Feed on

Days #1-5: Shanghai, China

Note: in the interest of time (or lack thereof), I’m writing these posts more in batch form and impressionistically vs. my usual day-by-day recap.

Days 1 & 2 were really all about the journey, having left home around 7:00am on Tuesday morning and arriving at our hotel around 8:30pm on Wednesday night. Given a good deal for miles on DeltaOne, we flew to Shanghai up front, which was a real treat for the gals (despite it being in one of Delta’s old 777 cabins before adding the suites).

I also booked us a 1 bedroom suite at the Marriott City Centre. Very nice room. This also proved to be a wise decision as some of us could sleep while others used the living room.

The transfer from airport (usual dystopian environment after spending half a day on a plane) to the hotel was very smooth. After dropping off our luggage, we went to Starbucks for a coffee and headed out to the neon lights of Nanjing Road to find some dinner (ate some really good, spicy Sichuan dishes).

The big challenge with this journey is getting onto the right sleep schedule. Emerson suffered the worst, as she got the best night’s sleep on the way over. Libby and I managed to fall asleep by 2 or and were up again by 6 or 7 (after a pretty restless night). Emerson didn’t sleep at all.

Day #3, which was Thursday, started with complimentary breakfast at the executive lounge (a great perk of my Marriott lifetime status). We then returned to the room and let Emerson sleep for about 3 hours before waking her up (really unwelcome!) and heading out for the day.

We didn’t do too much on Thursday — explored the area around The Bund & People’s Square and visited the Shanghai Museum. Honestly, our main mission was fighting exhaustion and staying awake during the day. Dinner was less successful this night–not that the food was bad. It’s just difficult to enjoy a meal on the verge of collapse. Indeed, even walking back to the hotel a few short blocks felt like a struggle.

We did have one of the funnier moments of the trip at the restaurant. The wait staff didn’t speak English. But, our waitress really wanted to ask us a question. When we didn’t understand the Chinese (despite speaking it too us more loudly), she got a piece of paper and then proceeded to write the question down in Chinese for us (as if that was likely to help). LOL

Thankfully, the Internet came through with real-time translation. Thus, we established that Emerson did not want ice in her water. And, as it turned out, she didn’t want the water either since it was “with bubbles.”

We were all fast asleep by 8:00pm or so.

Day #4 started early… I was up at one o’clock in the morning, and the girls weren’t too far behind me a couple of hours later. Today was our visit to Shanghai Disneyland. I booked our tickets online (quite cheap compared to US prices) and paid a bit more for early access to the park. This paid off as we were able to do many rides (some twice) first thing in the morning and then spent the rest of the day at a more leisurely pace moving around the park.

We had a late lunch at a Wolfgang Puck’s in their version of Disney Springs, called Disneytown. We also did some shopping there and had salted custard egg bao from Crystal Jade.

We left the park around 5:30 and made it back to the hotel by around 7:00 (traffic was heavy). Emerson fell asleep in the car, despite our best efforts to keep her up. We then fell asleep in the car, despite our best efforts to keep each other awake. Dinner consisted of snacks from the nearby convenience store, as we mostly just wanted to go to bed.

Day #5 saw us awake fairly early, which enabled us to grab coffees and a light breakfast at 6am. We then relaxed for a bit before heading out on a dumpling tour and class, which started at 10:30am. This was a blast. The food tasted excellent (the pan-fried soup dumplings were especially revelatory), and the dumpling-making class was a lot of fun too. We also had a nice, small group with us including a New Zealand / South African expat couple living and teaching in Shanghai.

After the tour, we wandered back to our hotel through the French Concession, which felt far more “Upper East Side” than “Midtown” to us. We didn’t see a lot of hotels (at least not big, international chains) in this area, but it looked like a nice spot for eating and drinking (not to mention a short walk to the exquisite dumpling and bao spots). We came upon a market that was oddly celebrating Thanksgiving, as well as a number of historically important sights related to the founding of the PRC (which admittedly were largely meaningless to us).

Dinner was a light meal from room service, as we still had many dumplings in our belly.

Overall, Shanghai was a joy despite our being in a bit of a jet lag induced fog. It’s probably not a fair comparison because I go to Beijing for business, not pleasure, but I personally liked it Shanghai a lot more. We could have probably used one more day to really see the city, but this worked out well. We’d happily come back here.

Leave a Reply