The last few days have been so full and so busy that we have been left trying to catch up on writing about where we have been, and so now we are two destinations behind, and for that I apologize. It seemed when having a chance to be more relaxed would allow for some good time to write and post pictures but instead it was just filled with time trying to get back the energy used up in the days before. In any case, our story goes back to our final morning in Beijing, where we had a bullet train to Shangahi in the morning. Mao once said that you are not a man(or you are not Chinese) if you haven't climbed the Great Wall. I think now, it should be reflected that you are not a man if you have not braved the Beijing subway in the morning of a weekday. Thankfully, most of our rote was away from the center, but when we had to change lines, there was a connecting tunnel with at least 1000 people, that seemed to be the most claustrophobic experience in Anna's life. In any case, we made it in good time to the train station. The train ride itself was incredibly swift and smooth, although we never topped 310 km/h, where I had expected 350, and even when travelling 5 hours at this speed, we never managed to see some blue skies and escape the cloud of smog that sits oppresively on top of this country. Shanghai itself was a refreshing change in relation to beijing, despite being much warmer and more humid than its northern neighbor. Our less intense visit began with a stroll around the old french concession, as after the Boxer War, the city was divided up among colonial powers who had an interest in internal trade with China. These were given concessions where they could maintian a sense of relative autonomy, but the French ruled these much more directly, and separately, from both the others, and the Chinese part of the city. As a result, the area of the city still maintains a distinctively different feel, with pleasantly small tree-lined streets, countless patisseries and boulangeries, but most importantly, a whole assortment of bars, restaurants, cafes, and shops that very few non-locals venture into. Our main destination, which we ended up spending very little time actually at, was a revamped factory district, with extremely narrow alleys and sidestreets, all of which had stores and restaurants, in tiny enclosed spaces, none of which were part of any chain or well known line. In the evening, we went out with a university friend of mine to try one of the typical Chinese dishes we did not get a chance to sample in Beijing: hotpot. As we were told, there are normal hotpot restaurants, where you share a room the size of a small office with 30 other chinese, and while you may lose 2 kilos in sweat during the meal, you may lose just as much weight through digestive problems the following day. Luckily there are also hotpot restaurants for those not so digestively adventurous, despite it still being quite the culinary adventure. Hotpot is sort of like a chinese fondue, where you have two boiling pots where you throw in things to cook them. The difference of course being that the pots have either coconut milk or a spicy sauce, and besides meat you also throw in noodles, mushrooms, tofu, vegetables, and well just about anything. In addition, you are also inclined to make a pair of sauce dishes, one a more soft but tasty peanut based sauce, and another chili sauce. Perhaps from the spicyness I do think I sweated off some weight that night, but had no stomach issues the day after, at least not new ones. Afterwards, we took a brief nightcap at one of the trendier bars, where the prices wouldnt have stood out in a trendy Lower West Side bar. The next day we set out to visit the city in earnest, first going to the old quarter, where the wealthy chinese lived even before the european concessions were granted. There we visited a huge set of Chinese gardens, said to be the inspiration for many such gardens around China and the rest of the world, which is apparently where all those chinese restaurants got the idea to have goldfish or yellow carp swimming around mini streems or fountains. Right outside was a famous teahouse, once part of the gardens, and a extremely touristy bazaar, but who once served as the fancy and incredibly ornate buildings of the wealthy Shanghaiese. From there we walked up towards the river, and strolled up to the Bund, the heart of the original financial boom. This intended leisurely stroll turned out to be quite a workout, given the intense heat and humidity, but we managed a crucial pitstop by having lunch at a very fancy place serving Yunan cuisine, which we had intended to have so far, being the region of China part of the Mekong Delta that we would unfortunately not be able to visit. Again, the restaurant would not have been out of place in the flatiron district, but one would have been hard pressed to find all the strange mushrooms and spices that hail from the sparsely populated and ethnically different southwest of China. From there we turned back up the Bund, admiring the stretch of buildings built in a style equally magestic to the turn of the century original skyscrapers of Chicago and New York, but also to the ultramodern truly skyscraping glass and steel megaliths across the river in Pudong, most impressive of which was 'the bottle opener', the third highest building in the world, with the highest viewing platform, and a hole in the triangular top, making it look strikingly like a bottle opener. We then sauntered up East Nanjing road, the heart of middle-class commercial china, where all the nouveaux riche of the country flock to. Despite being a bit disgusted by the endless, tacky yet slightly refined kilometers of stores, we could not help but stop a few times and pick up some Chinese tea. Our walk finished at the main park of the city, that splits East and West Nanjing, a part of which is now known as people's square. Without much thought, we stopped for some Haagen Dazs ice cream, forgetting that any western brands are mightily overpriced in China, and thus had cups of ice cream that cost just as much as the medium sized tins of tea we had just acquired. Without going over the top with New York comparisons, the park had a feel of central park, surrounded by skyscrapers, one of which that had been the tallest building 'in the east' until the early 80s, that would be remarkable to architects no matter in which city it would have been built, having a very particular Gotham-city vibe. The park also held a couple enourmous and ultra modern museums, but the entire west side was somehow crowded out by a enormous new skyscraper, aptly named the Tommorow Square. After an attempt at relaxation in the hotel, we ventured out again to the northern bend of the river, to climb to the top of the Hyatt, to Vue Bar, one of the ultra chic places to go to, that has among the best views in the world, as it sits at the top of a bend in the river, giver unparalleled views over both the classical Bund side as well as the colorfully illuminated Pudong side. The only drawback, as with places such as these, is that the people, the vast majority of which were wealthy chinese, were entirely unsociable, and were fighting tooth and nail to keep chairs and sofa spots to themselves and other pop-collared comrades who might or might not show up at a fashionably late hour. And with that our night, and our whirlwind visit to Shanghai came to a close, unfortunately taking an early flight the next morning, that left just early enough to not be able to try the Maglev trains that run to the airport at speeds over 420 km/h. Food, skyscrapers, baguettes, and bars notwithstanding, riding the Maglev is reason enough to go back to Shanghai.