December 1, 2013
Today I awoke knowing we'd be saying, "Zàijiàn" to Beijing and "Nǐ hǎo" to Shanghai. Our late morning flight meant we could sleep in a bit and not have to rush to the airport.
We checked into our flight as a group, which was interesting as it had the benefit of sharing the weight of our luggage, but also meant I wasn't able to request a specific seat type and ended up in the middle of a four-person row. At least it was only an hour and 40 minute flight.
In true Air China fashion, we departed from the gate a few minutes early and arrived in Shanghai a few minutes before scheduled. Another surprise was a mid-flight full meal; something that's gone the way of the DoDo bird in the US for economy travelers.
Our guide met us at baggage claim and took us to the hotel. While it was Sunday, the traffic on the roads was VERY busy. The optional tour for the day included dinner and an Acrobats show. Many from the group opted in, but I chose to go off and explore the city, as well as have dinner on my own.
The Bund, located on the Huangpu River, has great views of the Pudong skyline and was only a short walk from our hotel. I ventured out and strolled along the boardwalk. The smog was heavy over the landscape; something we were fortunate to miss in Beijing but would now have to reckon with in Shanghai.
After walking south and then back north along the boardwalk, I chose a carefully located seat to watch the night Pudong skyline illuminate as the sun set. I anxiously awaited the Oriental TV Tower lighting up, but got too cold and hungry and headed back toward the hotel, but venturing off to the dumpling restaurant our guide had suggested. I ended up, without realizing it, on the Nanjing Road; the foremost shopping district of Shanghai and my first offer of a "massage with happy ending." I passed, as graciously as I could (walking away and saying "no" repeatedly seemed to work).
Eventually, I found Ying's Dumplings, which featured homemade pork dumplings cooked in a fashion unlike anywhere else I'd seen. The dumplings are cooked in a large wok-like material pot containing about 75 dumplings. There are placed in such a way that the bottoms are cooked/seared while the tops stay moist and firm through the use of a wooden lid that's moved/swirled while the dumplings cook. I ordered a set of 6 which cost about US $1. Very fair for the serving and overall taste.
Afterward, I stopped by the local convenience store for a few provisions for the hotel room. Tomorrow would be a day out on my own venturing into a new city full of new experiences.
Beijing, China, Shanghai, The Bund,