Like a lot of trips, on the last day, we are ready to come home and it seems like we have just scratched the surface and would like to stay for another month. We spent the day doing some standard tourist things like going to the Shanghai Museum. Everybody says that the Shanghai Museum is one of the must sees and I am sure it is and I am glad we went but, after a while (a very short while for me), one stone seal looks like the next stone seal.
For lunch, we went back to a dumpling shop that Michele had found that specializes in a Shanghai dumpling called Xiaolong Bao, or XLBs to the cognoscente. The place (the first one listed under XLB's here) is really a hole in the wall, but the constant line (with Michele in it) in front is a give away.
I was sort of hoping that the XLBs would be no better than the Bay Area, but even I had to admit they were fabulous – especially the crab.
That same article had mentioned another sort of dumpling (Shengjian), and we saw the long line across the street at a place that serverd those, we we decided we needed to try those as well. We were so glad we did, and when we got back to our room, we discovered that the New York Times agreed that this was a particularly good spot as well.
After wandering around for a while, including the French Concession area, we ended the day looking at the view from the SWFC Observatory . This is touted as the tallest building in the world and the viewing area is on top of the open spot (that Michele observed looks like a bottle opener) and has a glass floor on the sides and in a glass strip down the middle. It really is physically difficult to walk to the windows over the glass. The attendants who guide the visitors to and from the elevators are wearing semi Startrek uniforms and the whole experience is very other worldly. And the view is great – even through the Shanghai smog.
It is going to take a while to digest this trip but a few quick observations:
China is a place of contrasts – with the gain turned way up. In the cab ride from our hotel to People's Square, we drive by miles of incredibly shabby 20 story apartments mixed with new, clean, apartments.
There are beggars, but very few. Much less than in San Francisco. By and large, the people look prosperous – we did not see any grinding poverty but almost everything is shabby. For a big percentage of people, life is lived in public – on the street. Stores stay open for long hours, and, when we walk by at dinner time and look in, we can see the whole family eating – squatted on the floor – in the back.
The pollution is oppressive. I have had a sore throat since we left Hong Kong. At first I thought I was coming down with a cold, then I realized it is just the air. I lived in LA in the late 50's and it was nothing compared to this.
Ridley Scott had it down pat in Blade Runner. (Except the umbrella handles don't light up and there are still no flying cars).