Thursday, 3 March 2016

February 26th - Shanghai and our last supper

Our group day started at 8:45 am.  With a subway ride to Shanghai's oldest garden - Yuyuan Garden - and shopping center. It appeared that we have got this subway experience figured out - at least I had thought so. Ricky noted that given we had already seen one garden we may not wish to see this one, so he suggested that we enjoy shopping and to try the famous soup dumplings. We could also attend a Chinese Tea Ceremony. I chose to skip the tea.

Ricky had pointed out the famous dumpling location so Haydn, my Aussie friend, and I decided to get in the cue at 9:50. The line was the slowest moving cue ever - it took a full hour for us to get our dumplings. We didn't know what kind we were getting and had hoped to get a large one and a selection of small. Large dumplings are sold with a straw to pierce the dumpling and suck out the soup. We handed over our money and after waiting so long, took whatever we could get. Two sets of 15 small dumplings each. Luckily they were delicious and I took a picture before they were all gone. Standing in the cue wasn't a total waste of time as it provided it's own entertainment: an argument started right beside us over someone cue jumping. We also found out that you could go into the sit down restaurant and place an order for $80 yuan - it is $15 yuan if you stand in line. Stephen, my Scottish tour friend, regularly dropped by to note our lack of progress and eventually bought one set of dumplings off of me at the end. I'm still unsure what kind of dumplings I had, but I would certainly have them again .

This shopping location is decorated for the new year, and is one of the oldest locations in Shanghai  (the gardens are 400 yrs old.) Even in the shops you can bicker over prices. The decor meets my expectations of a China town in the middle of China. I finished up my shopping and met up with the group for lunch.

We went to a large restaurant, which was similar to a buffet, you pick up your choices of dishes (over 100) and pay at the end. Maureen(Irish tour buddy) and I decided to share a couple items. We sat with a few others in our group and a Chinese lady started taking pictures and videos of us. She then came over and showed Shiela, (another Irish tour buddy)how to hold chopsticks  (which she has been doing very well for the past week). After awhile this lady came up behind Shiela and wrapped something around her neck. Initially we didn't know what was happening - this strange woman was standing behind Shiela, wrapping something around her neck....strangling her? It was a string of pearls! Were they were real - maybe - who knows? Either way it was another interesting experience in China.

Off to the subway again lunch. It's busier again. We attempt to get on the subway train with our grouo divided between three separate entrances but it's packed. Dorothy, fellow Canadian, gets in but her backpack gets caught in the door. The door beeps and opens again to allow Dorothy to get completely in - and this also allows Stephen and Haydn a second chance to get on. Haydn didn't step on - he barreled in making room for Stephen as well. Because we were packed like sardines Dorothy remained upright even with the super force of Haydn and Stephen.

On to the highest observatory in the world. We take an elevator up to the 97th floor - it moves of a rate of 8 meters a second! We then take an escalator and another elevator to the 100th floor. It was a hazy day, perhaps the haze was pollution.

Supper at Yuxin Sichuan Restaurant. This is our last supper. The tour is officially over. Tomorrow I go home, but very few other people are. Others are continuing their journeys in China and other countries. Ricky ordered a variety of dishes. Many of them were very spicy. We had lamb chops, smoked duck, Hung Pow Chicken, dumplings and many many more dishes. Ricky gave a nice farewell speech and Sophie presented Ricky with his tip money and a T-shirt she and Kirsten had bought that had a group shot of us at the Bund prinsed on it. Ricky seemed very pleased. He reminded us that we all had his phone number for use in the future - not only our use but for friends and family who may be in China and need some assistance.

We then took a cruise with Huangpu River tours in the evening. We were able to see the skyline lit up.

We taxied back and a group of us went to a nightclub for one last outing. Ricky chose the location but also noted he had never been there. When our group of 9 arrived we were escorted in, placed at a center table and were told drinks were on the house. On our table full bottles of gin, vodka, rum - and a couple more, pitchers of coke and sprite, and a tray of fruit, peanuts, etc.  There was live music, dancing girls and guys, techno music and flashing lightshow. People appeared to be dancing whereever they wanted and as more men were present, men were dancing by themselves and in small groups. It appeared this was a club of the more affluent people, the ages were primarily young but several 40's were present. I'm pretty sure that I was the oldest person, but given no one pointed that out - it was great.

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