Monday, July 23, 2007

Day 1 - Arrival in Shanghai

After traveling for roughly 22 hours door to door, we arrived this afternoon in Shanghai. The flight was mostly uneventful, save for the two kicking and coughing children sitting immediately behind us for the Chicago-Shanghai leg. But the highlight of our travels definitely had to be the maglev train from the Shanghai airport to the City. The train made almost no noise and sped along incredibly quickly, topping out at 430 km/hour (or roughly 269 miles/hour). It made the JFK air train seem a little sad.

Once settled at our spaceship-looking hotel in the People's Square right in the middle of downtown Shanghai, we quickly headed out for our first culinary treat. A couple blocks away from the hotel we headed for Jia Jian Tang Bao (90 Huanghe Lu), famous for its soup dumplings or xiaolongbao. 15 delicious pork dumplings later, we were off strolling some of the main streets of Shanghai, including Nanjing Lu, also known as the Times Square of Shanghai with many giant shops and restaurants. We also enjoyed some lovely grilled veggies from a street vendor on the way.

Our walk ended up on the Bund, where we got to see the futuristic architecture of Pudong on one side of the river and the historical grandeur (rapidly being turned into georgio armanis and pradas) of the Bund. We snooped around some of the fancier Bund buildings and then stopped off for a quick drink at New Heights, a bar at the top of 3 on the Bund, to watch the lights come on all over the city. It was an amazing show. As if flashing lights aren't enough, the buildings project text, ads and are almost like giant TV screens. That said, the oriental pearl tower building really takes the cake for space-age. It is totally bonkers-looking and apparently serves no real function other than to give tourists like us something to photograph.

After our drink, we hopped in a cab to the French Concession for dinner at Jishi (41Tianping Lu) a delicious Shanghainese restaurant. Based on recommendations we had read and those of the friendly older Chinese gentlemen at the table next to us, we had a wonderful meal of wild herbs with dried bean curd, eggplant, bean curd with mushroom (Josh loved the bean curd--I actually thought it was weird and a little like rubber) and then this amazing pork in a brown sauce that required peeling off about half an inch of fat before you got to the meat.

On our way heading back to the hotel, Josh decided to get that overdue haircut that he didn't have time for in New York. Josh's Chinese served him very well and, after clarifying that we are dating and not in fact brother and sister, he had a lovely chat with the people at the hair salon.
Cut complete, we hopped back on the Shanghai metro--very nice, even by the New York standards of the 4/5/6 train--and came back to our hotel.

All in all, not bad for a day that began by landing at 2:30 Shanghai time.


Jonathan said...

Holy hell I'm exhausted and all I did was read the entry.

Kim said...

Congratulations on making it there in one piece! I can't wait until you guys post some pictures (hint hint).


Martha said...

I am glad to hear that the bean curd outdid the pork rind/fat dish. Sounds like your trip is starting off just right! Say hello for me (xin chao!) to Vietnam!

Alexandra said...

15 soup dumplings! OMG I'm SO jealous. Please take pictures of dumplings.