Today I probably qualified for the “weirdest foreigner in Shanghai” award – (非常奇怪 fēicháng qíguài).
I wandered through various shops and department stores bundled up in my thick winter overcoat and scarf and at least 10 other layers of clothing trying to find a swimming costume. Outside, yesterday’s snowfall still covers the ground and an icy wind sends leaves and people scurrying between the buildings. But tomorrow we are heading to Thailand in search of the sun and a beach and an ocean, so I need alternative clothing. The shop assistants looked at me in amazement and with some degree of concern for my apparent loss of sanity. “You do know that it is winter, don’t you” their body language and facial expressions said it all. “We don’t sell swimming costumes in the winter”.
Eventually I found a sports shop that had some costumes with a relatively “beachy” vibe. So off I ventured into a tiny changing cubicle (sized for the average Chinese woman, who is clearly much smaller than I am) and had to extricate myself from under the aforementioned 10 layers of clothing to try on the unseasonal garment. Success – it fitted – but then I had to reverse the unlayering exercise before I could climb out of the pocket-sized capsule. Fortunately there were a few less head-shakings after I had explained my holiday plans.