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Shanghai proper (as in not the airport, which is farther) is roughly two hours from Suzhou by bus, so we went yesterday (Sunday, July 22nd) for a visit. It’s a BIG city — the biggest in China, if I’m not mistaken — and I’ll tell you now, I didn’t like it all that much. My friend says it’s just because all we saw were the touristy places, but I’m just not a city person, no matter what continent I’m on and what country I’m in. But, I’m going to tell you about it anyway because I know people want to know, and certain parts really were interesting; for me, it’s one of those places that’s fine for a day trip, but I would never want to live there.

Before I start telling you about what we did, though, I’m going to preface it with: I have about 3 pictures of Shanghai, total. None are of me. I HAD more, but accidentally hit the “delete all” button on my camera while trying to remove a bad picture of the Bund, and so all my Pearl Tower pictures (as well as my Tiger Hill pictures from Saturday) are gone. I was upset at first, but then I decided that the experience is more important to me than the pictures I lost. I’ve been to Tiger Hill and Shanghai and am happy to tell you all about them, and I can borrow pictures off of Facebook and Google upon my return to the States. It’s a bit of a bummer for anyone hoping to see me sitting on the glass floor of the observation deck 259 meters (or something like that) above Shanghai, but I’m sure I’ll return there someday.

Anyway, as far as experiences. First, we went to the Oriental Pearl Tower (东方明珠塔). We visited the first and second level observation decks, though not the third. It was so high, and the elevator went so fast, that we could feel the pressure change in our ears. The observation decks are round, so you can walk around and see out in all directions. I liked the second level very much because it had labels on the windows indicating what other Chinese city you were looking toward and how far it was to that city from the tower. On the bottom floor of the tower, there’s the Shanghai history museum. I don’t much like to read things in museums, but looking at all the models they had of different aspects of old Shanghai was pretty interesting.

After the Pearl Tower, we visited the Bund. It wasn’t nearly as exciting as people often make it out to be. Basically, it was just super-hot and super-crowded. Nonetheless, I rather enjoyed myself because I was a popular choice for Chinese photo-ops with a foreigner. There were SO MANY foreigners the Chinese tourists could have chosen, but 3 or 4 chose me. Our tour guide and teacher were watching and said that I should make a sign and charge people 10 kuai (only $1.57, but good money in China) for a photo with me because I’d make a lot of money that way! Lol (And, speaking of foreigners, I put the foreigner count on hold for the trip to Shanghai… I probably could have found 100+ in that one day if I hadn’t lost count…)

The last place we visited was Nanjing Road (南京路), which is a famous shopping street. It was hot, but not nearly as frightening as real Chinese streets where cars drive… Nanjing Road is a 步行街, a pedestrian street, where cars aren’t allowed! A lot of places were having sales, but it was still rather expensive to shop there. And when I say expensive, I mean it; the souvenir shop was selling packs of ten chopsticks for 20 kuai a pack… I’ve bought the exact same kind of chopsticks on the Beijing street for 3 kuai! When my two friends and I tried to buy in bulk to bargain the price down, the first seller lady told us no then turned to help another customer, and the second guy, without a word, picked up the four packs and put them back in the stack. How friendly! I wound up not buying anything but a gift for the teacher who wrote my recommendation for this program way back in the fall of last year.

So, yeah, that was Shanghai… One quick unrelated thing before I go work on my project:
The other day on my bus ride to school, I heard a clucking noise and turned around to see a lady seating herself nearby with a live chicken in her arms… Yes, on the public bus… Unfortunately, I was getting off at the next stop, so I didn’t have time to fully appreciate that queer event, but I thought it was blog-worthy.