It’s 3pm and 100 degrees in Shanghai. I haven’t felt the heat, though, because I’ve been in my hotel room all day. I got the sniffles last night in People’s Park, and by 10pm my head was aching. Oh, what a rough night. I’ve slept all day except for eating and drinking. My sweetie says colds in China only last three days. Let’s hope he’s right.
Shanghai, oh Shanghai. This is what I thought China would be like. Yes, Wuhan was busy and dirty and strange, but Shanghai feels like what I’ve been waiting for. There are more old buildings here, more barkers and food vendors and people just going about their business. And just more people. 23 million. Possibly the biggest city in the world. It feels very international here–the effects of European “concessions” on the architecture make it seem a little less foreign, which, after being in China for four weeks, is welcome.
We are staying in a very cool youth hostel called Blue Mountain Youth Hostel Bund. It’s near Nanjing Road, a huge pedestrian district on the edge of the Bund, an area on the Huangpu River that was occupied by Europeans in the late 1800’s after the Opium Wars. Across the river from the Bund is Pudong, sort of like the Wall Street of Shanghai. The super-tall modern buildings in Pudong were supposed to be lit up last night, but because of the heat wave and the huge draw on electricity A/C has, there were no fancy lights. I thought that when we came to Shanghai from Wuhan, we’d be coming into some cooler weather. In fact, it did cool off for a few hours yesterday after a brief thunderstorm, but otherwise, the prediction for every day this week is 100 degrees. Yeow.
We’ve been lucky so far with air quality. There was’t a lot of smog in Wuhan, and when we were in Beijing, it had just rained, so the skies were clear. Here, though, is a different story. The air is dense like San Francisco fog, but it’s yellow and heavy, and there are no wisps blowing around in the breezes coming off the East China Sea. It’s still and thick and hard to breath. I took a shower yesterday afternoon, and within an hour, I was sweaty. With the help of a friend who has visited Shanghai before and knows some Chinese, our little group (my husband and several ESL teachers from the US) found our way to an excellent Indian restaurant via the subway. That was after riding the MagLev train from Pudong airport half-way into town–the fastest train in the world. We got up to 302 km/hr. Amazing. One way to stay cool is to ride the subway and drink lots of Happy Lemon Lemonade, which we did. We also hung out in People’s Park with middle-aged Chinese parents trying to find suitable mates for their sons and daughters, sort of like speed dating with a Chinese twist. We also rode bumper cars, and a few members of our group rode on the Qin Dragon, a scary, tilting, twirling ride that I decided to sit out. What a day. More when I feel better.