I touched down around 11am I was off to the high speed rail to get into the city. My big backpack got flagged going through the conveyor belt and I had to step aside so they could search it. My bag is the kind that only opens through the top. So if you want to get something at the bottom of it, you have to take everything in the top out first. That’s why I’m kind of particular about how I pack it. So I start pulling out clothes and clothes and more clothes. She motions to keep going. I’m just yanking everything out of my bag and dumping it all over the counter. Finally I get to the bottom which is just my camping equipment. She motions for me to keep going. At this point I’m pretty steamed, and take the rest of my bag and dump in on the floor. She runs the backpack back through the machine and looks around confused because apparently she can’t find what she’s looking for. I have no idea what she’s looking for. So I’m like really, REALLY?? in Chinese. She then starts running through my 2 pouches of camping crap and triumphantly pulls out a pocket knife. Got me. Security saves the day! Shanghai 1 Adam 0.
I have to then repack all my stuff and eventually meander over to the high speed rail. The thing is pretty sweet! It goes over 300 km/hr (200 mph) and takes you from the airport to close to downtown in 8 minutes. You are flying on this thing. It’s the first enjoyable part of this trip so far! Wooo. After taking a different train I emerged from the subway and was greeted with the best kind of weather. Cold rain! After a quick slog to the hostel and lecture on not emailing for being a no show I was given a bed and it was nap time!
I had a chance to wander around that night when the rain turned into a light drizzle. The skyline is fantastic! The Oriental Pearl building is quite the sight. I think we need more buildings purely for show! It stands along with all the other newish skyscrapers that dot the downtown across the river. Our side of the river (called the Bund) is made up of old European style buildings, which look a bid odd in China! The drizzle also made for some interesting photos with all the reflections and all the umbrellas everywhere. It was a good night, except it even though my camera was originally waterproof, it apparently is not anymore, as some of the electronics got messed up. It’s still usable, but now I have to navigate everything through the lcd screen, which sucks and makes it much more difficult to change settings quickly. More challenges!!
The next day I had a little tour all planned out by a friend of a friend who lives near Shanghai, named Amanda, who offered to show me around. I was expecting just her and a friend so I was a little surprised when it was four girls who showed up the next morning. Okay by me! We started by going back to the Bund to take some skyline photos, which looked pretty abysmal in the cloudfog. After that is was off to the park and the historic Chinatown. We went to a steamed bun place for lunch, which was delicious, although I forgot to take photos. They paid the bill when I went to the bathroom, those sneaky girls. I protested, but I knew it was useless. The Chinese are always very hospitable to their guests.
So we wandered around a bit more, lost one of the girls, and lo behold she shows up with tickets to the ancient Chinese history/buildings tour. After we finished that one of them distracted me with cookies and then Amanda magically reappears with tickets to the temple. They seriously have this stuff down to an art. You don’t even get the chance to offer to pay for anything. It’s already too late!
At this temple you can pray to different Gods for things like children, power, love, money, etc. I was suggested to go with the two single girls to the love god, so I tagged along. I couldn’t help but notice the one in her late 20’s was taking her bows very seriously! You don’t want to be single and a woman approaching 30 in China!
For dinner they made reservations for us at one of the most popular hot pot places in the city. The place was massive; you could get lost walking through it. It’s been a few years since I’ve had hot pot, so I was pretty excited. For those that don’t know what hot pot is, it’s just boiling broth that you throw in whatever food you want to cook. It normally has a spicy side and a non-spicy side. I sat on the spicy side. We ordered tons of stuff, veggies, quail eggs, tofu, sliced beef, sliced lamb, pork on the bone, even pig brain! Only one of the girls likes pig brain, but she REALLY likes it, so we ordered it. I’ve had it before and I agreed to have some too. It’s soft and kind of melts in your mouth and does a good job taking on the flavor of the broth. It’s only gross when you really think about it. You’re eating brains!! Ewwww.
So this hot pot was like a two hour event. All these girls are pretty small, but they weren’t eating like it! I was impressed. After we finally finished we agreed to call it a night. They had to drive two hours to get home and had work the next morning. I tried again to help pay for the bill, but no, no, no, wasn’t happening. Anyway it was pretty awesome of them to drive all the way out to Shanghai and show me around and treat to everything. These are people I’ve never even met before!!
Well I had one last day to do some more wandering and check out the downtown area, and then that was it was it for Shanghai and China! It was good to be back! Just need to brush up a bit more on my Chinese next time!