Monday, October 22, 2012

Paris of the East

We hopped on a bus to Shanghai early Saturday morning for a weekend trip. It was a short hour and a half trip which was a nice contrast from the 24 hour trip to Xi'an. I feel really lucky to live so close to an amazing city and hope to go many more times to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity. 

Coincidentally, while in China 3 years ago Andrew, Hannah, and Wayne made a friend down in the Hunan province who is now living in Shanghai for work. Cloud is an interesting guy...yes his English name is Cloud. He taught himself English and bless his heart sometimes he says things in ways we wouldn't normally. But props to him for teaching himself another language and he's currently teaching himself Japanese. It's a little awkward to be around him because half the time you can't understand what he's trying to say and there's a lot of dead air. You don't know if you should say something or keep waiting for him to possibly continue his story. Apparently, he's really successful and high up in the car company that he works for. He works really hard but I sort of feel bad for him because I know he's really lonely. So if any ladies out there want to marry a rich, nice Chinese guy just let me know. He made me a deal that if I can get him an American girlfriend then he would give me his really nice Nikon camera. Great deal!

When we got to Shanghai he took us to the really nice hotel rooms that we could never afford to stay at (about $500+ a night). His company pays for him and some of his colleagues to live there and a couple people were out of town and they let us stay in their rooms. After dropping off our things we walked around the city. He lives right in the heart of the financial district of Shanghai which is one of the most popular tourist locations in the city. The buildings were the highest I have ever seen in my life. I kept stopping to take photos but Cloud kept telling me that it would be much better at night. If it was this amazing during the day I couldn't wait for the night. 

This was the view from our hotel room.
I haven't slept on a bed this soft since being in America. It was heaven on earth. I will never take my bed for granted. Although it was an adjustment sleeping on cloth covered wood planks I've got used to it but don't particularly enjoy it. Our room came with one free breakfast and Andrew was gracious enough to allow me to go. It was so American I could hardly take it. I even got to eat with a fork and knife. Strangely enough my hands hurt a little after cutting and eating with them. I'm way too used to eating anything and everything with chopsticks. Don't tell anyone but I snuck some bacon into my person for Andrew because I'm pretty much the best wife ever.

We walked through the city to find the Yuyuan Garden. Another thing about Cloud is you never know where  he is leading you and if he actually knows where he is going. He'd occasionally pause, start talking to himself, look around and finally say, "Oh yes, this way." But none of us really believed he knew. No matter how much our feet hurt from the amount of walking, we always found our destination.

The park itself was really peaceful. I think I heard that it is translated to mean The Garden of Peace which is very fitting. I really enjoyed walking around and just taking in all the beauty that surrounded me. Although all the gardens are fairly similar in China they are my favorite places to visit. It's just a beautiful, tranquil place where you can sit and reflect. It's a nice break from the typical busy atmosphere of China.

We saw some really amazing sculptures on roofs...

...some huge, hungry coy fish...

...some people performing with typical Chinese instruments....

...but mostly it was just a stunning garden with beautiful views everywhere you looked.

Group Shot!

After taking a small break and grabbing some jaozi (dumplings) for dinner we were out to see the famous city lights Cloud kept talking about. We walked through a popular shopping district with many American brands, even a Forever 21! There were American brands everywhere that it just didn't feel like China all that much. Although, it was comforting to see I had no desire to go inside any of them. I have a Chinese mindset and know that there are underground markets with far better prices. I don't exactly know why he took us through this area but I suppose it was cool to see. I think it was just so he could keep up his reputation of taking us the longest route possible. Gotta love Cloud and his crazy way of thinking!

Once we arrived and I saw the cityscape, I had to agree that is was a much better view at night. All the different colored lights covering the massive buildings were a sight to behold. There were so many people crowding the sidewalk next to the river's edge to get the best possible shots. I think I was able to get some amazing pictures. I wish all of you were able to see it in all its glory.

Shanghai is an incredible city!

Once we were through fighting the crowd to take as many pictures as we could and we could feel nothing but pain in our feet from a day of walking we hurried back to our fancy hotel rooms for a luxury night's rest. Everything to Cloud was luxury not luxurious. :) That car is very luxury, that store is luxury, and so on and so forth. One of the funny quirks about our dear Chinese friend.

I could talk for paragraphs about how nice it was to sleep in such a comfortable, bouncy, and soft bed but I'm sure that would bore you seeing as you enjoy that every night. Suffice it to say I will be dreaming about that bed until hopefully we visit Cloud again in Shanghai.

There really was no plan for Sunday. Cloud took us around to some shopping places but we didn't really buy anything. I bought 2 cute long sleeve shirts for 20 yuan each ($3). Andrew was looking for a coat but there were mostly women's clothes. We were all really tired so we convinced Cloud that it was lunch time and then headed back to Zhangjiagang. Truth be told it was a little overwhelming being around Cloud so much because you never knew what was going on. 

We took the subway to the bus station. You get everywhere in Shanghai by subway. Walked around a bit and headed back to our sweet humble home in Zhangjiagang. 

We are already talking about places we want to see when we go to Shanghai next time. We couldn't really do what we had in mind because Cloud was entertaining us and we had to stick with his plans. There are so many things to see and do there. Plus, we live so close that it's a guarantee there will be many posts to come about the breathtaking Paris of the East.
Hello my faithful blog followers! I was wondering if you would prefer my next post (aside from the weekly student spotlight) to be about the food we typically eat or an apartment tour? Both are sure to come but which would you like first? I will also gladly take any other suggestions for posts. What do you want to see or hear about? Thanks!
(leave a comment by clicking the pencil)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...