A Full Day In Shanghai

I would have had a post up sooner but I had some technical difficulties yesterday which I’ll write about in my next post. Onward…

Thursday we took a day-long tour around Shanghai in a van, courtesy of the Summer China program. We started at the Oriental Pearl Tower, had lunch in the Super Brand Mall (yes that is the luxury mall’s real name because only “super” brands are allowed to be sold there), visited the Shanghai Museum, and ended at the old town market.

The Pearl Tower provides a 360 degree panoramic view of the entire city. It’s awesome, especially on a clear day like we had; unusual for Shanghai in the summer between the humidity and smog.

What made the view so memorable is that there is an entire level which is made up of glass. You can walk all the way around on plates of glass to look out and down at Shanghai. If you suffer easily from vertigo or have a deep fear of heights, this is not the tourist attraction for you.

The Bund and Suzhou Creek

My wife was careful as she took tentative step after tentative step onto the glass. Our son Henry would not step on the glass. Meredith simply ran out onto it and proceeded to jump up and down. We had to tell her not to jump because we were all told not to jump. But four-year-olds don’t always listen very well.

Here is Meredith standing on the glass.

Here’s the obligatory shot of my feet on the glass.

And here’s my wife’s foot on the glass.

Then our camera, suffering from vertigo, passed out and couldn’t be revived…

OK. It was just the that battery ran out. We had charged it up a bit before we left the States and had forgotten to finish charging it up when we checked into our hotel here. Doh!

At the bottom of the Pearl Tower is the Shanghai History Museum. It uses full-scale replicas and small models of people and shops to tell the history of the city from a small fishing village, to the Opium Wars, to its development under the British and French, to the modern metropolis it is today. Henry was excited about the to-scale exhibits and the pictures of old buildings, showing what the city used to look like. Without those pictures it’s hard to imagine the city could have ever looked that way when you’re standing in modern Shanghai.

After lunch we were taken to the Shanghai Museum. The Shanghai Museum is considered a treasure by many Chinese and rightfully so. It contains everything from coins, furniture, sculptures, paintings, jade, and many more artifacts showcasing China’s rich history. We there for only an hour, so we chose a few things to see, vowing to come back when we have more time.

But the tour was not over. Next we went to the old town market. Nearly everyone in our group was beat. Unlike us, most everyone had arrived in Shanghai the day before and were severely jet-lagged. The temperature had also climbed to 100 degrees. Luckily, due to the old style of the buildings, that had long wide porches surrounding them, there was plenty of shade.

Meanwhile, Meredith fell asleep and I carried her around a bit until I found an open bench to sit on while holding her as my wife and son looked inside a shop.

When Meredith finally woke up, she wanted ice cream after seeing one of the women in our group eating some in a cone. And then Henry wanted some, too.

Inside this area of the Old Town (which I nicknamed “Shanghai Chinatown” because it resembled even more so the Chinatowns I’ve seen in cities like Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles), among all these Chinese run shops selling Chinese made goods at negotiable prices in Chinese-style buildings, was a Turkish ice cream shop called Dondurman.

Once you chose your flavor, the Turkish men behind the counter used a long thin metal spade to scoop the ice cream into a cone and then flip the cone all around, upside-down, and snatch it from your hands leaving you holding only the cone’s paper wrapper. Eventually, after some more bait-and-switch type games you were given your cone filled with some very delicious ice cream. When they did this, they always attracted a crowd. So that by the time you got your ice cream, there was a crowd of people standing around you. It was 25 Yuan for a cone of ice cream, roughly $4.

It was a fun and tasty way to end such a hot busy day.


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