Shanghai, a wonderfully poluted city...yet wonderful all the same

Shanghai Travel Blog

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Look at all the people!!

5/24/2006

7:43 PM

 

Now we are all in the airplane on the way to Shanghai. I believe the airline we are using is China Eastern. It is really nice. There is a lot of leg room and even though it is only a two hour flight they served us dinner, and the food was pretty good. I had rice and beef. I almost like this airline better than United. The only things I could complain about is that the seats are not quite as big as United’s, and the tray tables do not slide forward when you bring them down, so I have to lean really far forward to eat and write.

Jin Mao tower
It is really hurting my back.

We only had one scare on the flight, and that really was only because we were not expecting it. When we were taking off all seemed to be going normally until we actually left the ground. When the Chinese take off they go straight up. I swear, we were all talking about it and we all felt like we were in a space ship heading for space. We went straight up into the air. I felt like I was lying down in my seat. I was looking straight up and could see the front of the plane. Once you get over the initial shock it was actually really fun.

 

5/25/2006

6:35 AM

 

All I can say is “I am not happy.

Walking to the shopping center
” We arrived at our hotel late last night. The lobby of this hotel is big and beautiful and very impressive. We all got checked in and went to our rooms. However, our keys would not work. We tried them a bunch of different times before we were finally able to get in. That should have been a sign right there of what lay ahead. Everything is gross and disgusting and dirty. The carpet has stain spots all over it. The worst part was we found stains on Kassy’s sheets. We did not want to sleep under the sheets. Then when we did get in bed we found that the bed was as hard as wood or stone. We might have been more comfortable sleeping on the floor, except that was more stained than the sheets. However, I was so tired I basically passed out and did not wake up till morning. When I did get up I had such back and shoulder pain I couldn’t stand it. It hurt so badly. When I went to take a shower I found the tub part of it so narrow I had to stand with my feet pressed together. Then I looked over and saw that the shower curtain was so dirty I did not feel like the shower was making me clean. The only good thing I could say about the shower was that it had really good water pressure, but that was counteracted by the fact that the water smelled.
The shopping center
I will say it again, “I am not happy.”

 

5/25/2006

8:25 AM

 

This morning is really not going very well. I think most of it is because I am so tired of moving constantly. I don’t want to slow down though. After I finally got ready this morning Kassy and I went down to breakfast when we saw one of the guys in my business group in his suit. I was dressed casual because that is what they told me we were wearing last night.

Dumplings. Yumm
So I had to run back up to my room and change. Our converter broke so I have to find someone who will lend me theirs to charge my camera.

For some reason I can’t stop thinking about Grandma. Wondering if she is alive or not. I have been trying to call dad last night and this morning but our phone won’t let me. It makes me so sad.

 

5/25/2006

11:35 AM

 

So my first stop was the 4th tallest building in the world.

Shopping in the Yu (you) Gardins
The Jin Mow Tower. It was really cool. We went to the 88th floor where the observation deck is. Before we went into the tower our group split up. I am with the business group. We went to the tower while the MAC group went to the University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The view from the top of the tower was great, but it could have been better. The pollution here is not as bad as in Beijing, but it is bad and it is overcast so the tops of a lot of the buildings are hidden.

After going to the observation deck we had a meeting with a Sinochem. This is a company that is one of the world’s largest chemical shipping companies.

Ella a Chinese student took Kassy, Diane and Me shopping.
It is the 4th largest oil shipping company; they are also one of the leading producers of rubber and fertilizer. I have a brochure that lists their major products. This company is all over the world and the profits they make each year is amazing. It was a very good and interesting meeting.

So far, the day is beginning to look up. I have promised myself that I am going to do my best to stop complaining or even thinking about the hotel.

 

5/25/2006

5:14 PM

 

We went to the museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine at the University. I find that kind of thing very interesting. However, the tour was pretty bad. None of the tour guides spoke English. One of the guys in our group was born in Beijing and so he is fluent in Chinese, volunteered to translate for them. It worked a little bit, but because there was medical terminology and other things like that it was very hard for him to translate. He did not know how to translate it into English. I had wanted to buy a book on Chinese medicine, but everything was in Chinese so it would have been very hard to understand. I did buy a finger massager. It is really neat. It is like a ring that expands. It has prongs that stick out of it at all angles and you run it up and down your finger. It fees incredible. The neat thing about it is that each finger is like a trigger for an organ in your body, such as the liver or heart. For example, by massaging the left index finger it is supposed to be good for your heart and make it healthier.

By the time we finished the tour we were an hour late for lunch. We were supposed to meet up with the other group and have lunch together, but by the time we got to the restaurant they had all finished eating. They had to wait for us to finish though because we were all to leave together. Oh, I forgot to mention that it was raining when we left the museum and has been pouring ever since.

