Thursday, August 5, 2010

Day 10. Trip to Shanghai

Luke is not a happy pup. He has been a bit constipated throughout the trip, but today in the morning his constipation reached its high point and he was not feeling well. We will have to stop by the pharmacy in Shanghai and get him a mild laxative.

We had arranged for a private ride to the Guilin airport, and our driver showed up punctually at 8 am. I had arranged the drive through a travel agency, so I imagine she makes her car available for this kind of drive to the airport to supplement her income. She was driving a new and immaculate VW Golf, and was a most careful driver. Having said that, a careful driver has to adjust herself to the rules of the road, weaving in and out of traffic, or pushing for her turn at an intersection in the face of formidable odds.

We made the 60 km trip to the airport in good time, and arrived with two hours of free time before our flight. The flight itself was uneventful, but different in that this time I got a window seat (I much prefer aisle), and there were no clouds or haze so I was able to look at the landscape. The Yangtze River (or Chang Jiang in Chinese) is absolutely enormous, broadening to more than 1 km as it approaches the sea. All around it are wetlands, shipyards, peers, and warehouses, as witnesses of the importance of this port to the flow of goods from China to the world and viceversa.

Landing at Shanghai it took us but a minute to figure the metro system, and armed with Special Expo 2010 passes, good for many trips, we zipped to downtown and our hostel with no problem. Well, there were a couple of moments of indecision, but a kind passerby quickly put us in the right path (Luke and I have reflected that throughout this trip we have been very fortunate to find kind people that have made the effort to talk to us and help us with the little hiccups).

After we checked in at the hostel we went to take care of two important businesses. First, get money from the ATM (I was successful but Luke was not; it may be that he chose savings account instead of checking, so he will try again tomorrow), and second get some sort of laxative for Luke. The latter was a lot of fun, because the young woman at the pharmacy really got into the charades game with us, and you can imagine that mimicking constipation and its cure has infinite potential for having fun.

Later we walked to the entrance to the Expo, but figured it was already too late to get our 90 yen worth of fun. We will do it tomorrow. Instead we took the metro to Nanjing Rd,, which is the shopping street of Shanghai. The color, light, and glitz are incredible! Girls, here you could get your dream job, and become a shopping consultant for country bumpkins (yes, we looked enough like country bumpkins that more than once we were offered the services of a guide to take us shopping). Christine, you have to come to Nanjing Rd.!

From there we walked to The Bund, a term used by early European traders to refer to the muddy banks of the Huangpu River, a tributary of the Yangtze River that divides Shanghai in the old (west of the river) and the new (east of the river). Here it was that the big trading houses built their warehouses and offices, and eventually these early monuments were transformed into banks and houses of exchange, until The Bund became the financial heart of the city. The river is no longer allowed to run naturally. Instead an impressive water front has been built, such that the river now runs higher than Nanjing Rd. The walking avenue on top of the dike is a super popular walk for residents and tourists alike, to catch the evening breeze, gawk at the neon lights of the new Shanghai, gawk at the old architecture of The Bund, and take millions of pictures. We did our share of picture taking, but finally gave up and headed to our well deserved rest.

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