Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 7: Party like it’s 1999!

This last night in Shanghai has been memorable!  It’s like I was 18 again, as I was drinking terrible shots with 18-year olds!  (Also a bunch of thirty-somethings, and a couple in their forties, so maybe not exactly like I was 18…). We painted the town red at Bar Rouge, enjoying stunning views of the night skyline of the Bund again. 

(Blurry, but you get the idea)

We proceeded to a local (not touristy) restaurant for dinner and had….I’m not sure.  Even Vincy, who speaks and reads Chinese, wasn’t sure, and she ordered!  It wasn’t very good, but it did taste better than it smelled… An adventure on the subway delivered nine drunk Canadians back to the hotel with minimal incident (I did accidentally head-but some poor guy walking by me as I threw my head forward in the midst of laughter…which caused Charles and me to laugh even more…), then I proceeded to pack for – sigh – another early morning departure to Xi’an.

The day started with a trip to “the Venice of Shanghai”, which is one of the few remaining towns reflecting a lifestyle that hasn’t changed since the great canals were built several hundred years ago.  It really is like Venice! We even started with a “gondola” ride down to the grand canal.

Oh, sorry, that actually is Venice… ;)

This scaffolding is made of bamboo, tied together with twine.  Not exactly as sturdy as what we’re accustomed to…

Ok, so this was really cool!  As is my tendency on this trip, I stumbled into a residential area where tourists don’t normally go.  I finally got to a dead end where a severe looking woman scolded me and gestured for me to turn around, but not before coming upon the kind of scene I don’t see every day:  a woman preparing dinner…with a dead, plucked, raw chicken, still with head and feet, lying on a table in the alleyway beside the bowl into which she was cutting potatoes.  Very cool, but I’m glad I wasn’t invited to dinner!

The endless maze of shops could have entertained me for hours, but traveling with a group means stricter timelines (as for my earlier comment…apparently those girls didn’t get the memo!).  We made our way back to the bus and back to the hotel for a quick change before heading downtown for the afternoon.

Charles, Vincy and I hitched a ride with the group heading to an optional activity (lunch, shopping, and a show), and then ventured on our own to the streets of Shanghai.  The Bund is awesome!  I wasn’t the only one walking around with my head craned back, looking at the stunning skyscrapers all around us.  Like Chicago without the history! Being on the opposite bank also afforded new views of the old waterfront across the river.

Given that water levels were over 5m higher than current levels during a relatively recent flood, I’m not sure that the modern Bund will last like it’s counterpart across the river.  

Oh, randomness!

So picturesque, with the grassy water plants in the foreground, the river, and the elegant buildings.  The shame of it is that the water is the colour of untreated sewage, and has a thick sheen of oil floating on top.  This is an active commercial waterway in a crowded, polluted city. Sigh… They are working on it.

Win a trip to Canada?  What are the chances?

As with dinner, Vincy was instrumental in our lunch selection. Namely, she recommended we go to:

Yep, we ate at Shanghai Hooters.  I’m not entirely sure why, but it was fun…for Charles and me.  Vincy seemed less excited that Charles did glance at the waitresses once or twice, and that – in her mind at least – our waitress was interested in Charles.  Vincy clearly had nothing to worry about, though.  Our server didn’t exactly fit the Chinese stereotype:

Server: Where are you from?
Us: Canada
Server: But you look Chinese?
Vincy: That’s because I am Chinese. I was born in Hong Kong.
Server: But you’re Canadian…?

After lunch and some wandering, we found the sightseeing tunnel.  Yes, “sightseeing tunnel”. Under the river. Anyone else a little curious about that? The sightseeing shuttles passengers back under the river to the old side and…..they’ve made the trip interesting. Blinking lights, flashing images, even a couple of inflatable clowns...and a voice announcing the theme of each section as you enter: “Space exploration”….”Time travel”…  Worth $8 for the novelty, I suppose.

Last afternoon in Shanghai, and I wanted to walk Nanjing Road.  It’s a high-end pedestrian shopping street…picture Sparks Street in Ottawa meets Fifth Avenue in NYC, except with one hundred times as many people!  Major crowds everywhere, and endless flashing neon lights for all the stores. (Picture Sparks Street, Fifth Av, and Times Square at its busiest, and you’re getting the idea.)

We were constantly being approached by people asking if we wanted knock-off watches, purses, electronics….it quickly got to the point that I would glance and decline without paying attention.  Which is how I found myself confused when I noticed one guy didn’t have the requisite flyer in hand showcasing the knock-offs.  “Sorry?” I said. “What did you say?” “Hashish?  Marijuana?” was his reply.  Um…..yeah…….I’m REALLY not interested in getting involved in illicit drugs in Shanghai.  I don’t want to go to any prison, but I especially don’t want to see the inside of a Chinese prison!  I’m getting so cavalier about Shanghai’s tourist traps, I didn’t even blink an eye when the prostitutes tried to get some business out of me and Charles (at this point Vincy was ahead with some of our tour-mates).  I didn’t blink, but I did decline….just for the record.

Last day in Shanghai.  I will definitely be back.  Maybe incorporate it into a trip to Hong Kong and Macau?

No comments:

Post a Comment