After eating the plan had been to go to this famous area that is all shopping. We got there, and not many people wanted to shop because it was raining really hard and there would be a lot of walking around outside. So we decided to not shop and we went to the Shanghai Museum instead. It was interesting, but I find most museums kind of boring. So Kassy and I went into some of the exhibits (the Jade, Calligraphy, Statues, and Clothing exhibits) then decided we were done and headed down to the gift shop. I bought a simple but beautiful painting. For mom, dad, Phillip, and me, I bought our names written in Chinese. Then on the back it tells what the symbol means. It was really nice. It was not until after I bought them that I realized that my name was spelled wrong. It was spelled Kimberley. I don’t think anyone spells Kimberly like that. I have seen it other ways but not that way. The Chinese are a little messed up. Oh well, It really is not that big a deal.

 

5/25/2006

9:40 PM

 

I have just seen the most amazing show of my entire life. We went to the Shanghai Acrobatic Show. I don’t even know how to describe it. I bought postcards (not to send) with pictures of the show on them, and a book with more. I was bummed that we were not allowed to take pictures, but after it started I could really understand how the flash might endanger someone. They were crawling all over each other, bending in unnatural positions, balancing all sorts of things on different body parts. My favorite performance was with two people all dressed in white, a man and woman. It was so beautiful. I think the image we were supposed to get was that they were making love. The music was beautiful, and live. The couple was kind of dancing. There were two big long flowing ribbons that came down on a cable and the couple would wrap it around a part of their body, then they would swing through the air one person hanging without a rope or anything. It was so beautiful.

The last performance of the night was they had a big cage ball and a man rode around inside it on a motorcycle. It was really cool. I had seen things like it on TV, but this was real!! I thought it was amazing. Then the next thing I knew another person on a motorcycle joining him in the cage. Then another, and another. In the end there were 8 motorcycles in that cage. They were making all kind of incredible patterns, and the lighting being projected on the stage and the backs of the bikes made it all look like some kind of Si Fi thing. The whole time I was afraid that something bad was going to happen. Of course it didn’t.

The other cool performances were done by a group of people who acted like they were having a gang fight. They set of these hoops that the gangs jumped through and did all kind of flips. One man jumped 15 feet and flipped through the hoop. Then they made the hoops revolve and a bunch of them jumped through at the same time. Then later they brought out something like a seesaw and a big platform. Then someone would stand on one end of the seesaw and another would jump on the other end from the platform flinging the other person into the air where they did all kinds of flips and landed on a big bull’s eye. Then they came out again and did more flips on two big trampolines. There was so much more also, but I just can’t explain it all. After it was over I felt exhausted. It was so amazing though. I am so happy I got the opportunity to go.

 

5/26/2006

8:00 AM

 

Last night after we got back to the hotel I was finally able to call my dad. It was nice to talk to him, but I found out that my Grandma had passed away. I cried for a while, but this is so much better for her. I feel better now too, knowing that she is in a better place and I can enjoy the rest of my trip without constantly wondering how she is. When I woke up this morning I had really ugly bags under my eyes.

Kassy and I went down to breakfast kind of early. There was nothing there that looked at all like I could eat it except the watermelon, but I can’t eat watermelon without a benadryl. That would just make me really sleepy and I can’t do that with everything we have to do today.

So we had about ½ hour before we had to meet in the lobby, so Kassy and I went for a walk down the street from the hotel. It is so comfortable outside. It is cool and there was nice breeze. We found a pastry shop we might go back to later. There are people all over the sidewalks. Lots of them are making breakfasts that smell incredible on little carts. I think we might make a habit of getting up a little earlier everyday to go for a walk.

 

5/26/2006

6:35 PM

 

I am going to have a lot to write here because I have not written all day. The first stop we made was to the U.S. Consulate where we had a meeting with a man who works in the chamber of commerce. He talked about his job (which is helping businesses find someone to work with to get their business started in China) he also gave us tips about what to do if we wanted to take or build our business in China. He was very interesting and funny. He made a presentation that could have been boring very amusing. He is originally from New York so it was easy to understand him because he had no accent.

After that meeting we went to Starbucks because it was in the same building. I got a hot chocolate. It was really good. It actually tasted a little bit different than home, but I think that could be because they used different milk, maybe they used 2% instead of whole or something like that.

  Next we went to the Yu (you) Gardens. There really is no garden. It is a big shopping area. Here we met with some students from Pudong University. They all had very good English so it was easy to have a good time. They came to take us shopping. We split up into small groups and each group had a guide. I was with Kassy and Diane. Diane is one of the older women in our group, but she is really nice and fun to be around. So we were together with our guide. Her name is Ella. OH MY GOSH!! She is the sweetest girl ever. We all loved her and we wanted to take her home with us. She is so upbeat and excited about being with us that it made us excite to be with her. She took us around some of the shops and helped us bargain for things by translating for us. She would also tell us the meanings of things that we were interested in buying. You can not really make a direct translation of Chinese into English so she would make up a story to help us understand the meaning. She was just so wonderful I miss her right now. After we met up with everybody else we took our pictures of ourselves with her. (I don’t understand why the Chinese and Japanese always make the peace sign with their fingers when they are having their picture taken. They do it at school in Washington too). Then we gave her our email addresses and she will email us once she gets an address. I am going to send her copies of the photos we took. I really think she would like them.

