Posted by Amanda
Today was an interesting day. Since I'd planned Hong Kong, Carrie planned Shanghai. We started the day early because I hadn't gotten to go off the ship yet. We had a new person to our usual four of Carrie, Jenne, Noah, and me so it took a bit of getting used to the new dynamics. It also meant getting two cabs much of the time.
Our first cab driver either didn't notice or care that we had four in the back seat. He took us to the Bund. They apparently just closed the nearest bridge from the Bund to the ship so it took longer to get from the ship to the good area. Carrie wanted to have some items she had made in Vietnam fixed by a tailor, but it never quite worked out. Instead we ended up at a Starbucks for breakfast.
From there we walked to the Bund proper to walk around. It was rainy and a bit chilly so we weren't too interested in staying there for an extended period of time. I do really like this area of Shanghai as it is so colonial on one side of the river and totally modern on the other. I remember wandering around this area by myself last time I was here.
From there we got a cab to the Jade Buddha Temple. This time we needed two cabs. Luckily, we both got there safe and sound. The temple was a lot like other temples we've seen. It was actually a bit overwhelming with the number of stores and shops in the temple. Everywhere you turned, there was another one. It sort of takes away from the spiritual nature of the place when you are constantly given the opportunity to buy a cell phone charm.
One in our group grabbed some soup and we sped off in two cabs to the Yuyuan Gardens. I actually remembered this area and these gardens from my last visit. I even remembered the store where I bought Noah a kite. Our first stop was lunch at a very popular dim sum place. We picked up a student along the way, one we like a lot--Big Tom, and sat down to some tasty dumplings. The set menu of about 12 dumplings and soup cost only slightly more than $5 a person.
We walked around the shopping area and through the Yuyuan Gardens. They were as lovely as I remembered them. The few trees in bloom added quite a bit and since it is a weekday, it wasn't crowded.
As I needed to be back on the ship by 6pm, Noah and I as well as the newcomber to our group split off to find a cab. It was raining quite heavily at this point. We ran into another staff member who wanted to join us back to the ship. Like any big city in the rain at rush hour, it was impossible to find a cab. We tried for an hour before we ended up at the Westin Hotel. The line for non-hotel guests didn't seem to move. It was already after 6 so I was very nervous. We thought about walking but it would be a hike. We asked about buses, but as we are docked in the middle of nowhere, none went there. Finally, the hotel asked if we wanted to hire a car from them. We took the offer. So, for about $11 a person we had a private car take us right up to the gangway. I showed up a bit late to check in but it was all good. I was glad to be back and not worry about it anymore.
Of course all of the students were also having trouble getting back to the ship. Either because they couldn't find a cab or because the cab driver didn't know where the ship was. We had one girl who was totally lost. He friends were worried sick about her as they'd lost her while trying to find a cab. We really were thinking we'd need to leave her behind. We'd even packed a bag for her to leave with the port agent and called her family to tell them we'd be leaving her behind. Luckily, she was smart enough to check into a hotel and call her parents. They called the ship and we found her. She managed to get back on the ship. Her roommate and friends were thrilled.
The other excitement was the stowaway. Well, it is actually a student, but she indicated that she would not be sailing with us from Hong Kong to Shanghai but did anyway. This being communist China, they wanted to interrogate her as a stowaway. In the end, the let her stay onboard.
We've finally set sail about an hour and a half later than scheduled, but everyone is onboard. I still love Shanghai and want to spend more than a day and a half here. Maybe next time.