Lesson #3: How failure to consider history can ruin your day
During our time in China, much has been made of the death and devastation wrought by the Japanese during their occupation of the mainland from the 1930s through the end of World War II. Every official guide we’ve encountered has made at least one mention of something destroyed by the Japanese.
One bit of history they left out: The Manabe coffee-and-fast-food chain was founded in 1970 in Japan. After first expanding to Taiwan, the brand now boasts dozens of locations on mainland China, including nearly 30 in Shanghai, the newest of which opened this summer on the main Expo axis. This is where Annie and I rather randomly–and having not yet Googled the information I just relayed–chose to grab a quick cheap lunch.
It seemed like a good-enough idea at the time, as the place was packed with locals (or rather tourists from other parts of China-but far more local than us). The slimy spaghetti-like noodles and chewy meat-like meat product was never going to be a culinary highlight of our trip, but I was pretty certain the experience would begin and end there. (And in 1931, the Chinese thought Japan would be content with Manchuria.)
Unfortunately, what followed is a dark period that I can only refer to, forgive me, as the Poo Dynasty (19 August 2010 - 21 August 2010 A.D.). Fortunately, an invasion of Pepto eventually lead to its decline, and since history is written by the, ahem, victors, it need not be mentioned further.
But such is one of the wonders of international travel: a person with whom you can barely communicate puts something unrecognizable and mildly unappetizing in front of you, and, either before or after paying them, you input it directly into your system and wait to see what happens.