Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Day 2 - In Which We Once Again Travel Great Distances

So after what we judged too much relaxation on Day 1 - come on, a whole afternoon and evening in one city? - we end our day twelve hundred miles away in Hanoi, after two subway rides, two cab rides, and two flights. A good day's work.

We started the day off with a visit to the Radisson's swanky pool - isn't it fun when middling American brands go chichi overseas? - before a trip around the block that yielded a delicious streetside Bing (a sort of egg crepe with scallions) and two rounds of pork dumplings.

Porked out, we shadow-hopped our way through the heat and landed at the Urban Planning museum in People's Sqaure. It's a very cool museum - especially if you're willing to suspend all skepticism about Shanghai's rush to progress. Amazing optimism on all exhibit labels - e.g., suggesting that through the new suburbs they are building around Shanghai, "Man reaches unprecedented harmony with society and nature." 5-year plans abounded, with "gigantic steps forward" toward the inevitable end of establishing the city as THE dominant megalopolis for the 21st century. Skepticism aside, they're doing some pretty cool stuff - making changes in the greening of the city in the course of 2-3 years that New York is hoping for in 25, and building miles of new subways and countless residential buildings at the same speed. I guess it's roughly what would happen if the US directed all its energy at "modernizing" New York and LA (my Beijing and Shanghai, for a minute)...and also got rid of all the pesky neighborhood groups and political opposition. Highlight for me was a 360 degree virtual tour through Shanghai 2010, showcasing the bazillions of new developments and whole new cities-within-cities that will make up Shanghai in a couple years - guided by a gleeful fairy thing in 8-yr-old Chinese. Fun.

With our remaining time, we hopped a subway over towards the Old City to a street famous for streetfood and ended up with...more pork dumplings. These were the biggest so far, and pretty good, though we think we've reached our pork limit for the moment.

After a stop back at the hotel, we were off to the airport for our 2-flight trip to Hanoi. Felt quite familiar, really - both flights were delayed and there was lots of moving around. We did get there, however, and in the meantime befriended a Shanghai guy (call me "Harry") who we might meet for dinner when we're back - he helped us hitch a ride between terminals when we thought we were in a rush, and we paid a whopping $2US to give him a ride to his hotel on the way to Hanoi, so I think we're fast friends.

We're now holed up in our hotel (the Golden Lotus) in Hanoi, in the Old City. Quite cute - hotel and 'hood. Though it was 11:30 when we arrived, I (Josh) couldn't let a mealtime go by and so went wandering the streets, where I managed to land a delicious snail soup and a chicken porridge, and where I realized that - lo and behold - I speak no Vietnamese. Should be a fun few days!

[As an aside, we are having a bit of trouble uploading photos but we'll have our on-the-go IT department take a look at it and see what we can do. Apologies.]

1 comment:

Ali said...

blogging rules! I'll have you know I'm reading your blog everyday and loving it. I am already sad knowing, however, that your blog has more hits in two days than my blog has had in 9 months. very sad.

anyway, the food sounds amazing. i'm drooling. i want pork dumplings. bring home recipes!