Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Shanghai Surprise

Happy Birthday, Baby!

(Chase was staring at the gathering crowds)

Day 1:

We awoke Chase early on her first birthday. We had told her we would need to wake up early to catch a plane to Shanghai, but she still seemed surprised.

We sang happy birthday and gave her a couple of her presents.

We didn’t give them all to her because we had a plane to catch, and nothing seemed less fair than giving her a gift and then taking it away from her.

After a couple minutes playing with her presents, we moved on to breakfast.

And then we were off to catch our plane.

We arrived in Shanghai in the morning. After checking into the hotel, we hit the streets. We had read quite a bit about the Shanghai art scene and were keen to check it out. So we headed over to an area of town known for its galleries and artist studios.

It was amazing. Blocks and blocks of studio space filled with truly original, truly interesting art. We spent several hours there, taking it all in. The art was so good, that unfortunately other people noticed too – so the pieces started around $800 US, and only went up in price. The artists really weren’t open to coming down in price, as most vendors are in China, so Hubs and I were only able to afford a small pen and ink drawing on a cardboard role.

From there, we hopped a cab to the Bund.

After the Bund, we decided to visit the Shanghai Art Museum, which had a couple great exhibits, but stank of oil paint. The fumes were so bad it detracted from the experience. In need of a rest, we went up to the restaurant on the top floor and kicked back for a little while.

After that, we decided to go for a little walk and stumbled across a great pedestrian street.

From there, we headed to a Mexican restaurant, called the Badlands, and after stepping foot inside, we agreed we’d have a better meal if we just walked into any other restaurant in Shanghai. So we decided to take our chances and ended up wandering into a Cuban restaurant, which turned out to provide us with some of the best spicy food we’ve had in a while.

Exhausted, we headed back to the hotel, filled it with balloons...

... sang Happy Birthday one more time and then fell asleep.

Day 2:

Hubs had to work, so Chase and I explored Shanghai on our own.

Unfortunately it was raining. I headed to Gymboree in hopes there would be a morning class she could take advantage of… there wasn’t. So, as outdoor activities were out of the question, we headed for the Shanghai Museum.

The museum was massive, with four stories and three to four exhibitions on each floor. Some of my favorites included the Buddha, painting, furniture, Chinese currency and pottery exhibitions. After carrying Chase (who now weighs 10.4 kg, almost 25 lbs), and her baby bag (another 8 lbs), on and off for four hours, my back was literally breaking and my arms were weak. She, meanwhile, was enjoying a snooze.

So I called it a day and headed back to the hotel. We lazed about for the rest of the afternoon, watched the rain pouring down outside, and played with balloons. We checked out the lobby gift shop and the lobby quick stop (for a diet coke and snickers bar). Not much going on there.

But I kept hoping that if I rested for an afternoon, I would feel refreshed enough (and hopefully the rain would subside) in the morning so we could go out exploring again.

Day 3:

When I awoke, the rain had stopped and my back felt stronger. Chase and I headed to Shanghai’s Old Town ...

... and Yuyuan Gardens – which were magnificent. A rich Ming Dynasty family founded the gardens in 1559 and nurtured them into a glorious garden 18 years later. Unfortunately they were destroyed during the Opium War in the mid 1800s. They were then destroyed again by the French years later. They have since been restored and are absolutely beautiful – a real respite from the streets of Shanghai.

Inside the gardens there was also a lovely shop selling paintings, one of which I ended up buying for Chase’s room.

From there we ran back to the hotel to drop off the painting. While we were there, Chase caught a quick nap, and we were off again – this time to Doulun Cultural street, which had some lovely old houses as well as little shops to peruse.

And then we hopped a cab to the French Concession, where we paid a visit to Sun Yatsen’s former residence. Sun Yatsen, known as the “Father of the Revolution” or the “Father of the Republic,” did away with China’s monarchy and created a republic. His house was lovely and well preserved.

With not a moment to spare, we jumped back in a cab, met Hubs at the hotel and raced to the airport to catch our plane back to Dalian.

While Shanghai was lovely, I much preferred Hong Kong. Perhaps because I just have a stronger connection to the city after living there. The air was thick and heavy – again, not a place I’d want to be in the middle of the Summer, when temps reach upwards to 40 degrees Celsius. The noise and the pollution made me happy we were only there for a couple days – and even happier that we live in Dalian.

1 comment:

Bloom where you're planted said...

just wanted to say hi. went to frascati for dinner tonight (italian rest. on the lake we once ate at) and thought of you. hope you guys are doing well. sounds like you're enjoying Asia.
take care, lisa :)