Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving in Shanghai

Shanghai is awesome! We had a great time and really look forward to going back. The city is busy and bustling although in many ways Paul and I agreed that is reminded us both of Houston in some ways. We arrived in Shanghai about 8:15 local time and had an hour taxi ride to the hotel in the city. The best part of the taxi ride was when the driver started the meter a little "ding, ding, ding" came on followed by a lady with a British accent saying, "Welcome to take my taxi." Too funny! The taxi drivers in Shanghai all sit behind a plexiglass wall deal. Not sure why as there does not seem to be a major need for it, but it did make paying, showing the map, and comunicating more difficult. The hotel where we stayed was really great too. It was located right in town and made walking places quite easy. It was like an little apartment with a living area, small kitchen space, and a bedroom with a bath. It was really cool. So here we were in a great hotel, in a bustling city that is located in communist was hard to believe. Our room was on the top floor of the hotel which made the view really nice. JoAnn and I rested while Paul and Tim went on an adventure to find food. Imagine that!

All four mornings we had breakfast at the hotel. It was good, but not great. This first day we just walked around most of the day looking around and taking in the city. Paul and I bought tickets to see the Chinese acrobats later that evening, but until then we just wandered. We walked through People's Square and then through a park. Here is where Paul got chatted up by some Chinese Nationals. It was wild. Then we found a Chinese restaurant for lunch. We ordered all sorts of dumplings. We had BBQ steamed pork buns, shrimp dumplings, shrimp and veg, sesame ones, some chicken spring rolls, and Paul and Tim tried some chicken feet. The dumplings were good. My favorite were the BBQ steamed pork buns. Tim and JoAnn were headed to a cooking class and Paul and I had lots of time before we had to make our way to the theater. We got an hour long foot massage at a little shop we found. It was awesome and ONLY cost $4 for each of us. Yes, that is correct $4 US for an hour foot massage. It was so great! After the massage Paul and I had dinner at a little Italian place we found that made home made pasta. YUM! It was the best Italian. Paul and I ordered carpaccio, gnocchi with spinach and ricotta, and some cheese ravioli. It was delicious! We wanted to order dessert too, but ran out of time. Off to the acrobats! The show was good. They are quite talented although I feel as if my standard has been set quite high after seeing two Cirque du Soleil shows. It was fun though and cultural too. Paul and I opted to walk the 16 blocks home to the hotel after the show. The weather was gorgeous there. Cool and comfortable.

Friday morning after breakfast we made our way to the Science and Technology Museum. We took the subway there and then went shopping. One of the parents in my classroom had told us about this market that is underneath the museum. We went for it and it was quite the experience to say the least. Loads of people saying, "Hello. Watch, Bag?" and pushing into you. Not much fun after a while. It got to the point that JoAnn was saying, "Watch, Bag?" right back at them which made us all laugh. We did make some purchases, but in China you must bargain. The initial price they offer is WAY too much to pay. You usually counter-offer with at least half or 75% less than the price they give you. If they say no you attempt to walk out of the store and they will beg and plead and then take your offer. It is quite the experience. Paul decided that he loved it, so I would let him do all the wheeling and dealing. I got a cashmere scarf, we each got North Face jackets and some video games. Wild stuff I tell you. If you go to China you must go shopping at least once if not more. It is fun and quite the ordeal. We took a break for coffee and steamed pork buns. Then we walked to the Bund area for afternoon tea. That was fun too. Free Flow tea and all the little snackey like food you can eat. I had many little bowls, plates, adn cups of little bits. After tea we hiked back to the hotel for a rest before dinner. JoAnn and Paul played video games while I rested with a little nap. Tim watched TV. We took Tim and JoAnn to the Italian restaurant from the night before. Yum Yum Yum! Paul and I ordered tiramisu for dessert this time. It was delicious.

Saturday we had a light snack for breakfast and made our way to the City Diner for breakfast. It was really cool. A 24 hour diner and the food is great and they also had free wifi. We came to the conclusion that if we lived in Shanghai this place would be one of Paul's regular hang outs for work. :) Paul and I meandered through a English book store after breakfast and then we all went to the City Shop grocery store. We all walked up and down each aisle checking out what they had, what we might need or want, and what we would want to bring back with us. Paul and I did not get much--Splenda and an Izzi for me. No Izzi in Korea. It was really great. We took a taxi back to the hotel and rested again. We all sat around and I even took another nap. After resting we headed for the Old Town and Yuyuan Garden. That was really interesting. This area is what I had expected to see in China---lots of people, small spaces, very old looking and traditionally Chinese stuff. Old Town is lots of shops and pushy people selling their goods that still say, "Hello. Watch, Bags, DVDs?" It is really interesting. We made our way through to the garden where Paul and I took tons of pictures. The place is beautiful and peaceful. After leaving the garden, Paul and I got a silk, embroidered picture of summer. It is traditionally Chinese but really cool. After that we got in a taxi to go back to the hotel. We had pork steamed buns at this little hole-in-the-wall kind of place called "Happy Together". It was really good and SUPER cheap. For all four of us, it was only $10 US. We went back to the hotel to hang out again before going to dinner at a Szechuan restaurant that Tim read about it. That was incredible! We had dumplings and three different dishes of food. I stayed with the dumplings, but Paul, Tim and JoAnn ate duck, scallops and beef. The restaurant was all white with blue lights. They had a big reflection like pool that had small fish bowls on the surface. The best part for me was dessert. Deep fried bananas in caramel sauce. When the lady brought them to the table they were hot and gooey then she would take small bits with chopsticks and dip the piece into cold water where the caramel would harden. It was yummy good.

Sunday we got up, had breakfast, and then packed up our stuff. The last event of the trip was to take the Magnetic Elevated Train to the airport. We took a taxi to the MagLev station and then boarded the train when it arrived. It works on magnets and at top speed travels at 431 km/h. It was crazy. It took only 7 minutes and 21 seconds to get from the station to the airport. It was not as smooth of a ride as I thought it would be, but I have been in a train that travels REALLY fast so that is what matters.

Check out all our pics from the trip to in the My Photos section. :)


Jason Jones said...

AMAZING! Can't wait to see you guys and hear all about it in person!

Rick said...

They put those plexiglass things in the taxis in during 2003 because the drivers were worried about SARS. The first time I came here they didn't have them, then a few months later they all did.