Hecticity Tour Part II made its way to Shanghai, China over the weekend – thanks in large part to Cebu Pacific’s low fare promo and Emperor Eric’s prodding and very efficient planning. This tour, though not as hectic Rampaging in Beijing in October of last year, proved to be a very pleasant surprise for all of us. Not so much with the food (everything swims in oil in this place, no wonder we all gained unwanted lbs in just 3 days – epic fail!) or the breathtaking skyline at The Bund — but the people we’ve encountered. Looking past the language barrier – ordering food is such a hassle for non-Mandarin speaking people like us – everyone was generally nice, sweet and accommodating. We especially love the cute kids and their disarming smile – which were all captured very prettily by Eric using his camera.
Compared with Beijing, we had lesser photos this trip but that doesn’t mean the fun and frivolity were any less. Eric, Aldz, Cris, and I had a great time and it was just what we needed to recharge.
So how about we go through my list of Things I Love(d) About Shanghai?
1. Lush gardens with flowers of every imaginable color — We were lucky to have arrived at Shanghai just after winter and the flowers have started to come out in full bloom. Cris, being a flower expert himself, knew most of the flower species and it is most entertaining to see his eyes glaze over when he sees his favorite tree or flower. True, we probably only saw Shanghai on the surface – What can we do? Three full days were all that we had! – but that surface, I must tell you, looks very good. In fact, I think we saw more flowers and trees in Shanghai than in Beijing. With everyone so busy running around in Shanghai working and chasing after dreams of financial wealth, it amazes me how they still find time to work on (the) urban aesthetics.
2. Warm and accommodating people — This one’s a very pleasant surprise for us, especially coming from a not-so-pleasant experience with the Beijingians. In Beijing subways, we saw how people would push other people – never mind if they’re old or pregnant – just to make it inside the train before the door closes. In Shanghai, however, people are more considerate and less rough even in the subway. We even saw passengers forming a queue at the SuZhou train/railway station when we went there for a day tour!
3. Which brings us to my third favorite thing in Shanghai, the bullet train! — On our second day, Emperor Eric urged us to go on a day tour in the outskirts of Shanghai to check out some of the cultural sites. We hopped on the bullet train and got off at the SuZhou station where we paid 125RMB each for a tour. The train was very clean; the seats were ultra comfortable; and the leg room is so wide you can play hopscotch if you want to! The train went as fast as 305km/hour and we didn’t even feel a bump! We paid 41RMB each for the train ride – currency well-spent, I must say!
4. Happy, shiny, cute chinky-eyed kids — I love kids but only the really cute ones and the fact that Shanghai gave us this in abundance made this trip a good one for me! Without actually meaning to, Eric was able to create a baby photo album with about 10 Chinese kids in all shades of happiness. They are a natural when posing for the camera – no weird poses or diva attitude most kids these days take to. The parents are exceptionally nice too! They don’t turn us away when we request for photos to be taken of their beautiful kids. They even encourage the young ones to smile for the camera or say xie xie to us after.
5. Polite cab drivers — We took a few cab rides while there and we never had any encounter with the crocodile kind and that for us is a major plus! We only show the map where we have encircled the place/address we want to go to and off we go! They even give us exact change, how cool is that?!
6. The freshest, yummiest strawberries and grapes I have ever tasted! The photos say it all, I think. One bite and the sweet, fresh juices explode in your mouth like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. And it’s cheap at 10yuan a kilo!
7. Sights, sounds, and the ultra-vibrant nightlife — Although we’re not much of a partyphile (Aldz and I opted to just stay in the hotel on our first night; I transferred photos to my laptop and crashed out), the glitz and glamour of the city did not escape us. After all, Shanghai is not called the Paris of the East for nothing. On our second night, while temperature was unforgiving at 10 degrees, we went out to the shopping district so Aldz can check out Zara and a few other shops while Cris and I amused ourselves (by) people-watching.
9. Set aside the fact that China has over 1 billion people (India is fast catching up, we all know that), it may come as a surprise to many that there are so many places where one can hie-off to and go zen-like. It could be the trees and flowers and temples or the general feeling of security — Shanghai has truly debunked all our pre-conceived ideas and boy are we glad!
10. And lastly, I love Shanghai because it made me do the one crazy thing I NEVER thought I had the intestinal fortitude to do — be strapped on a seat and get thrown waaaay up, only to get plunged back to earth within seconds! And for this, I also give much credit to Cris because he was the one who bamboozled me to do it. I really did NOT want to given that I pee my skivvies at the mere thought of riding a ferris wheel or anything remotely similar, but when he said ‘Sige na! Si Aldz nga sasakay eh!’ I was trapped! I gotta tell you, the thing has not even moved a fraction yet but I was already screaming like a cat giving birth to a pony! And I continued screaming with tears streaming down my face at one point, until the 3-minute ordeal ended.