Wednesday, December 24, 2008
China Trip Day 2 Part 1: Shanghai Sights
I set my alarm for 8am and that's when we got up. I didn't sleep very well and the noise the other 2 girls staying in our dorm room made when they woke up was very loud and I couldn't sleep. We went downstairs and got ourselves some of the comlementary breakfast. It considted of pork buns, veggie buns, fried bread, warm mild, some type of orange drink, cereal, toast, and oatmeal. I went for 2 pork buns, a fried bread, and some of the orange drink. It was okay. Better than most complementary breakfasts, that's for sure.

Once we finished up we went to the front desk to book tickets for an acrobatics show for later that evening. We were worried that there might no be a show due to it being Christmas eve and all, bu teverything was running like normal. The first show we wanted to see was already sold out even! So we decided to see another show recommended by the ticket booking person. When we asked how to get there, the person said to just take a cab. After that we found out about a free shuttle bus that runs formt he hostel to 3 of th emain city attractions so we waited for about 30 min and took the bus to Yuyan Garden.
We got off the bus in this little shopping district area, where all the stalls were selling Christmas goods! It made me feel a bit nestalgic for home. It's nice to see that at the very least, decorating for Christmas is alive and well in China!

It took us some time to figure out how to get to the Yuyan Garden from where the bus dropped us off at. To get to the garden you first have to walk through some old fashined streets with various stores. It's a really beautiful area. There are also a ton of food stalls so we grabed som xiaolongboa (aka. soup dumplings). They were tasty, cheap, and even came with a handy straw for getting the soup out of the bun. After wandering around the bazzar area, which for a while we had mistaked for the actual garden itself, we finally found a sign that helpfully pointed us in the right direction.

Right before entering the garden, we ran across a rather politiacally correct shop selling its very own, Obama t-shirt and I couldn't pass up the photo opportunity. Then we paid the garden entrance fee and promptly got lost. However, in this case, getting lost was a good idea. The garden was gorgeious and I highly recomend going for a visit if you're ever in Shanghai.

I really loved all the crazy rock formations in particular. They made for some great pictures. The doorways were also quite unique. They were all either circles or crazy vase-looking things. We also noticed a few sneaky pandas looking out at us from one of the buildings.......

Afterward we wanted to go see the Shanghai Museum, said to be one of the best museums in all of China. We sort of got lost trying to find the metro and kept getting attacked by people wanting to sell us bags and watches. A few were even just flat out begging and one grabbed onto my jacket but Janet yelled at him in Chinese and he ran off. At least the place we were lost in was really pretty. We also ran acroos this cool tree filling with red lanterns.

Eventaly we caved and just took a taxi. The museum was really nice and and it was free! You can't complain about that. My favorite exhibits were the jade carvings and statues. The lonely planet says to be prepared to spend half a day at the museum but we were done in about 2 hours.

Then we wandered into People's Square and chated wsith 3 students from Xinh, which we were ehaded to the next day. Sadly, the were trying to scam us. I read about this scam before coming to China. Some English speaking students will come up and chat with you and hen ask you out for some tea. Sounds like a nice and innocent thing to do, yes? The problem is that the bill for the tea comes to around $200-$300US dollars. So we turend them down on their offer of tea and decided to make our way to the Bund, a huge shopping district.

We walked around and ran into a Uniqulo. We stoped by and I ended up getting a few of the special heat saver tops and pants. I felt a bit weird shopping at a Uniqulo in China, given that its a such a popular Japanese company and brand. However, I really like Uniqulo and a lot of the stores in Japan were sold out of the heat saver clothes. I amost felt lucky to be able to find some! We walked around some more and caught a glimsp of the Jinmao Tower. One of Shanghai's most impressive modern structures. We wanted to climb to the top of the tower and check out the view, but the tower was on the other side of a huge river and we didn't have time to cross it. I did get some amazing pictures of the skyline. But, as with almost all of the pictures I took in China, the beauty is somewhat mared by the fact that you can clearly see the pollution in the photo. Often times it just shows up as a slightly gray muck, but in the skyline photos, you can literally draw a line at where the pollution starts. Crazy!

Next it was time for dinner and we were sort of in a rush, so we found a random department store and walked into the first nice looking restaurant that we saw. And boy were we lucky! It was just a random place in some shopping center, but the food turned out to be amazing. The decore was really squanky too. Our meal consisted of mayonase and mustard sushi, spicey meatballs, eggplant, and fried mushrooms.

After dinner we walked around the bund a bit more and then decided it was time to take a cab to the acrobatics show that we booked earlier that morning. This proved to be easier said than done. We couldn't find a cab to save our lives. The show started at 7pm and we started looking for a cab at 6. Never managed to find one. They were either already full, woudn't stop, or, for the one cab that did stop, didn't know where the place was even though we had a card with the address and a map in Chinese. Eventually we found a taxi stand at a nearby upscale hotel and just decided to test out luck and stand in line. As we were waiting, one of the valets came over to help us. He told us that it would be way faster to take the metro and told us how to get to the nearest station and what line we would need to take. He was sort of right. We got off at the metro really close to where the show was, but couldn't find it. Even with the map and asking about 4 or 5 people. After some perssistant walking around in circles we managed to find it down some random street off the main steet we were trying to find it on. And luckily we only missed 1 or 2 of the mini acts.

When we first sat down I was very unpleased. I couldn't see most of the stage due to the head of the guy in front of me. But after a while, the group sitting in the seats next to us got up a left, so we just moved into their seats. My favorite acts were 2 dancers using long silk threads who were spinning around and doing stunts. I also really enjoyed the giant cage of doom at the end of the show that had 5 motorcycles rding around in it. Overall though, the show was fairly disappointing and rather unspectacular. I really wish we could have got tickets to the show we actually wanted to see.

After the show we were both pretty tired and took the metro back to the hostel. And that pretty much ends our time in Shanghai. We managed to fit in 4 of the top 5 sights in Shanghai all in one day. Not bad at all. Go us!

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