Last Day in Shanghai and Some Questions Answered

Trip Start Mar 18, 2011
Trip End Apr 15, 2011

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Today is a sea day.  Yesterday we went on a half day tour around Shanghai.  We saw another garden which was very beautiful and then walked through the Old Town Market.  I felt like I was in a TV travel show.  I expected Andrew Zimmern or Anthony Bourdain to pop up and tell what all that stuff was.  There were tiny birds which our guide told us were sparrows.  Ken, sensing an export opportunity, now knows what to do with the sparrows that invade our eaves every spring.  We did not see any roasted squirrels, much to his disappointment.  There were steamed buns, a Shanghai specialty and all other manner of unidentifiable food.  Wasn't brave or hungry enough to try any though.  In addition there was the traditional Dairy Queen, KFC and McDonalds.  I understand why they have been successful here as there is a strong tradition of fast street food.  We went to a silk store and now have a silk comforter for our bed, very light and thin and seems perfect for summer.

Ken then went off for a ride on the Mag-Lev train, which he will have to write about as I wasn't there.

This seems like a good opportunity to tell you about the ship, now that we have gotten to know it a little.  The food is way too good and too available.  I think it is much better than any cruise we have been on.  There ar two restaurants that are specialty restaurants.  We do not have to pay extra to eat in those but you do have to make reservations.  Other thanthose two restaurants, there are no seating times for dinner.  You just go when you want to within the times they are open.  There has been no problem with getting a table.  

There is a buffet restaurant which really means that you pick out your cold food and the tell the waiter what else you want.  I the evening this restaurant is a Mediterranean bistro and has a most amazing antipasto bar.  I have made that my dinner several evenings.  When it warms up we will be able to eat outside that restaurant. The main restaurant, Compass Rose is very nice.  Great service, good menu and very relaxing. Last night we ate I the steakhouse.  It is a small restaurant with a pretty standard steakhouse menu. Food and service was great.  The pool deck also services lunch all afternoon with specialties on sea days.  Today is dim sum.  We are going to check that out.  None of my clothes are going to fit when I get home, which is distressing.

There are also great bars and again, you can always find seat.  It is so strange to have your drinks, or eat a fabulous meal with decent wine that keeps owning and then just walk out without having to sign for your meal or bar tab.  I know we paid for all of this already but it does seem like it is all free.  The waiters have a really nice balance between being there to get you anything you want but not pushing you to drink, like it seems they do more of on other cruises.

Guiltily, I have not checked out the gym yet.  In my own defense, I really still had the flu when I got on the ship and. Hve been touring pretty steadily since then.

Someone wrote a comment asking what the weather is like.  It is early spring I this part of China and not particularly warm.  Has been in the high 30's in the morning (wish I had brought gloves) for our tours and gets fairly pleasant, in the 50's in the afternoon.  It is slowly getting warmer as we move south.  Wll be hot in Vietnam and we will wish for the cool weather.

We were also asked if we had seen the poorer areas.  China is very different than any place I have been before, at least so far.  From what I hear, the poverty is more concentrated in the rural areas, which we aren't seeing.  I remember learning in grade school that most of China's population is concentrated along the coast and I think that has become even more pronounced.  We didn't see anything that looked like a poor area.  There we certainly little pockets of what appeared to be more run down housing in Shanghai, but it would be a two or three story building, with shops on the street level.  Didn't seem to be a whole neighborhood even, and, although those seem to look less desirable, I have no idea what they look like inside.  There are so many high rise apartment buildings it is incomprehensible.  Because, as I said in an earlier blog, no one has clothes dryers, a US mindset might tell you all of those windows with clothing hanging out them indicates poverty, in reality that's what everyone does.  There was a complex of 4 high rise residential buildings in the heart of Shanghai that our tour guide said was selling for $4,000 per square meter (about 10 square feet).  She also said that they had only sold two units- one to Jackie Chan. We have seen resorts outside of town which our tour guide says are for the "big potatoes".  There does appear to be some very wealthy people here.

We have seen a very small number of street people, begging for $.  They are persistent, but no more than in cities like San Francisco.  Did see one woman using her toddler as a prop just like they use cats at home. The tourist areas have many street vendors who are extremely persistent.  However, no one is getting a panda hat, laser flashlights, plastic replicas of the Shanghai buildings, roller wheels for their tennis shoes, rolex watches or mont blanc pens (although those were incredible bargains!).  If you don't look at them, they eventually go away, but don't look them in the eye or talk with them or they will go home with you.  I hope none of you are too disappointed by this.

Tonite is "formal optional" night.  I hope I can get into my cocktail dress!
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Mindy on

Reading your blog is too much fun. Thanks, Andrea.

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