19-hour Layover in Shanghai

Trip Start Dec 15, 2012
Trip End Dec 27, 2012

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Where I stayed
Sofitel Shanghai Hyland
Read my review - 5/5 stars
What I did
The Bund (Wai Tan) Shanghai
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of China  ,
Saturday, December 15, 2012

I had a nineteen-hour layover on my trip from Tokyo to India.  I debated whether I should pull an all-nighter exploring the city or booking a hotel to get some rest.  My friend was leaning towards the latter which we ended up going for.  I was glad for that decision because we ended up exhausted arriving in Shanghai.  Then we had to decide whether to take the Maglev (Magnetic levitation-based high speed train) or to take a cab to the hotel and again chose for convenience.  First lesson I learned in Shanghai- cabs always smell of cigarettes.  Second lesson- cab drivers barely understand or speak any English.  This we had learned from travel tips received beforehand, so we were prepared with the destination names in Chinese characters before arriving there.  It took us about an hour from the airport to the hotel. 
Arrived at the Sofitel which we deliberately chose for its location in the heart of downtown Shanghai, right next to the bustling People's Square.  Was taken away by the energy of the night-street musicians, people dancing, tourists walking and on trolleys that will knock you out unless you watch out, and very loud and not very good karaoke'ing.  Be careful of crosswalks, as there is no physical difference between sidewalks and crosswalks.  I had to be stopped several times while walking a red light that I didn't realize was there.  Was surprised by how tall the Shanghainese were after getting used to the local height in Japan.  Got dinner at a small local restaurant which surprised me but got me used to tableware wrapped up in plastic labeled "sanitized for your protection" which would accompany me throughout my international trip.  Ordered some kind of hot and sour soup with a flavorful eggplant dish and paid very little for the delicious and fulfilling meal.  Realized that everything closes around 10-11pm in Shanghai and was glad once again that we had the hotel for the night.  Went to bed shortly after and woke up to a nice hotel buffet breakfast.  Took a cab to the Bund, which surprised me with its European-looking architecture.  Primary motivation was to get a good view of the Oriental Pearl Tower which we were too tired to see the night before.  Couldn't get a nice shot due to the fog, but was still worth the short cab ride there.  We had a smooth cab ride back to the hotel and then to the airport.  Again, all the cabs smelled like cigarettes which I did not fully appreciate and none of the drivers really knew English, but the hotel staff helped us out with that.  Short but memorable stay in Shanghai!
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