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Friday, February 11, 2011

Back streets of China

Have you ever loved a TV show so much that your name has been called over the airport intercom because you're late to board your flight... because you're watching it?! Me neither! Until, this morning! Aaron and I were so enthralled with Modern Family that we completely missed our boarding call! Luckily, we made it to our gate, right in time! :)

The plane next to us sported a lovely full size mural of Korea's favorite video game - good old' Starcraft!

Our flight to Shanghai was fairly non eventful, which is never a bad thing when you're referring to a flight, right?!

We arrived in Shanghai at around 1:20pm, with 9 hours to play around before our flight to Bangkok! Our first stop was immigration, where contrary to most web threads referring to American's getting VISA's into China for $250.00, we got in for free for the day! Such a fun surprise!

Next stop was the Maglev train, which as you can probably guess from it's name, literally levitates, magnetically, off the ground!  If you look across the front of the train, you'll notice the unfortunate birds that had collided with it!

...not only does it levitate off the ground as it goes, it reaches speeds of 367 miles per hour! Our train got up to 301 kms per hour, which is about 187 miles per hour... which was fast enough for me!

The train stopped in one of the subway stations, so after asking a Chinese man where the skyscrapers were (by saying, "Tall buildings... where?") we were advised to transfer to an area called "The Bun" where some of Shanghai's most famous skyscrapers stand!

He had sent us to just the right area!  This building is GIGANTIC!  Look closely and you can see the teeny tiny people at the base of it's stairs off in the distance!

We walked around for quite a while in this area...

... and even checked out the local Super Brand Mall, which as soon as we walked in, we walked out! Who goes to China to hang out in a Western mall?!  Not us!

Since we didn't have a plan of where to go while we were in Shanghai, we stopped a young Chinese couple (who luckily spoke a little bit of English) and asked where an old area of the city was! They were soooo nice and ended us flagging down this taxi and telling the driver where to take us!

As a side note: Every taxi driver in Shanghai has a huge plexiglass barrier around him!

... some even have touch screen maps, TV shows, games, etc for the passengers!  Korea needs to step up their game when it comes to taxi entertainment! 

Luckily, the taxi driver took us to just the type of place we were looking to find in Shanghai!  We're suckers for old, authentic markets! 

Aaron bought some fried "whole crab on a stick" (with the shell intact)!!  It was literally crabs dipped in batter and deep fried - pinchers and all!  It was a first for both of us!  Quite tasty, actually!

I stopped this darling little girl to take her picture and her mom told her to say "Thank you" to Aaron and I for asking to take her picture! I loved this, because in Korea, no one thanks you for taking their picture, because they hate their picture taken!! :)

The market here boasted all sorts of strange foods - fried, boiled, raw, stir fried, you name it!!

... and gorgeous fruit arrangements for pennies on the dollar!

We ducked into one of the alleys and gave ourselves a tour of how the locals live in the old section of Shanghai!

It was a photographers heaven as far as we were concerned!  Talk about a neighborhood with character!  As we were walking through, we could see into the tiny windows where old Chinese women were crouched over their stovetops cooking that nights meal! 

We came out on the other end of the market and were freezing! It was quite cold and we were not exactly dressed appropriately for the weather, so we jumped on the first bus that stopped!  For 20 cents a ride, we figured it was a great way to see the city, and thaw out, on the cheap!

We got off the bus here, hoping to find a little coffee shop to duck into...

... instead, we lucked out and found a great Chinese restaurant...

... with a beautiful view of part of the city!

I'm partial, but I personally preferred this view! :)

We shared some delicious bread, fried noodles, and...

 drum roll please.... FRIED BULL FROGS! This is not a joke! We really did and we actually ate them! I'm uploading a video that I'll include in my next blog to prove it! :)

After finishing our huge bowl of fried bull frogs, we grabbed a taxi and headed for the Radisson hotel's skyview bar to get a nice night time view of the city!

Unfortunately, my pictures didn't turn out... booo! The bar was really cool though and had a 180 degree view of the city, from the 47th floor!

As we were leaving the bar, Aaron asked the bar tender what the area was called where you could see all the skyscrapers from across the river! He quickly grabbed a piece of paper, jotted down something in Chinese and told us to give it to a taxi driver! Low and behold, he had written down the exact spot we had wanted to see!

As if that view wasn't beautiful enough, look what was behind us!  

It was like being in Asia and Europe at the same time!
It was absolutely gorgeous, and an awesome end to our trip in Shanghai!

Can't wait for what tomorrow holds in Thailand and Cambodia!

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