Bye Bye Shanghai

My five nights in Shanghai was the longest I stayed in one city.

I’m glad I did. I met some tremendous people and had a lunch and/or dinner every day during my stay. I will summarize all that I learned from these A+ people in a later post.

Outside of meetings, I walked along the Bund, the #1 tourist spot. The Bund is a walking area along the main river which separates the Pudong part of the city from the Puxi part. Most tourism is in Puxi and that’s where my apartment was too. I did go to Pudong for one meeting in the Citigroup building but there’s not much to see there other than amazing skyscrappers, which are better seen from across the shore.

The Bund was good but not great. I don’t think it’s worth the hype. It’s certainly a beautiful skyline though.

I also wandered through Old Town and a couple gardens. People’s Square is a nice bamboo enclave from the traffic. I finally checked out the Shanghai Museum, highly recommended by my Lonely Planet guide. Good stuff. Lots of good Chinese landscape paintings, which I like, and some jade and bronze sculpture. The English audio guide is worth the investment.

Not once in Shanghai did i use public transit — taxi everywhere. It’s so cheap. To flag a cab costs about a $1.50 and it stays at that rate for the first several minutes. Plus, they’re omnipresent.

The food scene in Shanghai is solid and cosmopolitan. With locals I ate authentic Shanghai dumplings and noodles and tried as hard as I could to stay away from spicy stuff, which I don’t like. On my own I patronized Pizza Hut, which was fantastic, and the place across from my apartment at least three times. "Steak King" serves Western food and Chinese food. I often got both: some dim sum plus a steak, for example. And who knew kiwi juice could taste so good? One night I ate with Eisen’s family in their apartment, sans Eisen since he was traveling. The Mom is so nice and so Taiwanese. I love how every Chinese family has a massive rice cooker which seems bottomless.

Two of my days were punctuated by lengthy workouts at Fitness First in Plaza 66. It’s a huge facility and one time I got lucky and watched "Meet the Parents" while on the elliptical. So many great lines in that movie.

The one frustration with my apartment was the lack of breakfast. Each morning I trekked out and tried to find breakfast. (I also searched in grocery stores for cereal to stock the fridge but with no success). Until I found a hole in the wall buffet style Chinese breakfast, this caused daily morning stress. I also had to eat a LOT of food because I now know my malaria medicine only works on a really full stomach and lots of water (I take my pills in morning).

All in all, Shanghai is the business and financial center of China boasts tons of tourist infrastructure, and is relatively easy to navigate. This doesn’t mean it’s exempt from all the troubles which plague China (more on that later), but I can see why many expats choose to live and work in Shanghai. As i’ve said before, some cities are good to visit, some good to live, some both. Beijing has more slam dunk tourist attractions, Shanghai may be a better living destination.

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