After leaving the shopping area (the students with us) we went to another place that was all old buildings, but they were filled with different restaurants, most of them Bistro style, it had all different nationalities of food. For a while we just walked around with Ella looking at the buildings and listening to her imaginings of what it used to be like there. The tour company gave everyone 100 yen to buy or own dinner so the four of us chose a little restaurant that had big squishy chairs. We ordered a small Hawaiian pizza and a hamburger and split it between the 4 of us. It was really good. I liked having a break from the Chinese food. I like the food here but most of it is fried and real heavy and a lot of it has a ton of soy sauce. I don’t like a lot of soy sauce so I really needed a break. After we finished eating we went back to the hotel. Then we had to say good buy to our wonderful Ella. I am really going to miss her so I hope she gets an email account soon so I can keep in touch. It has been a very good day.

 

5/26/2006

10:20 PM

 

We just did the coolest thing. Kassy, Diane and I walked down the street from our hotel to a pastry shop. We bought a really great cake like thing that we ate when we got back to the hotel, but we also bought some pastries to eat tomorrow. That was not the cool part though. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at this small clothing store to look at the clothes displayed in the window. Then one of the ladies that worked there came out and ushered us inside. It was neat because as soon as we got inside they gave us a once-over then they were pointing out clothes they thought would be good for us. Kassy who is really tall, beautiful and skinny ended up buying one of the shirts they handed to her. While she was trying it on they were showing me different clothes. They did not speak any English, but I kind of felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when those people in the stores were dressing her up. The women were so nice and when Kassy came out to show us the shirt they were “Oohing” and “Awing” right along with us. I did not buy anything. Kassy speaks Chinese because she was a translator of sorts in the army. She told us later that the women had been exclaiming to each other about how cute we were. I guess if you were to translate it literally they were saying “what little foreigners.” I had so much fun in there. It was an awesome experience. We might go back to that store once more before we leave.

 

5/29/2006

8:15 AM

 

Last night was a blast. It started out at dinner. We had a student from St. Martin’s who is doing an internship here come have dinner with us. He has been here in Shanghai for 2 months already so he was telling us all kinds of stories. Dinner was really good because Alex (our tour guide) took pity on us and bought us Pizza Hut. So everyone got one slice of pizza. Then we still had Chinese food. After dinner we were all talking about how we need to find and ATM. So Mike (the student) took us all to this place that is kind of like Wal-Mart, but even cheaper if you can imagine that. So we all got some cash then wandered around the store because one person needed a memory card (which he got for only $15 and it was the same one he bought at home for $80) A couple other people bought small suitcases because the ones they brought are not big enough to carry their luggage and the things they bought. I was able to restrain myself and did not buy anything. We took a taxi there and back, it was really cheap and kind of fun, and the drivers are crazy so it was a little scary too. It was just really fun hanging out.

When we got back to the hotel 4 of us went and got massages. It felt so good. It was very deep. Mom would have really like that pressure. Dad would not have been able to stand it. We paid 100 Yen for an hour full body message. That is just about $12. It was so good I might have liked it a little bit softer, but I didn’t ask and I felt so good when they were done. I did wake up with a bruise on my lower back though. The girls who did them actually came down to our rooms and did it on our beds. That was kind of nice but very unexpected. The girls were so tiny though, I had no idea their small hands could produce that much pressure. They were really sweet too. They talked just about the whole time. I guess that is what is done here. It is ok to talk. Kassy speaks Chinese so she had a full hour conversation with them. She let me know what they were all talking about and so I could keep up. The lady messaging me spoke a little English so she did her best to speak in English and include me. I had complemented her on her English and later Kassy told me she was really pleased that I had because it made her feel good that she was able to use her English on me and I could understand her since it was the only way we could communicate. Then that made me feel good.

After they left the room I called mom and we talked for a few minutes. Then I did some packing and went to bed and fell instantly asleep. Now I am on the bus on the way to the airport. Our group has split up so there are very few of us. We are only business students now. We are going to Guangzhou. The other group will stay in Shanghai for a while longer and we will all meet up in Hong Kong later. I think overall I was not all that impressed with Shanghai. It is cleaner than Beijing, and the city itself is much more impressive, but I think the reason I did not like it as much was because we did not have very good tour guides. The guide who we all thought was supposed to be the leader was almost never with us. He left us with some students who did next to nothing. They would take us places, but they would not tell us what it is and the history. In Beijing Ally knew everything. She was always talking telling stories of the history and we always knew at the end of the day what we were going to do the next day. In Shanghai no one ever told us what we were going to do. It was very frustrating because we could not prepare ourselves, and the hotel in Shanghai was really crappy. I did get used to it after a while. I am glad to be moving on.

 

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Look at all the people!!
Look at all the people!!
Jin Mao tower
Jin Mao tower
Walking to the shopping center
Walking to the shopping center
The shopping center
The shopping center
Dumplings. Yumm
Dumplings. Yumm
Shopping in the Yu (you) Gardins
Shopping in the Yu (you) Gardins
Ella a Chinese student took Kassy,…
Ella a Chinese student took Kassy…
Shanghai
photo by: Chokk