Trip Start Mar 02, 2008
Trip End Jul 15, 2008

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Flag of China  , Shanghai,
Saturday, May 3, 2008

This hostel is more of a hotel than a hostel. Again. We are most certainly spoiled here.

Everyone told us not to come to Shanghai, or to only stay a couple of days. We think they are wrong, and that this is our kind of city. We'll report back later.

We got in yesterday and headed down to the Bund at sunset. We got off the train a stop back so we could walk through a famous shopping street. It was sort of like the third street promenade in Santa Monica, but with the neon of Times Square, and with 300 million people asking you if you wanted to buy a watch/bag/wallet/sunglasses/etc.

It was cool to be on the Bund at night, looking across to the TV tower. Everything is lit up with blinking lights and neon. Even most of the ferries running along the river are lit up with string after string of lights.

Oh, and they were bats! (I can just see my mom shuddering as she reads this.)

After leaving there we wandered around looking for dinner and ended up going into a Sichuan place. The menu had English and pictures, but that doesn't really help, as we found out. If anyone saw Anthony Bourdain in Beijing, you saw them eating out of a hot pot (flame under it the whole time) of meat and a million peppers. We ordered one of those. Part way through the sauce started turning blood red from the peppers and we had them put the flame out. The really bad news was that I bit a piece of chicken only to find that it was solid bone and cartilage. I spit it out and looked at the basket and saw bits of spine and bone and gross stuff. I would have started screaming if everyone weren't looking at me. We thought of Leslie's e-mail and were wondering if it was a pigeon, but finally determined it was not, but was probably some sort of small chicken, like a Cornish game hen or something. The little bits I did eat (yes, I was very brave) were good, but the whole thing was a tiny bit too spicy. (See photos.) Oh well, we learn things with every new experience.

Yesterday we went down to the old town section, which was crazy crowded. There were a million snack places with people lining up to buy really weird things to eat. We waited about an hour for the city's best soup dumplings, which were tasty.

We went to Yu Garden -- a traditional rock garden. Check out the photos. I could have lived there (sans all of the tour groups).

We then hiked across town a mile or so to the fabric market, only to find that it had been torn down and moved.  :O(

Last night we ended up going to dinner near the hostel. This is the way it works: we walk in and ask to see a menu, they nod and try to point you to a table because they don't understand. We get the menu which has pictures (yay!), but no English (eh ...). The waitress then stands there and wants to know what you would like to order, before you've even opened it. I tried charades to tell her we needed a minute to look at the menu and she should come back, so she pointed at a photo of vegetables. We ordered a beer thinking it would buy us time, but then she pointed to something and said "chicken". No way, we are not ordering birds in this town again any time soon. We finally decided on veggies, lotus root and fish. It was a spectacular meal, even though all of the bones were in the fish and we kept having to spit them out. I'm sure when they cleaned up our table later in the evening they were all standing around looking at the fish bones and discussing how completely strange we were.

P.S. Freckles are completely fascinating and worthy of staring and sometimes pointing. Great.
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