Sunday, August 15, 2010

August15, Shanghai

Yesterday was quite a day. The girls, Chang and Aven, had tickets for Expo and left the hotel around 4am. Joan and I had booked an English speaking tour of Shanghai. The temp was already 87F when we headed out to make our connection. We taxied to a large downtown hotel near the convention center. The driver did not know the way and Joan navigated with her map and translation book. We had to walk along the riverfront to get to the site. It was beautiful. The skyline is very pretty. We saw several cruise ships and other large excursion boats. If you are a cruiser, you would have recognized the "good morning" chimes and the captain's morning announcement. We felt like we were aboard.

We met our guide, Even, or should I say, she found us sitting in the hotel looking lost. We should have known she was our guide-she was wearing a NY Yankees hat! She had one of those great voices that was very melodic. I could have curled up and taken a nap as she told us what we were seeing. Our first stop was a shopping area. Even warned us that this area was only good for trinkets and souvenir things. She said not to buy silk, jade, or name brand things. They were knockoffs. Sure enough, before I was 10 feet from the bus, I had an offer for a set of Mont Blanc pens AND a Rolex for 400yuan. He then lowered the price to 200. What a deal! A Rolex and Mont Blancs for only $30US.

We then went to Yu Gardens. These gardens were built by a private individual for his family. They were built around 1500's. They offered the kind of buildings and rock/flower gardens that you become used to in China. One interesting thing was the roof decoration. Each building roof had stone characters telling different stories. We saw fishermen, warriors, seers, poets, etc. We also learned that the 3 toed dragon was meant to show that the dragon, while powerful, was not as powerful as the emperor who has 5 toes. By the way. What is a dragon's favorite meal? ( Answer at end of entry) We were at the gardens early and the crowd was still small.

We then made our way to an area called the French Concession. This area has been rebuilt and has many, upscale bars and eateries. The streets are very narrow and the food is very high priced. We found a Starbucks and the iced coffee really hit the spot. Shanghai claims to have 4 gifts, beautiful gardens, beautiful girls, beautiful pearls, and beautiful silk. At the French Concession, we saw a lot of the second.

Stop #3 was a pearl center. Our guide demonstrated how to open oysters and the difference between fresh water a salt water pearls. Salt water oysters contain a single pearl and are smaller. Fresh water can contain many. We also learned that there are many colors of pearls. I knew about white, pink, and black but had never seen purple, silver, or blue.

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