Shanghai Day 1

We slept in until 9am and then swapped around our schedule some since the chance of rain is less today than tomorrow.

After picking up a large Starbucks coffee near the subway station (¥23), we started the day by taking the subway (¥6) to Nanjing East Road (南京东路站) and then walking to the Bund (外滩). We stopped in the beautiful, historic Peace Hotel before reaching the Bund. Unfortunately, the roof – the site of an Amazing Race pitstop – is not open to the public (special events only, per the concierge).

Can you find the Chinese flag? How about the other 13 Chinese flags?
Once at the Bund we walked to the Monument to the People’s Heroes (人民英雄纪念塔) and the historic Garden Bridge (外白渡桥) before heading in the other direction to the signal tower (外滩信号台) which was closed without explanation.
Outside the closed Bund Signal Tower (Amazing Race pitstop, Season 21, Leg 1)
The entire Bund scenery was a bit marred by all of the smog/pollution (peaking around 175 on the Air Quality Index) in the air. It was also oppressively hot, with a temperature of 96°F and a high humidity that made it feel like 104°F.

After exploring the Bund for a while, we walked towards Yuyuan gardens (豫园). We ate at the well-recommended dumpling restaurant NanXiang Steamed Bun Restaurant. Our soup (one mushroom, one egg and meat), spring rolls, and dumplings (6 beef, 6 shrimp) were all good, albeit a bit expensive (meal total ¥175 or around $30). Our black tea was bottled, whereas we expected hot brewed tea. And the servers all seemed impatient and grumpy. But this was probably a good introduction to dumplings, and was the first Chinese meal in China that Katie actually enjoyed. We were two of only a few non-Chinese in the restaurant, which made it feel more “legitimate”. Note: In the dining room we ate in, there is a ¥80/person minimum.

After lunch, we walked across the well-known zigzag bridge – supposedly designed this way to help “foil” evil spirits/ghosts following you. Since, as you know, spirits/ghosts cannot make turns (This is supposedly the real reason!)

Which store sticks out the most to you, in this ancient garden?
After walking around a bit, we stopped by for a Blizzard at the Dairy Queen in the gardens (¥30). Despite the heat, the Blizzard passed the upside-down test.
Then, instead of paying to enter the actual gardens, we decided to walk around the bazaar around Yuyuan Gardens. People were really aggressive and annoying in trying to sell watches, bags, and pearls. This got really old.
But we followed a Lonely Planet walking tour that took us along some residential alleys, which was neat, but we felt like we were intruding in people’s lives a bit.
JT was interested to find a shop where a guy was drying raw green tea leaves by hand on an open wok. So, we bought some (fresh but probably overpriced at ¥35 for a small bin) tea leaves for us to use on our trip.

As we headed towards People’s Square, it started to downpour. We stopped at a tea shop “Happiness Maker”, and sat and drank cold mint, lemon, and bubble teas (¥12-15 each) as we waited out the storm for a few hours. We eventually moved down the street to a McDonalds closer to a subway station and waited there for a bit. Normally we are not such wimps about rain, but neither of us want wet shoes for the next few days! Katie’s shoes survived well, but JT’s became soaked through to the socks, causing some blisters during the ensuing walk home.

We eventually made it back to Greg and Sara’s apartment, where they had gnocchi waiting for us! They remembered that we mentioned the previous night that we had a craving for Italian – and they delivered! It was a great end to a hectic day!

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