Sunday, October 21, 2007

Get On The Bus

My second night in Tokyo and I haven't posted about Shanghai yet. As the end of the trip draws near the pace gets even crazier, if that's possible. We left Shanghai yesterday morning and arrived in Tokyo late afternoon. Will try to do some justice to Shanghai tonight and post about Tokyo before I leave. I had to backspace just now, I originally typed "before we leave" but for the first time since Sept. 27, I'll be getting on a plane alone on Tuesday. I think I'm familiar enough with airports, immigration and customs by now that I can negotiate it comfortably solo. It'll be nice not to have to wait in long lines (we make our own long lines with our group, if they weren't long before we arrived), but kind of scary not to be able to look for people you know to make sure you're going in the right direction.

So, about Shanghai...

On Saturday night I went to the Bund with Geisa from La Sierra University and Maria from Creighton University (right). The Bund is a strip along the waterfront, and has a lot of old western-style buildings from the 1800's. It was like Chicago's Navy Pier on steroids (pics two and three). Neon everywhere, people everywhere, people selling stuff or begging everywhere. We had Chinese food at the New Bund Restaurant, and it was really, really good.

Shanghai was not nearly as dirty and unpleasant as I expected (which doesn't mean it wasn't dirty, and sometimes unpleasant). It was quite raucous and pushy, though, especially compared to Seoul, which we had just left. At the IIE fair people would push in front of each other and talk over each other at your table, which was kind of startling after so much extremely polite behavior for so long. Some of my colleagues were quite put off by this behavior. It didn't bother me too much, but it was exhausting to have to talk non-stop (and really loudly, and with a language barrier that was sometimes rather high) for four hours . Not the greatest way to spend an evening when you're getting over a cold, but I got through it.

Shanghai is huge and sprawling, the exact opposite of Hong Kong, which is compact and vertical. One of our school visits was about an hour's drive out from our hotel (which I would say was downtown, except that "downtown" Shanghai is so huge as to make the term almost meaningless) and as we were driving out there we passed countless new housing developments under construction. At just one of these was a group of at least 50 high-rise apartment buildings (I counted ten rows of buildings as we passed, and could see five or six buildings in each row), and each one of these buildings was in roughly the same stage of construction, they were building them all simultaneously. And this was only ONE construction site that we passed. In some places, where we were fairly high up and could see out over the city, you could look out and see two dozen or so cranes, near and far, in every direction. It was truly staggering.

And then there was the airport, which is so big that they load everyone into buses at the gates and drive you out to your plane (we drove for nearly fifteen minutes to get to our plane, and in the end there were three busloads of people brought to it, all packed in like sardines). There's a constant stream of people going out each gate and onto buses. And speaking of buses, I must say that I'll be happy if I never have to get on another bus in my life, especially a tour bus (even though our tour bus in Shanghai was a very pretty blue and had cranes on it).

We all fall asleep on the bus coming back from a school visit.

The view from my hotel room in the Shanghai Hilton.

The view in one direction, standing on a pedestrian overpass, about a block from the hotel.

The view from the other direction, same overpass.

The fountain in the lobby of the Hua Ting Hotel and Towers, where the college fair was.


chris said...

We thought the Costa del Sol in Spain was the home of the construction crane, but apparently they migrate to Shanghai or abound there also.

Great photos of the city.

Know you must be sick to group travel. But what a wonderful experience this must be.

We head to NE Tuesday to find fall. It has been in the high 80s and 90s here. Getting our first cool front tonight. Looking forward to cool NE days.

Anonymous said...

Shanghai! Wow. Most of my old China Marine friends (most are probably dead now) would be absolutely amazed. The old area where you were, shouldn't be too far from the old U. S. embassy and the old Marine barracks.

As Chris told you, and I told you, we will be gone to Nebraska next week. Chris' cell phone is 210-488-8830. She leaves her's on. I don't.

Love you, Dad

SAS said...

We've gotten 3 postcards, 2 on the same day last week! Sounds like quite a trip.