Wow, what a weekend it has been! Shanghai
has become one of my new favorite cities. Whereas Beijing
can be described as very "Chinese," Shanghai has a much more modern, Western feel, and displays one of the world's most beautiful skylines. It was the first time I had seen a blue sky in a while, and the cleanliness of the city was very impressive to me. They speak their own dialect in Shanghai, but most everyone also speaks Mandarin; the people tend to have a superiority complex with regards to the rest of China, so they will know when you're from out of town. If I ever come back to China as a businessman, I want to live in Shanghai.
where the CCP was founded
Granted, its the most expensive place to live in China (some high end items and venues surpass New York prices), but the clean modern atmosphere reminds me a lot of Midtown Atlanta.
Immediately following our difficult manufacturing test Thursday afternoon, Troy, Thomas, Charlie, and I headed for the Beijing railway station. We had tickets for a private car on the nice overnight Z-series train. After two hours of travelling, by cab, subway, and foot, we finally made it to the enormous and lavishly decorated train station. We got there in just enough time to board the train and get settled into our compartment. It was nice, almost like a mini hotel room! there were two beds up high, two down low, and a table in the middle. Very comfy too. We were able to head down to the dining car, have good food and beer, and then relax and sleep in the room until it arrived in Shanghai at around 7am the next morning.
me & Charlie
I must say, it was one of the best nights of sleep I have had in China! My nagging cough was also beginning to subside, thank God.
Fortunately, we were able to find our hostel very quickly upon arrival (via subway and a walk through an interesting alleyway) and even got to check in on the spot. During my shower, I noticed that the water in Shanghai was not as "hard" as the water in Beijing, and felt much more refreshing. We then decided to explore parts of the city, and made our way over to the building in which the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) was founded. Although most of the museum was in Chinese, it was pretty interesting. Perhaps the funniest thing that morning was the numerous number of comments on the street Thomas and Troy were getting about their Tsinghua T-shirts.
Apparently going to school there is like a rock star status symbol or something! Many people walked by very impressed and whispering about it to the person next to them. I gotta get me wanna dem shirts! Afterward, we had a nice, albiet expensive lunch in a nice area near the water. And before I go on, I'll give a brief background regarding the city's layout. The western half, Pushi, contains more of the old buildings and residences. Across the river, on the eastern side, is Pudong
, where all of the new skyscrapers are located. That's a very generalized description, but it will suffice for the sake of this travel blog.
After lunch, we decided to go to the Yu Gardens. The area around it is built with traditional Chinese architecture, and is basically a big mall where people sell souveniers and fake goods to tourist.
near the Yu Gardens
It was a pretty cool atmosphere, and the gardens inside were pretty sweet also. I got some cool pics with the big dragon statue overlooking one of the walls. We then met up with Troy's friend from high school, Chen Chen, who happened to be studying at Fudon, a good college in Shanghai. She took us around to some cool shopping areas before we came back to the hostel to shower up and go out for July 4th! Unfortunately, I don't bring my camera out at night (since I worry about both losing it and the fact that it is a pain in the butt to have in my pocket at the club), but I can give a few highlights. We went to eat at a bar/restaurant that served Western food, and I was able to have some American favorites such as nachos, a bacon cheesburger, and lots of cheap beer. Perfect for celebrating the birth of my country! We then met up with more of Chen Chen friends at the Bund, an area on the river where you can see all the lights and the beautiful skyline of Pudong.
East meets West
A gorgeous sight (I kinda wish I had my camera at this point). Interestingly enough, Chen Chen's Korean friend brought a black guy named will with her, who was actually a Tech grad from 2003 currently working in Korea. Small world! Will was a cool guy, and we even got to hang out with him the next night. After the Bund, we went for drinks and ice cream at an Italian bar, and then proceeded to Windows, a semi-outdoor club recommend by Chen Chen. We were able to meet up with a lot of the rest of the Beijing-Singapore group there, and everyone had a blast.
The next morning began a little late, but the four of us staying together went out for lunch at a great pasta place near our hostel, and then headed to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum in Pudong. It was a really hot day, above 90 degrees! The building was really cool-looking from the outside, as far as museums go, but the inside was just OK in my opinion.
picking the pearl out of its mouth
I think I've seen better science and tech exhibits in American museums. But we did get to see a movie in the IMAX 3D theater, and that was pretty cool. It was about dinosaurs. I'm not sure of the exact story, since it was in Chinese, but the 3D effects were pretty cool. I was also able to sneak in a nice nap there. By the time we got back to the hostel, it was time to shower up and get ready for round #2! I finally got to meet up with Tyler Howell, a fellow Delta Chi who is currently on the Shanghai study abroad program. He took a bunch of us out to this cool Japanese restaurant, where we got all-you-can-eat sushi and all-you-can-drink beer and sake for less than US$15! The seats were even sunken into the floor in a tatami mat room (we had to take off our shoes). Definitely a cool experience.
skyline from tech museum
The group then headed to a club called Bon Bon, where we met up with all of the rest of the GT people and had a blast.
Sunday was another slow morning, and our visit to the first Pizza Hut in China for lunch made it even slower. The day was even hotter than the last. But the pizza was delicous and the dining experience was great for a Pizza Hut. It always kills me how run-of-the-mill American things become fancy overseas. The four of us then walked around a mall for a little while before decided to just go see a movie. We wanted to sit for a while! We decided to watch the new Will Smith movie, "Hancock," which was a decent movie about a superhero. It was pretty good - the standard Will Smith being a badass plot. We then meandered over to the Shanghai railway station, snacked on some KFC, and then boarded our Z-series train back to Beijing.
It was a pain in the butt rushing to class Monday morning straight from the train/subway/cab, but it was definitely worth spending a full three days in Shanghai. It is a place that I have promised myself I will visit again!