Day 2: Shanghai for Beginners

Shanghai skyline in the sunshine.

Shanghai skyline in the sunshine.

Day 2

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Morning:
Breakfast is free except for coffee. Mmmmm, it was actually pretty good coffee. There’s soy milk too. And oatmeal. And veggie steamed buns. I like those the best. A lot of other food items frankly scare the shit out of me.

We both slept fairly well, as we were exhausted. I cheated, I brought along sleeping pills.

Late afternoon:
After breakfast, we set out for the People’s Square, where a large concentration of museums and gardens is. We decided first to visit the much-vaunted Shanghai Museum. It’s free, which is appreciated. There were four floors but I didn’t feel compelled to examine everything in-depth. Clothes, paintings, ceramics? Sure. Seals, calligraphy, currency? Not so much. I was amazed at how many pictures everyone takes. You’re going to take a picture with a nondescript porcelain dish? Really?

Very cute big butt horse sculpture at the Shanghai Museum.

Very cute big butt horse sculpture at the Shanghai Museum.

After that, we decided to visit the Shanghai Urban Planning Center. It wasn’t too expensive, and the scale model of the city and the 3D movie were worth it. Apparently, Shanghai has the most buildings over 100 meters than any other city in the world. And these sparkling avenues of gigantic skyscrapers follow the river and spread out in every direction as far as the eye can see. “Amazing” is not even enough of a word for it.

Jaw-dropping model of Shanghai at the Shanghai Urban Planning Center. Makes NYC look small.

Jaw-dropping model of Shanghai at the Shanghai Urban Planning Center. Makes NYC look small.

After that, I was starving. Outside the Urban Planning place, there is a “1930s traditional Shanghai street” filled with lots of little shops. I tried my luck. I really wanted a bubble tea, but then I was afraid of ordering something milky by mistake. I ended up with fries.

I decided to be a little braver. I tried one of the places with all the food set out like a buffet and you fill a paper bowl. The vendor fills the rest with broth, but I waved that away, god knows what kind of broth it is. And you pay by the bits you choose. I pointed to a couple of varieties of tofu plus some mushrooms and bok choy, but it all had a fishy chickeny aftertaste. Oh, well. We do the best we can. Chris is right, it’s not even an alphabet we can decipher.

Watch your head, German!

Watch your head, German!

Night:
We took the Metro to the Bund to see the skyline. It was impressive and completely crowded. The people watching was great. We considered doing a walking tour from one of the guide books, but our stomachs demanded to be filled.

We found Gong de Lin, mentioned in 2 guidebooks as the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the city. Truthfully, it was not great, but we were starving. Having green tea was comforting, but it came in a tall glass and there’s no strainer for the leaves. Hard to drink, so hot and swallowing leaves, but whatever. We ordered a gigantic green salad, which was very refreshing, although not in the Chinese style since everything seems to be fried.

Just after 20:00, we are brain dead. I want to read a bit. Chris started to read, but he’s already passed out cold.

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