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July 30, 2006 - Shanghai, China

City of Lights

The flight from Chiang Mai thru Bangkok to Shanghai was pretty uneventful save for the fact that it was at 7ish (meaning a 4ish wakeup, ouch). Slept for awhile in the Bangkok airport on some comfy benches and then off.

We took a 45 minute fast bus into the city itself. I had prepared myself for a real rats-nest and was disappointed. Traffic seemed pretty ruly and the pedestrian crowds were big but not worse than the nastiness that is 5th Ave.

Staying at a hostel, I thought those days were well past, but not so bad. A couple of Germans, assorted Europeans and a few Chinese in the room. The hostel itself is in a pretty touristy/busy area, the Bund, but it is very central and has some great city views. What struck me in the first few hours as being pretty extreme is not the touted craziness but rather the sprawl - the city looks like it goes on for miles..

One of the major pedestrian streets is a short walk for the hostel and we were drawn to it like moths. The lights, although not as tall, easily outshine Times Sq. in terms of sheer quantity and complexity. After stumbling around like a bunch of dazed deer we wandered down a sidestreet for dinner. Eating family style looks like the way I will be dining for the next long while - no more pining over somebody elses dish.

After dinner we had a walk down the river next to the Bund and snuck up onto the roof bar of the Peace Hotel. After much gawking and then horror at the price of beers (not really that bad - 45 RMB - about $5, but they are only 3 or 4 RMB for 750mL on the street) we turned tail and ran.

Tumbleweeds... and no comments. How 'bout livening things up?

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