The First Leg...Getting to Shanghai
15.09.2010 - 17.09.2010 90 °F
We're all moved out of 524 S. Front St. Into storage everything goes and off to Asia we go!! I thought that the title the "Honeymoon Before the Wedding" was fitting since this trip will most likely never happen again and it is what we would have loved to do after the wedding if possible, but seems impossible as we will finally be getting those things called jobs. As Ma Tamm says, "this is a trip of a lifetime!!!" and we are finding that it really is. When else are we going to be able to take a 2 month break from life until we retire?? Don't hate our awesomeness.
Thanks to a lot of help from many friends in Philly and New Jersey, we were able to put our lives on hold for 2 months and we made it to NYC. The 16 hour flight from JFK to Hong Kong was long, but with the help of countless movies to catch up on, the trip went very quickly. The sun never set the whole flight as we flew right over the arctic circle. Crazy. As we approached Hong Kong, I heard "it's like we're on another planet" come out of Lawrence's mouth. He was right. It is a huge city of ginormous skyscrapers that are never ending along a series of beautiful islands. After a 2 hour layover, we arrived in Shanghai around midnight (noon back on the east coast) and had a driver waiting to pick up our backpacking butts and bring us back to cousin Jeff's amazing pad in the French Concession.
Our Shanghai adventure began with a subway ride to Pudong (pu=river, dong=east) which was another area of innumerable dizzying skyrises. The three that caught our attention right away were Oriental Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Tower, and the World Financial Center (WFC or bottle top building). Little did we know there is yet another skyscraper being built that is going to top them all in height. The area is a maze of Chinese tourists who have come for the World Expo (What the heck is this World Expo all about?? This thing called the internet says it aims to promote the exchange of ideas and development of the world economy, culture, science and technology, to allow exhibitors to publicize and display their achievements and improve international relationships. Accordingly, the World Expo with its 150-year history is regarded as the Olympic Games of the economy, science and technology.) We decided that since we were there, we needed to pay the 150 RMB (about $20 USD) to visit the world's highest manmade observation deck. Up we went, all 425 meters and 101 floors (we paid extra to go to the way top, which was way worth it!!) One of the highlights was watching the window cleaners at work on the 94th floor. Talk about a 'high' risk job!
Side notes on the Pudong area:
Since 1990, billions of dollars have been poured into the infrastructure and economic development of the region. What was a swampy farmland 20 years ago is now a picture of China's economic and technological power. Researches say that Shanghai has sunk over 2 meters in the last century and have concerns that this could be accelerated with the continued construction of gigantic skyscrapers. Crazy, huh? I thought that was interesting. Basically China believes the bigger they build, the stronger they become.
Next up was a stop at the Jing'an Temple, or the Temple of Peace and Tranquility. It was interesting to see the stark contrast of the old historic buildings of the Temple against the new modern shopping malls and tall shiny buildings surrounding it. There was a sort of wishing well that you could try and throw money up into, and in my attempt to wish with a Lincoln Penny, 1 RMB fell from the well, so I considered it a good profit for the day. We didn't find much peace there, so we took the money from Buddah and went home.
That night we met up with Jeff at TiaKang Lu for dinner- no Chinese stuff, just good ol' New York Pizza It is an arts and crafts enclave that has risen from a renovated residential area in Shanghai. Very cool. We sat in a motorcycle with a side car for fun (didn't get the chance to take it for a spin... maybe next time).
That's it for the first day in China. More to come of our adventure in the Crazy City of Shanghai soon.