Posted by Rachel Johnson on
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Our trip from Xi’an was entirely uneventful, as are the
best plane trips. The airline food was minimally edible, although the Sprite
was nice. We took the Maglev from the airport, and it reached 431kph, which is pretty
From the plane upon arrival in each of the cities I’ve
visited in the developing world, one could see the slums on the outskirts of
the city. I think Chinese slums must look different than I’m used to, because
all I saw were very cramped looking brick houses. India breaks your heart with
the obvious human suffering surrounding the visitor every step, every day in
India. One must eventually learn to ignore it, or else go slightly insane.
Maybe China’s heartbreak is primarily rural and can’t be seen on a Study Tour
encompassing only the urban centers of Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai.
Upon initial arrival in Shanghai, it struck me that I was
reminded of Mumbai. There are so many people in the streets, there is a ripe
scent to the air that I suspect is the combined odor of millions of sweaty
bodies from the muggy, humid heat, and a certain late 19th/early 20th
century European flair to many of the old buildings along the waterfront.
However, this is where the comparison must end, as Shanghai is an amazing city,
full of diverse, innovative architecture, it boasts a Maglev airport train, and
is currently hosting the World Expo. No offense to Mumbai, but there really is
no comparison after the initial superficial similarities are set aside.
After checking in and getting mostly settled in, we took
a walk down to the river to see the Pudong and the Shanghai skyline. This resulted
in much picture-taking before we settled on heading across the river to the
After a long stroll to reach the ferry, then a ferry ride
(2 yuan!) and then a long stroll to the Pearl Tower, it was discovered that the
cost for dinner was 280RMB, or 140 times the cost of the ferry ride. That price
is completely ridiculous, so half of us settled on Subway, as we were starving,
and others went to a nearby mall for other fare.
The view was mostly worth the price of admission (100RMB),
although having my personal bubble invaded about every two seconds is honestly
getting annoying. Having my alone time helps me get back my equilibrium to face
the seas of humanity about me each day, but I have to admit it will be nice to
go home, back to a place where an elevator with five occupants is considered