okay, it’s the weekend so i have no further excuse to delay this post. last week we flew to shanghai for a whirlwind 4-day visit. the prospect of savoring shanhgai’s cold winds in february may not sound like a good way to enjoy a short vacation, but we went on with our plans anyway.
for good measure, i brought a couple of thick coats and several sweaters. hah. big deal. the minute we stepped off the plane, we were met with this thick gust of cold wind that came as a rude slap of reality after the comfortable warmth of the plane’s pressurized interiors.
we were met by our guide, lawrence, and after sorting us out (which took longer than expected), he herded us to our respective hotels. our temporary address was new asia hotel in tiantong street, just across the city’s historic post office building.
after settling down, we decided to go out to grab a bite. unfortunately, the direction which we chose took us deeper into the city’s older district so there was no fastfood joint in sight. after an hour, we gave up on our search and slipped into this roadside resto — we were starting to shiver despite our coats and mittens and scarves, etc., and on top of that we were simply hungry.
the girl at the door greeted us (i assumed they were words of welcome because she uttered it to everyone who came in) and directed us to a table. now comes the difficult part: how to order! with sheepish grins, we looked at the menu and heaved a sigh of relief when we noted the pictures in it; and below the chinese name of each dish was an english translation. and so when the waitress approached us, we were fairly confident.
what followed was a hilarious bout of free-for-all discussion and gesticulations that eventually drew the participation of a couple of waiters and the doorgirl as we struggled to communicate. some of the staff knew some english, but the challenge was to figure out what they actually meant because they simply pronounce things differently in this neck of the woods. this took about 10 minutes, accompanied by laughter, shrugs, baffled looks and head scratching — good enough for a movie scene. all of these, however, were forgotten as soon as they brought in our order
i was only able to take a couple pictures. for some reason the waitress didn’t bring all of our orders at once; we simply devoured the dishes as they came. i’d have loved to snap all of them in one go, but that would’ve meant leaving some of the food to go cold. *sigh* clearly, there’s more to this picture-taking business than i’d previously thought.
the next day was a busy one. we went to a lot of places: the Bund, Xujiahui shopping district, and several other places whose names i cannot recall for the moment. we stayed out until 10pm, because some of our tour mates wanted to go bar hopping
the peoples park looks well-cared for, but basically smaller than i had expected. we also dropped by at this quaint teahouse. i would’ve loved to stay longer and gawk at the tea articles there — the wares looked interesting — but lawrence said it was time for us to go. oh well.
we also spent an hour at Xujiahui, which is dotted with high-rise shopping buildings you’d basically find in other cosmopolitan cities. store prices, as we had been warned, were simply high so we decided to keep our $$ for a bit longer.
we were also herded towards this state-run shop that specialize in jade carvings. some of the showcased items looked gorgeous. then we dropped by at st peter’s church to hear mass.
shanghai by nighttime is a much more impressive sight. we saw a lot of buildings that — more than anything — signaled the city’s recent ascendancy in the international arena. there were simply too many of them and what a picture they made. i took several snaps, despite my frozen fingers.
the next day we spent strolling around, and buying souvenirs and pasalubong for our friends back home. (as is my usual practice when i visit a new city) i dropped by at a bookstore (xinhua bookstore) and purchased a couple of books. we also saw 3 caged peacocks being ogled by bystanders along the way. it’s a pity that they were in wire cages, but they looked impressive at closer scrutiny
pretty soon, it was time to go home. it took us an hour to reach pudong airport, so we practically rushed through airport procedures to catch our plane back home. here’s our last glimpse of pudong as we taxied off from the runway.