|From May Holiday - Day 8 - Shanghai|
We awoke this morning, but had to wait around on our laundry to finish. For some reason, our hostel took 2 and a half days to do our laundry. We had pre-purchased tickets for Alice and Wonderland in 3D at Xin Tian Di Cineplex, so we took a quick cab over there to see the movie. Great film if you haven’t seen it. I downloaded the book and plan on reading it after I finish my current book. I have started downloading some of the classics on my Kindle, so I’m reading Gulliver’s Travels right now and plan to read Alice afterward. As a kid, I didn’t quite have the love for reading as I do as an adult.
Our next adventure was to find the Hard Rock Café Shop and try and find a t-shirt. The HRC of Shanghai closed in February, but there was a store that still sold the merchandise. After roaming around for 45 minutes trying to find it, we discovered that it had already been converted into another store. What was fascinating was that they had closed down the entire street around the Shanghai Center. I believe some high ranking officials or someone obviously more important that us were exiting the center and probably on the way to the EXPO.
If you haven’t checked the 2010 Shanghai EXPO online, please do. We bought tickets today for only Sunday. We will only have about 6 hours to walk around the EXPO, but I believe it will be well worth the cost of the tickets. The Chinese government has pumped in around 40 billion dollars into the EXPO, more than what they spent for the Olympics. 194 countries have built pavilions, some amazing beautiful, artsy, or architecturally unique. Our goal on Sunday is to see as many as possible, but the EXPO covers a rather large area, so I doubt we’ll be able to see even half of them.
We are sitting here watching the opening ceremonies on TV as I type this. They are showing the flyover of the pavilions and they are enormous. These are pavilions, these are large scale buildings. The US’s pavilion costs 61 millions dollars and they were late getting in the game. They weren’t even coming to this EXPO until Hillary Clinton encouraged some people to donate for the pavilion.
Back to our day, after our failed attempt to buy our t-shirts, we checked out of our hostel and into a much better one that is right next to the Bund. Great location. We dropped our stuff off and headed out toward the Yu Yuan (Yu Gardens). This area of town does have some beautiful gardens historically, but it has now been really converted into a shopping and restaurant district but decorated with traditional architecture. I took some good pictures of some of the buildings including Dairy Queen, KFC, and Starbucks all keeping with the style.
Jamie decided to stay in for the night, but I headed out to the Bund to try and take some pictures of the Shanghai skyline at night. If there are 20 million people in this city, I bet 18 million were out on the Bund along the riverfront. I had previously read that you probably wouldn’t be able to see any of the fireworks from the opening ceremony along the Bund, so I wasn’t planning on staying out there for that. I guess the zillion people thought otherwise because it was packed with people hoping to see them.
I don’t know if they could or not because I decided to come in and watch it on TV. As I sit here and type this, the fireworks and laser show is going on live on TV, but we can actually hear the fireworks 5 km away from our hostel. Amazing show along the riverfront where they have used the 2 bridges as launching pads for some of the fireworks as well as for a laser show. The centerpiece of the ceremony is the LCD screen that aligns the waterfront that they are claiming is the largest LCD screen in the world. I haven’t heard the dimensions. The ceremony is a mixture of laser lights, water show, LCD television, and fireworks. They just got through have little small boats float up and down the river carrying the flag of every nation.
Enough about the ceremony. I only wish we could have gone, but it is more of a VIP thing. It is a shame that most of the people in the US have not even heard about the EXPO much less have the ability to tune in to see this ceremony. I think it is just as good if not better than the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing. China should be proud.
Tomorrow we’ll take a 40 minute train ride to Suzhou to tour that city for the day before heading back to Shanghai tomorrow evening. Sunday will be a jam packed day of EXPO where I will take a zillion pictures before sadly flying back to Shenzhen that evening.
I’ll get the pictures from today uploaded although there aren’t many.