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Kevin O'Connell

Shanghai is the largest city I have ever been to--both in the sheer size of the city and also in population. When we were first driving into Shanghai I was in awe of the architecture. Everywhere I looked I saw big, bigger, and even bigger buildings. I imagine that New York City looks very much like Shanghai except on a smaller scale. We arrived in the middle of the day and traffic was still terrible. I can't fathom what rush hour would be like in Shanghai. Our tour guide, DJ Joe, said that if one lived twenty minutes outside of downtown, it would take them about 2 ½ to 3 hours to get to work each day. Since that is the case it is no surprise that real estate in downtown is far more expensive than property outside the city.

Shanghai was the most 'Western' city we traveled to on the trip. It was by far the most developed city (from what we saw). Every bathroom that I went to had western toilets--I'm sure the girls in the group were very happy about this. It had a new and intricate public transportation system. We took the subway our first day in the city which was a lot of fun. That was the first time I had ever been on a subway train. Even though the city was very developed there was still quite a bit of construction going on. It made driving around downtown a hassle--especially for our big tour bus.

For me, there were two places we went to in Shanghai that were truly amazing. On the first night we went on an evening cruise on the Yangtze River. The Shanghai skyline is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. One guy on our boat knew how memorable and beautiful the skyline is--he proposed to his girlfriend in the middle of the cruise (by the way, she said yes!). Every building on the river front was lit up. Some of the buildings had LED lights with fancy designs while others had TV displays. The cruise alone makes me want to go back to Shanghai in the near near future.

The other place we visited that stood out to me was the Shanghai World Financial Center. It is 492 meters tall; at the time it was completed it was the second tallest building in the world. Currently, it has the world's highest observation deck. I'm not necessarily afraid of heights but they definitely get my heart racing, especially when I'm a mile high in the air!! Being at the top of the World Financial Center is something that I will never forget. You could see most of Shanghai. The only reason you couldn't see all of Shanghai is because the smog covered up some of the city. The building next to the World Financial Center is a skyscraper and we were looking straight down it! It was so cool to be able to stare down at a city of over 18 million people and just watch the traffic and the people move around.