Shanghai was ready for this heat though, well, thanks to Pepsi, because as we started our walk down The Bund from our hotel, we passed the first item on the Stefon list:
Our first order of business was indeed walking down The Bund, the famous river-adjacent street that was once the city's Wall Street, where all the banks had grand historic buildings and is now filled with luxury brand stores. The water in the few convenience stores on the Bund is COSTLY, which says a great deal at least to me. One side of the Bund houses all the historic buildings, most of which have plaques sharing when in the grand old times this or that bank set up shop in what is now a fancy hotel or a Gucci. The other side is the Huangpu river and the view shared above, the famous skyline of Pudong, which has now taken over as the Wall Street-y section.
We decided after enough heatstroke-walking to get on the ferry to cross the river and go check out Pudong. A ferry ride seems like an appropriate early activity to see more of a city! There are of course expensive tourist boats that will take you cruising along the river, but, here's a tip, if you just want to hop over to the other side of the city, there's a regular commuter ferry that takes like 15 minutes and costs only 2 RMB! That's like a quarter! Cheapest transportation I've ever encountered. I love loved the warning sign outside the non-tourist (but still fine for tourists to take) ferry.
Not only does the Shanghai Tower have the highest occupied floor in the world, but it also has the fastest elevator in the world, designed by Mitsubishi, and the world's tallest single-lift elevator. I don't know how they are different, but they are. ALSO, most importantly for tourists, it has the world's highest skydeck, or observation deck! Amazingggg.
We were also super hungry - we hadn't eaten all day because HEAT but now it was like 4pm. Luckily, because this is Shanghai, the bottom floors of the Tower composed a retail space with lots of food court spaces. They even had a Bassett's ice cream cart, straight out of the Northeast USA! I found a ready-made salad place that I didn't realize wouldn't make new ones, so when I asked for the vegetarian one with no egg, they just took the egg out of the container. Lol. Oh well, roll with the things like this that happen while traveling, and give the parts that were touching the egg to the husband.
Oh, side note, that train, from Beijing to Shanghai! I didn't write a diary entry because it was just midnight to 8am. It was the fanciest train since St. Petersburg, very nice and clean, not smoky, and completely different from the other Chinese trains. They had slippers for everyone in plastic wrap! Each bed had a TV on the wall! If you book Chinese trains, try to get the G trains! (I think this is our only G, so sad.) So nice! BUT. But. We had the beds that were very first in our carriage, along the wall next to the door of the car. And for some reason, that means that the bones of the train, whatever fills the walls on those things, continued under our beds. So we didn't have storage! There was nothing under my bottom bunk but like metal! So infuriating, we were the people with the most luggage on board! Luckily, the other people in our cabin didn't have much so we stored under their beds. Not so luckily, one of those people had a child. See, in China, there are no laws, and so people do not buy seats or beds on trains for their children. (Oh is there a doozy of a story in this fashion coming soon.) So instead of sharing with two other people, we were sharing with three. (We also heard horror stories about how Chinese couples often don't buy two beds but will share one tiny bed, which is much worse and super inconsiderate to force a whole nother adult into a train compartment.) But the young man who was in the other bed was NOT excited to be forced to sleep with a baby, so when he realized that, he peaced out! I guess he got the conductor to find him a new spot because we didn't see him again. The baby was fine though. Cute! He made some noise in the night but like, so do I. That's all I have to say about that.
Hilariously, my favorite section of this museum covering so much of Chinese culture and history was...the special exhibit sent from Hungary on Princess Sissy. Sorrynotsorry.
But the location was good, because it led us through the Bund all the time. One night on our walk home, we stopped at the other historic old hotel, the Fairmount Peace Hotel, which really has that 1930s Shanghai feel, that film noirishness, complete with a hallway of movie posters with all the movies about that era, including a family favorite:
But those two actual acrobatic acts were indeed amazing. One was two men doing a partner routine full of handstands on top of each other that were mind-blowing enough but that culminated with one holding the other just by the head, just with his hand. I mean. HOW. The other impressive one was a woman and man doing a very sexually charged routine on a pole, which was hilarious because 90% of the audience was children, but it was like a ballet, clearly telling a story and powerfully so. They did a lot of that ahhh-I'm-slipping-down-the-pole-I'm-gonna-crash-into-the-ground-JUST-KIDDING-I-STOPPED-MYSELF-WITH-MY-QUADS-AN-INCH-ABOVE-GROUND stuff. So I'm really glad I got to see those two amazing bits. I just wish the whole show was that and not stupid touristy drivel.
Speaking of stupid touristy drivel, we were seated next to an older New Zealand man and we chatted for a little before the show started. He asked us how we ended up here, and I proceeded to share every last detail about our trip - 'we live in London and we flew to Helsinki and we took the Trans Mongolian train route through Russia and saw a lot of Russia and Siberia then we toured Mongolia and then we ended that train route in Beijing and we saw Beijing and now we're in Shanghai also I had a UTI and diarrhea in Mongolia and my favorite thing is Broadway and puppies and I really love puppies and I really need to wash my hair tonight.' Okay I didn't say all of that stuff but it sure felt like it when I finished talking about our route, and his response was, "I meant how did you choose to see this show."
I died, I am dead now.
The best part about the show was not even those two good bits though. It was the theatre's location in the fancy pants Centre that we lovingly referred to as Expat Centre. It had EVERYTHING you could possibly want as an expat living in Shanghai, and I think that's where lots of them do indeed live. First of all, the main part of the Centre is not the theatre, but is the giant Ritz Carlton Hotel - a beautiful fancy hotel (I used their bathroom of course) but it also has two residence blocks attached! Can you imagine being an expat in Shanghai and living in the Ritz residence building? Dayummm son! Okay, so not only is there that, but in the basement of the whole place is a fancy pants supermarket with all kinds of imported recognizable goods, and a Godiva ice cream stand. In the market. And a lot of fresh fruit and even green juice! Then, on one side of the Centre, is a Starbucks, several legit tea shops and juice stands, many fancy Chinese restaurants, many casual and good-looking Chinese and non-Chinese restaurants, a paella cafe, A VEGAN RESTAURANT (next post), an HSBC (our bank), a Parkway Health Clinic - the expat-focused medical practice I went to in Beijing!, a Parkway Health DENTAL Clinic, a massage parlor, a gym, literally everything you could want. If I lived there I would never leave the complex. I'd never have to! It was hilarious. Every corner we turned we'd find something else that would make us thing we were in London.
So, we really enjoyed our time in Shanghai overall, despite the heat, though we didn't do that much in our limited time. We both agreed that we would happily (and relatively easily) return here from London in the future, if for no other reason than the food. The food was amaaazing. That's the next post! You'll have to read that one to find out what toon bags are!