Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Shortly after Christmas, Li Du had to board the plane towards Philadelphia.
The auction at Green Delaware Museum would start very soon and he did not have much time to waste. Hence, he did not spend time socializing or bring along other treasure hunters with him.
His destination was Philadelphia – that was one of the most important cities in American history.
Located in the southeastern part of Pennsylvania, the city was at the heart of the Delaware Water Gap Metroplex. East of the city reached the Delaware River, and the west stretched up to the Schuylkill River. It was one of the oldest and most historically important places in the United States.
As many people knew, Philadelphia played an important role in the fight for independence. However, few were aware of its degree of importance in the 1790s to the early 1800s. Before Washington, D.C., Philadelphia had been the capital of America!
Prior to the War for Independence, North America had belonged to the British Empire. At that time, Philadelphia was in a better position. It was the second largest city in the British Empire, eclipsed only by London.
In the end, however, the city became the heart of the rebellion against British colonial rule. The local industrial facilities built by Britain formed the strong backbone of the Washington Army’s anti-colonial war.
Li Du had never been to Philadelphia before, but he was no stranger to the city. He had been to New York many times, and New York was known as the “elder brother” of Philadelphia. The two cities were no more than one hundred miles apart.
Of course, the people in Philadelphia did not accept New York’s relative position as the “elder brother.” Before the 19th century, New York had been a small developing city that was trailing behind Philadelphia. At that time, Philadelphia was the center of America’s culture, business, and industrial exchange.
Li Du had prepared himself by learning and understanding the local history, economy, and cultural practices before joining the warehouse auction. That could help him recognize and evaluate the items in the warehouses.
After the plane landed, Li Du rented an R-class Mercedes at the car rental company next to the airport. It was an MPV and had enough seats to fit his group.
Now that he had arrived at the famed historical city, Li Du had to explore the area.
When Driver got in the car, he said lazily, “It’s dull to drive in Philadelphia. The roads here are straight and wide; there’s no challenge at all.”
Li Du smiled. “I hope that all the roads you will travel for the rest of your life will not be challenging.”
“Then the high salary you give me would be a waste for you.” Driver smiled.
Driver’s permanent residency in the United States had been established and made legal. However, he seemed indifferent to the change. After losing his son, he no longer seemed to have any enthusiasm for life.
The roads in Philadelphia were easy to travel. The road systems were well-developed, the street signs were clear, and the signs in the east-west direction of each street had names, while the north-south direction had numbers.
Hence, they would never have to worry about losing their way in Philadelphia.
It was still a learning experience for Driver, however. After all, the R-class Mercedes was an MPV. It was longer, measuring a total of more than five meters. Philadelphia, as one of the largest cities in the States, had heavy traffic. Therefore, although the roads were wide, there were still traffic jams.
However, Driver always seemed to be able to pass other cars, and his ability to spot an opportunity to squeeze in through the traffic was impressive.
Passing cars on the city highway was not an easy matter. People who did that were seen as rude. After all, they would have to change lanes to pass other cars.
However, that did not happen in Driver’s case. He always passed seamlessly, without a sound. They continued to speed on the road, maintaining the speed of 160 to 170 kilometers per hour on the highway.
The driver behind them noticed that. His car was a CRV, and its owner was clearly proud of its horsepower as he followed behind the MPV.
In the end, they had only been past two traffic junctions when they heard a “piang.” The CRV had crashed into a Cadillac!
Li Du did not make any command and Driver continued to speed until he reached Manayunk.
That was one of the remote areas in Philadelphia. It was situated in the north-west and was a high-density residential area. There were many small hills along the way, dotted with Victorian-style bungalows.
Li Du asked, “Why are we here?”
Chewing his gum, Driver said, “Lunch. They serve the traditional delicacies of Philadelphia here.”
Manayunk was a Native American word. It meant “the place where we drink.” Li Du did not know that and had expected that he would only look for restaurants to dine in after he arrived.
Obviously, Driver had thought about all that when they were on the road. Additionally, he knew Li Du very well and brought them all to food heaven.
The most famous food in Philadelphia was probably the local Philly Cheesesteak. Many shops sold such sandwiches, similar to how many shops in Beijing sold barbequed duck.
Such cheap food was famous all over the United States. Philadelphia people liked it very much. Every sandwich shop banked on the strategy of having loyal customers and hence, they would try their best to retain their regular patrons.
Once, there had even been a debate on sandwiches held in Philadelphia. The foodies would form groups and discuss their favorite sandwich shop. At the time, it had been reported, “The debate is extremely fierce, enough to stun the Bible scholars who debated on Deuteronomy.”
Driving into Manayunk, Driver suggested, “Let’s go to the place where vegans gather. I’ve checked on the plane, and that’s the most traditional, oldest restaurant in Philadelphia. There’s a food theme called, ‘Bring the Farm to the Tables.’ The ingredients are fresh and plentiful. They are all brought in from the farm.”
Li Du smiled and said, “No problem. Let’s go there.”
Just as its name suggested, Manayunk was indeed ‘The place where we drink.’ In the old residential area, it was crowded and people rubbed shoulders as they rushed in all directions. Thousands of people were looking for pubs and restaurants.
In the residential area, every table was occupied. The sky was still bright and the place was loud and chaotic.
It was hard to park the car in such a place. Most of the cars were moving just like them, driving slowly on the road, looking for a parking spot.
Most of the people who drove there were tourists. The locals would travel on bikes. There was a special lane by the river which was one of the rare bicycle trails in America. The scenic path was regarded as the holy grail of biking lanes for bike enthusiasts.
However, with Driver, Li Du did not have to worry about the problem of parking. Driver had an uncanny ability to spot opportunities and Li Du had full confidence in him.
The narrow roadside was full of parked cars. A pickup started to drive off, and drivers of the cars in front and behind all became alert, vying for that parking spot.
They were just about to go backwards to readjust their direction when Driver started to spin the steering wheel and changed gears rapidly. He sped up and drove the car to the empty spot at top speed, gaining it easily.
The front of the car turned a few times before the large-sized MPV was parked comfortably.
The owners of the surrounding cars wore a blank look on their faces. They had probably never seen someone snatching the parking space with such familiarity and swiftness.
One of the cars, a Toyota, belonged to a young, fit man. There were three people inside the car. Seeing that the MPV had snatched the parking space, they went mad. They pushed open their car doors, got out of the car, and pointed at Li Du’s vehicle. “F*ck you, are you blind? Didn’t you see that we already locked down this…”
The doors of the MPV sprang open too, and Li Du’s bodyguards filed out. They were all big-sized, tall and strong men. One of them looked as ferocious as Godzilla.
The young men from the Toyota went silent.