ni hao – part I

trip to china with arlie - this covers days 1 and 2

Day 1 – Flight and Arrival (Merry Xmas and Happy Chaunnukah)
Arrived after our 10 1/2 hour flight feeling super exhuasted. Both of us didn’t really sleep on the plane. It was about 11.15 am when we arrived. Going through customs was super fast and efficient and we had our bags in about 5 minutes which is also really quick. Went out to find a taxi. Taxi driver didn’t understand us so we had to have someone tell him where we were going.

Checked into the St. Regis hotel. Our room was super nice. Marble bathroom. Two double beds with comfortable looking pillows. Aero chair. Butler service. Free internet access. Whoohoo!

Then Arlie and I ran off to the Xiangchiang Fashion Market to get some knock-off goods. Wow – what an experience this was. We arrived in a cab and there were about 5 people standing outside of our taxi. As soon as we stepped out the door the attacks started. “Hey lady. You want Louie Vuitton? Hey lady. Come with me to warehouse.” And it didn’t stop. Seeing as how it is not really tourist season, they spotted us and kept coming. Basically the entire time Arlie and I walked around the market we had about 15 people going from shop to shop with us and standing outside waiting for us. It is quite intimidating especially when you are jetlagged and not in any mood to deal. This didn’t stop us from aquiring a few good looking bags and watches for bargain prices.

Came back to the hotel and went downstairs for 75 minute La Stone massages. MMMnnn. So good for jetlag. Then back to the room and ordered from room service. Passed out at 8 pm.

fake gucci
crap from the market

Day 2 – Wandering Around Shanghai
Woke up at 11.30 am. Wow. The St. Regis officially has the most comfortable hotel beds and darkest blackout curtains of any hotel ever. Seriously both of us slept really well. Ordered more room service for breakfast and headed out into the city for some siteseeing.

It was really cold outside. Arlie only brought a thin jacket so we had to buy a scarf. Got dropped on Nanjing road – the biggest shopping street in Shanghai. We wandered down the east end and up to the Huangpu river where we took some photos before heading back down the other side of the road on the West. Walked up to People’s Park then across the street and into some big building in search of food.

Ended up in a restaurant where we were feeling pretty comfortable with because the host spoke some English. Yeah right. We got the menu with pictures. Arlie started feeling nervous by things like dumplings with chicken intestine and frogs stew. We found some edible looking things and ordered by pointing and feeling quite stupid. I lucked out by ordering some green mint tea, but Arlie was stumped as there were no photos for Diet Coke so she ended up going thirsty. Food was good. Then the server attempted to rip us off for 100 rmb -but we caught it and did a lot of pointing and looking unhappy until they gave us our money back.

dim sum

Went back out into the cold again. And walked through People’s Park – which was partially under construction. It was a bit sad being winter because most of the park was dead and grey. There were some old men playing dominos or some game, but other than that it was pretty dead. However, I am always still in amazement of any park in set in the middle of a completely urban environment with highrises around it.

people’s park

After the park, we went in search of the Shanghai Museum. I thought I had seen a photo of it in Arlie’s guide so we went in the direction of that building. Turned out that I am illiterate and that was actually something else so we ended up wandering past the museum and then having to turn around and go back. Eventually we landed there with about 45 minutes until closing. According to our book we would need at least half a day to tour the entire museum, but being that we are speed sight-see’ers we decided we could do a quick run through.

First went to see the ceramics exhibit (for Mamma Fujie would be mad if we didn’t). It was amazing the age of the collection. We’re talking 3 A.D. stuff. In really good condition. Then we went to see the Jade collection, the furniture, seals and ended up in sculptures. We were a bit annoyed that the painting and jewelry exhibits were closed. The sculptures were my favourite bit. I really loved the 1000 Buddhas scupture. Awesome.

1000 buddhas

Overall impression of this first day was that Shanhai is an amazingly cosmopolitan city. Reminds me of New York with all the highrise buildings, but with a touch of Asia and Las Vegas thrown in there. Interesting that the fronts of buildings are so modern, but if you catch a glimpse occasionally down side streets you will see old world style ghettos lurking beneath the surface.

Other things to note:

  • People spit all the time – everywhere. And not little spitty spits, but full on whopping snot infested from the lung complete with hacking cough and phlegm sounds….not for the faint of heart
  • Always take a card from the hotel of the places you want a taxi to take you because otherwise you will be screwed (if your Mandarin is as bad as ours)

    St. Regis Shanghai
    889 Dong Fang Road, Pudong District
    Shanghai 200122 China
    Phone (86)(21) 5050 4567 Fax (86)(21) 6875 6789