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Arrival in China - First Impression

Saturday, May 23, 2009 – Arrival Day
After a short lay-over in Tokyo, I was off to Shanghai. Again when we landed the Chinese Health Officials boarded the plane. This time they took everyone’s temperature to see if anyone had a fever. This process took a little longer but there was minimal inconvenience. Arriving in the Shanghai Airport, the first thing I noticed was how clean and new everything was. The airport is very nice, not like the airports in India (where I was in January 2008). Getting off the plane and going through customs was a breeze. I arrived at my hotel in downtown Shanghai by 23:00. For Saturday night, me and 3 others on the trip stayed at the JW Marriott – talk about a nice hotel! When we arrived, we got situated in our rooms and then went out for a drink at the Barbarossa Lounge. It was a nice bar with a lot of ex-pats. After 1 drink, we were all very tired and went back to the hotel.

Sunday, May 24, 2009
On Sunday, I woke up at 5:00 a.m. after only 4 hours of sleep. I was wide awake. After showering and having some food – I worked out and met up with the others. We went exploring Shanghai down the Nanjing Dong Pedestrian Mall. DSCN0110.JPG

It didn’t take long for us to attract a “salesperson”. He wanted to know if we wanted a watch, purse, t-shirts or DVD’s. He followed us for about 20-30 minutes and finally Stefanie and Carolina decided to go look at what he had. We went down a back alley and into their store. We went through a small front room into a back room. They closed the door behind us. In there were knock-off watches, purses, wallets, etc. Carolina looked at a watch and bargained hard and left with a fake Rolex for almost nothing – we will see how long it works!

After a while, we reached the Huangpu River and took the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel which brings you to the other side of the river. The Tunnel is like a laser light show. It was very unique and interesting. The Bund was at the heart of colonial Shanghai and most of the buildings are still in place. We took a nice walk along the River Promenade. There was a lot of traffic on the river for a Sunday. After an hour or so, we decided to head back to the hotel. After a short lunch at the Mo’Jo Café we left the Marriott and headed to the Cypress Hotel which will be my home for the next 2 weeks.

After a short and very cheap cab ride to the hotel, we did some exploring around the hotel. Within walking distance, there is almost NOTHING! The only thing close is the Shanghai Zoo. The reason for staying here is it is right next to Cheung Kong University where all our class sessions are. The good news is the cabs are cheap so we will be taking them a lot. After our walk, I was very tired and went back to my room for a quick cat before our dinner out with the CK students. Unfortunately, my quick nap turned into almost over-sleeping. Thank goodness one of the other students called me and woke me up.

We went to dinner at the Big Bamboo Bar. This is an American sports bar. I had a burger for dinner (really adventurous, huh?). Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately – I am sure I will have more on this later) there was no authentic Chinese food on the menu. I think we will get that on Monday night. I had a good time and met some of the CK students. One of the more interesting things at the bar was the fascination with Formula 1 racing. There was a race while we were there and it was on every TV. Entire families were mesmerized by the race. Not my idea of entertainment – watching cars go around and around – but they probably say the same about us with baseball!