Tuesday, January 05, 2010
The City Above the Sea
After over two weeks in Japan, it was time to move on to Shanghai. My ex-coworker Ken moved back to China in July, and had made it clear that anybody who was in the area was welcome to visit.
Arriving in Shanghai is quite a bit of fun, because the easiest way from the airport to the city center is the Magnetic Levitation (MagLev) train. The MagLev hovers over the track, and since it has far less friction to overcome, it can attain very high speeds. On my trip the train topped out at around 432 kilometers an hour, which is a whopping 268 miles an hour. I've always been impressed by the 300 kilometer per hour Shinkansen in Japan, but this was a whole order of magnitude faster.
One of the first things I did upon arrival in Ken's neighborhood was seek out something to eat. I ordered two things I was familiar with, mapo dofu and pork fried rice. Those two dishes and a 600 ml beer set me back about 3 dollars, which was a very refreshing change from Japanese prices. In fact, during my stay in China I found the food to be pretty uniformly excellent, though having a local guide for the first few days helped immeasurably.
After my meal, I sought out Ken's apartment, located in a block of 30+ story buildings clustered alongside a river. I think that there were more high rises in this housing development than in the entirety of downtown Denver!
I had barely sat down when Ken and I set off to explore the neighborhood and partake of even more food and beer. I don't know that I've ever eaten quite so much as I did that night, spaced out over three restaurants ranging from Uyghur Lamb Kabobs to northern Chinese sweet and sour pork.
I will admit that I had felt a certain amount of trepidation traveling to China, and though I found some negatives, I was glad that my first day in Shanghai was wonderful.