Posted by: thoughtfulnomad | August 13, 2010

Shanghai is hot.

Did I mention that Shanghai is hot? Wow. I thought Texas was the hottest place in the world, but Shanghai has me drinking 5 bottles of water a day and still dehydrated. In fact, I just finished another. After walking around for 3 hours I feel like I’ve gone nonstop all day. It’s hot. BUT, it’s a really cool city.
After I found my hostel the first day, dripping in sweat, I did some wandering around. I’m only here for a few days and then I’m coming back for a day later this week. My first day I mostly hung out at the hostel and recovered from the long train ride. The lobby is a pretty cool place to hang out…there are a few tables, a flat screen TV, and tons of movies and books. There is also an air conditioning unit which I sit in front of anytime I am in the room. The air is so cold, you can actually see it coming out of the ac. It’s great. Yesterday I ventured out to an area called “The Bund,” which is a huge tourist/shopping/walking district around the river that goes through Shanghai. I walked around a bunch of shops, some underground markets, and the river walkway for a while and then took the subway back to the hostel. During the walk from subway stop to hostel I pass by a few restaurants, so I decided to check one of those out for dinner that night. Most places around here have english menus because of all the tourists, but this one didn’t. They did have about 6 of their dishes pictured on the wall, though, so I pointed to one that looked okay and waited. Naturally, I ended up with something completely opposite from what I ordered, but what made that alright was the fact that on each table there were what looked like straw dispensers, but actually gave you chopsticks when you push the little tray down. I’m in love with using chopsticks, so I use them whenever I can. The people working at the restaurant were laughing because I was using them to eat noodle soup that came with a spoon, but it just makes eating so much more fun.

Today I made my way out to the Yu Gardens, which I had heard a lot about. On the way there I wandered through some markets and into what looked like a mini shopping mall but turned out to sell a bunch of Chinese medicinal herbs and roots and that kind of thing. It was interesting to walk through. I wish I knew what everything was and what it was supposed to do, but that’s really hard to figure out through hand gestures, so I just looked. I found the Yu Gardens, which were surronded by new but very traditional looking Chinese buildings. There were tons of shops and stalls selling everything a tourist could ever want. There were even two different Starbucks withing a couple minutes walking distance of each other. It was fun to wander around the crowds and see the different food and crafts and what not. The Yu Gardens were really pretty.There were a bunch of stone arches and walkways, pagodas, plants, and ponds. I had only been walking around for about 3 hours, but the heat was intense, so I decided to head back to the hostel.

It took me a little while to find my way out of the gardens and back through the endless market streets to the subway stop, but I made it, got back to the hostel, and took a much needed shower. Normally I would wait a minute to get in the shower so that it’s not freezing cold, but in Shanghai I don’t turn the water on until I’m standing under the faucet in hopes that I’ll get the coldest water possible.

Tomorrow I’m taking a bus or train to Hangzhou, which is an area situated around a lake that apparently has a more traditional Chinese feel to it. Beijing is definitely becoming more modern, but it definitely holds on to tradition. Shanghai seems to be way ahead of the rest of China…I would say Shanghai is to China what New York City is to the US. There are tons of skyscrapers and everything is very modern. The also have the best metro that I’ve used in any big city. The gardens today were really the first time I’ve seen anything in Shanghai that reminded me that I’m in China, minus the millions of Chinese, the pre packaged chicken feet in convenience stores, and Chinese writing everywhere. It will be interesting to see what Hangzhou is like. Now I’m off to figure out how to get there.

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  1. Gotta love a Shanghai Starbucks! Nothing like hot coffee in a hot city! Hope you drank yours iced!!!! Love you!

  2. Reading all your wonderful narrative is the next best thing to being there! I continue to be in complete awe of your ability to navigate…enjoyably…in parts of the world where most folks would feel so lost they’d go into a fetal position and cry!! 🙂
    Have fun and keep those reports coming our way!

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