The Fake Market is exactly that--knock-off stuff that looks like real brand-name stuff. It's a fascinating element of any major Asian city as you can haggle for all the fake Louis Vuitton bags and Rolexes you want. Imagine Canal Street in NYC then multiply that by a million.
Whenever a product comes out--for example, every store had the Dr Dre Beats headphones--the Chinese take it apart to find out how it works so they can re-engineer the parts and components at a cheaper cost.
Because they are using less reliable parts than are used in the real products, the likelihood of these items breaking are a virtual certainty.
I bought some cuff links and an awesome T-shirt that shows a picture of the Great Wall and it says, "I come to Shanghai". If it said, "I came to Shanghai" it would be a terrible shirt.
After dinner, we hung out with Josh's friends at a few bars. We went to a fundraiser that provided the opportunity to take a picture with Santa. I talked to one of Josh's friends and heard her story.
She grew up in Hubei province in a small village and when she was 14 her uncle lifted her through a window onto a train bound for a factory in Shenzhen. She worked 12 hours a day and made a whopping $70 a month. She made VCRs and lived at a dormitory.
It seemed like a predictable existence until she did what WE call the American way - but it's the new Chinese way. Her determination allowed her to climb up the ladder.
She met some people and took a new job at a golf course. She saved money and moved to Beijing to study English and treaties. Now she is a translator and key business aide who is able to
help companies navigate the Chinese business landscape.
I met more of Josh's ex-pat friends and they're all pretty much killing it over here. One of his friends created a company called Sherpas that is a delivery service from restaurants. The market is growing so fast and it is so underdeveloped. It's the wild, wild east.
There is a ton of money to be made over here if you adapt to the language and culture.
We went to a couple more bars and passed on the homemade rum being fermented in the backroom of the hookah place. At around 3:30a.m., we felt like getting foot massages so we went over to a club and played charades until she understood what we were trying to say.
She kept talking to me like at some point I'd get it and bust out some Mandarin. After pointing to my feet and rubbing them and then pointing to her, I would think that's pretty clear.
So I went back to just saying "Yogwai, Zogwai, Nero Mien". She didn't understand why I was saying "left-turn, right-turn, beef noodles" but I didn't understand how she was so bad at charades.
I also got something called "cupping". It's a toxin-release (allegedly) where they oil your back and then take glass bulbs, light a wand on fire and put the fire in the bulb and quickly press it onto your back so it suction-cups.
I have 13 giant red spots on my back that are the size of baseballs .I asked for six but again it was lost in translation. It looks like I've been tortured. It didn't really hurt; it felt like someone pinching your back. But if there is a chance I could get rid of some toxins, I'm all in.
A little more shopping then back to the US of A. I feel like I've been gone a month and I miss my family. But I needed to get away from my I-phone and email and everything else for awhile to truly relax. Mission Accomplished.
There are a couple more observations:
*The train from the Shanghai airport to the next station got up to 431 km per hour, or 268 mph. Our rapid transit has some catching up to do.
*Don't take red taxis in Shanghai. The meters spin twice as fast as the yellows and blues. Red = Bad.
*Spitting is a lifestyle over here. It's really shocking. But the winner was the guy who went with the full-on Stearns County farmer's blow where you push down one nostril and let it rip.
*Once anything hits the table or ground, consider it gone. It's dead. No five second rule. Just move on.
*There is no Facebook or Twitter in China. Not allowed. Spitting everywhere? Allowed. I was in a bank and CNN had an interview with a Google executive and the bottom of the screen said, "China: Horrendous Censorship policies". Felt a little weird seeing that there.
*I bought a fighter jet helmet. Rule #1: If you have a chance to get a fighter jet helmet, you buy it.