My start in Shanghai
"Layover in South Korea"
For all of us travellers, you all can relate how badly and how quickly you want to get to your final destination. It never fails! You want the overpacked and crowded flight you're on to hurry up and get there. Because you can only do so much in a 12 hour flight. Watch the in-flight movies, eat the TV dinners, listen to your I-Pod and play your Playstation Portable, and even kill time in the bathroom so you don't have to deal with the people next to you. My layover in South Korea was fast approaching, and I was anxious!
"Arriving in South Korea"
Finally we arrived. I made sure to get out of my seat and proceed out. I didn't have to go through immigration. But I had to go through another security check. I guess now that I look at it, it makes sense since you're now in another country. I hate the whole process of removing all your things and laptop. But it's necessary. So no need to whine about it, eh?
"Chinese License Plates"
After leaving South Korea, my plane touched down in Shanghai, China. My final destination and where my trip began. I met a representative from Gate 1 Travel at the airport and went out to wait for my shuttle to The Bund Riverside Hotel. While waiting in the cold, the rep explained to me an interesting thing about Chinese license plates. Unlike in America, registering a car in China is like picking your lucky numbers for the lottery. Since there's so many people and cars, the government limits them. Everyone here wants one. So you pull a number and then you register. Something like that. It's lucky to have numbers that are the same. Especially 888. Because that's really lucky. They're also expensive if you want those particular numbers.
"Good morning Shanghai!"
Well, after crashing almost immediately from my long flight, I awoke to immediately have breakfast before my departure on my first tour around Shanghai. After a pleasing breakfast, I walked around the restaurant and was greeted with some great views. I expected Shanghai to be big, but when I saw it first-hand I was overwhelmed! It's easy to get lost. Everything goes on forever.
"Out and About"
On a brisk early spring day, we took our first excursion out to Yuyuan Gardens. The walk wasn't too far where our bus driver dropped us off at. We went under a big paifang (Chinese-style gateway) and walked along little alleys until we got there.
Very interesting sculpture this was.
"Nostalgic for the old"
After our brief tour of the Yuyuan Gardens, I departed with a very nostaglic feeling for the China of old. Pagodas, pavilions and rickshaws. A lot of people have this stereotype of China it seems. I don't like to follow stereotypes too often. I expected it somewhat, though. In today's China, it's more about commercial development. Although they've done well to preserve their heritage.
After our endeavors at the Yuyuan Gardens and eating a very interesting lunch, we went to see how locals spend their time at a local community center. This place was designed mostly for the elderly so they don't feel so lonely at home while the younger generation works and plays. They was different things here, from an internet center to a little library to classrooms that had classes for the deaf and learning English. A busy place it was! We were taken in a classroom, and to our surprise, were invited to partake in the traditional Chinese art of paper cutting. The color of red is used quite often in China and is a symbol of luck. You see it in the lanterns and other objects. We used red paper to make our cut, a Chinese character which means "happiness". I ended up making what my tour guide jokingly referred to as "double happiness" due to my first two attempts at trying and goofed up the cut. This was a nice way to close off my first full day in Shanghai.