Blue skies smiling at us

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The Bund

After a long day in the airport (it seems as if all Chinese flights are obligated to be delayed). In there airport there were lights on the ground that indicated different directions. At first I thought these lights were pointing to the exit but then I realized there was no sense whatsoever in the direction in which they pointed. Strange airport.

We made our way to the people’s square in Shanghai. We then visited the Shanghai museum of boring art. There we saw some ming vases, coins, jade, and some calligraphy. We actually managed to spend an hour at the museum. There was one interesting exhibit of clothing styles in the various regions of China. We saw some Kazakh style clothes there. More interesting was a small boy who decided to throw his water bottle down the stairs repeatedly. I guess it was some sort of game but nobody stopped him, not even the people he chucked it at.

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Museum in Shanghai

We then went through a tunnel to the other side of the river to see the new part of Shanghai (with the tv tower). Everything on that side of the river was built after 1994 and it is very modern and fancy. We even saw an apple store. Shanghai is much cleaner than Beijing and the sky is actually blue here. It reminded Wes of Chicago but it reminded me of a clean NYC (which is I guess is Chicago after all). We took a walk on a circular promenade with great views of the skyscrapers. They are building a new skyscraper that will be done with three years. It will be the tallest in China. Lunch was forgettable, the restaurant was closing so I think we got the leftovers. We also saw our first church.

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We got dropped off at the hotel for a small break before heading out to dinner across the street. This time we were expected to select our own meal. This did not work out well – options included snakes and turtles. We ended up with about five dishes (including lotus!). I’m not sure if the Chinese think Americans all eat that much food but there is no way we could possibly even finish one dish let alone five. A cute little boy sat behind me and was too sky to say hello but his parents seemed to indicate he was happy to see the strange white people. After dinner, we wandered around the neighborhood but we were too afraid to cross the street so the walk wasn’t that long. (Still the cars are not orderly and they do not seem to stop for humans.) On the way back to the hotel we noticed that they have ear cleaning as a service in the barber shop, EWWW!

I woke up a few times during the night because the AC kept turning off.  It got sweltering in the room a few times.  Finally at about 7 I woke up for good.   The breakfast was surprisingly worse than the breakfast at the Beijing hotel.  It was mostly fried garbage and orange “juice” that was not at all real juice.

We then met up with our guide and he took us to a silk factory.  It was pretty neat.  They showed us all the stages of the silk worm and how they take the pupa and get the silk off of it.  They whirl it in some water to get ahold of the strand and then put it up through a loom type thing.  They then wrap several strands together to make a thread.  They showed us some of the stretching of the silk they do to make different things like blankets and other objects.  The process was fascinating and they let us try out a few of the steps.  We then were shown into the silk store where we bought a couple items and moved on.

George (the guide) then took us to Nanjing Road.  This was super exciting (sarcasm).  It was more or less Michigan Ave but slightly cheaper.  All the stores were modern western stores like Gap and Sephora.  We had a Starbucks and it mouthfelt pretty much the same.  They even still referred to the sizes as Tall and Grande…  We continued down the street where we saw a man in a bear costume.  Wesley tried to get me to have a picture taken with him but I wouldn’t because that wasn’t interesting to me. We saw another apple store along this street as well.

After killing an hour there we met with George and he took us to lunch.  It was at the Bund.  We ate some standard fried food and talked a little with two sets of Canadian couples that each had been on long extended tours of the Orient.  We finished our food and then took a walk on the Bund.  This was a nice riverside walk with an incredible view of the new downtown across the river.  We took a bunch of photos and discussed the history of the city with George.  We melted into puddles of flesh because the sun was so strong out.

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We then drove over to another little shopping place and shopped some more in a modern  old-fashioned looking area.  We had some ice cream at a Haagan Das as well.  This Haagan Das was super fancy.  It was a sit down restaurant and lounge.  We were seated and served glasses of water and given menues.  It was an extravagant experience.  The ice cream was pretty good too.

After killing 30 minutes there we hopped back in the van where we hit then end of Shanghai’s highlights.  The guide brought us back to the hotel to rest for about three hours.  I’m guessing that most groups spend a lot more time shopping at the modern places and this was meant to last until dinner time. Shanghai seems pretty uninteresting for the most part. The modern places are modern as in any other city and the old places have a very European feel. Shanghai really doesn’t feel like China at all.

Dinner was pretty decent.  It was a fair bit better than what we got yesterday, even though it was the same restaurant.  Wesley talked to George about getting some sweeter lotus root and he was able to locate it on the menu.  Wesley ate all of it and was happy.  We went for a short walk over to the soccer stadium and ran into a large scale grocery store for the first time while in China.

Click here for all of our pictures.

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