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Monday, February 25, 2008

Shanghai, Nanjing & back home

Shanghai is a cool place!!!

The very first impression of Shanghai is that it is an amazing city. The metro works perfectly, it looks clean, people seem to be more "civilized" than in Kunming and it just gave us a good feeling. Our hostel was right on People's Square, very conveniently located near a metro stop. The first day we visited the China town in Shanghai (doesn't that sound great...). Nothing special, just some brand new old-style houses and an awful lot of Chinese tourists that buy the flimsy and way too expensive souvenirs that are for sale in the hundreds of stores :-)
After that we walked to Pudong, the island of Shanghai where all the skyscrapers are located. Prices for real estate are incredibly high around there as we found out after some window shopping at several real estate agencies. But the sights are great. Beautiful, huge buildings and very luxurious residential areas. Not good for your wallet, but pleasant enough to walk around. Right across the water from these skyscrapers is the boulevard known as the The Bund, old buildings dating back to the period of the English occupation of Shanghai. Quite a contrast!
The next day we had our most Western outing we ever had in China: we went to the Ikea!!! Of course we had the hotdogs with unlimited soda (5 RMB, single hotdog 3 RMB) as breakfast before we actually entered the store. The stuff at Ikea in China is almost identical to the things they have in Dutch Ikeas, so that wasn't very special. The best part of the visit was the lunch (Swedish meatballs of course...). Watching Chinese people trying to eat Western food is awesome. Scoping up an entire schnitzel with their fork, biting a piece off and putting the schnitzel back on their plate. Or they lift up a chicken wing, put it entirely in their mouths, slowly chew off the meat while the bone sticks out of their mouth and then spitting it back out on their fork... haha, great times! After that Shos found an H&M and went on a shopping spree and we concluded the night with a good, authentic Shanghainese meal in a restaurant recommended by the care taker of a public toilet :-)
The last day we went to the Shanghai Museum, a four story building dedicated to Chinese historical art. Although interesting, it was too much of the same and couldn't keep me inspired for too long. In the afternoon we took a train to Nanjing where we arrived at around 20.00, just in time to join the festivities of the Lantern Festival (15 days after Chinese New Year). The streets were crowded with people walking around, buying food and little things such as balloons or glow-in-the-dark devil ears... And it was actually arranged very well. The police blocked several streets, turning them into one-way streets, forcing people to follow the crowds and walk around in loops instead of running into each other! Good Job Nanjing!!!

The next day we went to Sun Yat-Sen's mausoleum located in a nature park on a mountain just east of town. And here Shos and I realized that we have been to too many Chinese sights, temples and parks... although it was pretty nice to see and read about the things Sun Yat-Sen has done, it was too Chinese in a way that most of it was glorified and made to look like the Communist Party and Sun Yat-Sen agreed on "everything". No big deal, but very, very, very Chinese ;-)
And Saturday we flew back. So now we're back in Kunming, cleaning our apartment, enjoying Yunanese food and seeing our friends again. This week I also start working again and start Chinese classes! More on that the next time!


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