Monday, August 8, 2011

My Jetset Life: Shanghai, China and New Year at 35,000 feet

Two days before the New Year  of 2007, I was on airport standby not knowing whether I'll be home to welcome the New Year or not. 10 more minutes to go and my standby will be over. I was so happy. I thought I was going home. But 5 minutes before the clock hit 3AM, I got Shanghai. And I won't be back until the morning of the 1st. I was devastated. I cried all the way to the aircraft. I didn't want to miss the New Year. 

But God always does find a way to make me happy. First, I had been upgraded to work first Class (on a flight that had 1 passenger and 3 of us crew). Second, I was flying with three other Filipino girls and we immediately decided that we were going out to have fun to make up for being away for the New Year.

As soon as we got to Shanghai, we signed up for the city tour early the next morning. It was freezing and I hadn't packed for the winter because I was secretly hoping I wouldn't get pulled out for a flight so they had to lend me some to keep me warm. 

Three of us (me, Mira and Catherine; the other girl, Riyah, couldn't join us as she was meeting relatives in Shanghai.) went out to have dinner.We thought we were up for a treat. Local Chinese food. But, believe me when I say this: Chinese food is not as good as it is when you're in China, just as Italian food sucks in Italy, and cous-cous tastes like hell in Morocco. (Well, that is my personal opinion, we all have different taste buds.) Unsatisfied, we ended up having dessert at the hotel lobby.

We had an early start and had gourmet croissants for breakfast while waiting for our tour guide Chen and the shuttle to pick us up.

Shanghai, according to Wikipedia, is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It was once a fishing and textiles town, but due to its rapid growth over the last two decades, it has become a global city, exerting influence over finance, commerce, fashion, technology and culture. It is also a popular tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks.

The city tour was up first. Shanghai has a rich collection of buildings and structures of various architecture designs. The Oriental Pearl Tower being one of the most popular was actually a setting in the Mission Impossible 3 Film starring Tom Cruise (well, I wouldn't know, I never watched that.).

Shanghai buildings and skyscrapers.

The Oriental Pearl tower.

Shanghai is unofficially divided into two parts: Old China and New China.

Although a modern metropolis, Shanghai has maintaned some of their old buildings that is very popular with tourists. Of course, I did not waste any time in having my own Old China photograph. Everything looked so ancient but was very well-maintained.

Our next stop was the Yuyuan Flower Garden. The place was wonderful. It was beautiful, serene and almost perfect with so much history - It was first established in 1559 as a private garden created by Pan Yunduan, who spent almost 20 years building a garden to please his father Pan En, a high-ranking official in the Ming Dynasty, during his father's old age. Over the years, the gardens had been damaged by the wars and eventually repaired by the Shanghai government from 1956–1961, opened to the public in 1961, and declared a national monument in 1982.

The Yuyuan Flower Garden

The last leg of our tour was The Bund - it's like a big viewing deck where you could see the Old Town and New Town at the same time, with great views of the Pudong skyline. The area centers on a section of Zhongshan Road (which runs one mile) within the former Shanghai International Settlement, which runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River.

View from The Bund: Overlooking the Pudong skyline.

From there, we had lunch (KFC-just to be safe!) and - now comes the good part - went shopping! China is a good place to shop. We got really good bargains and it was so funny haggling with people who couldnt really understand us.

The flight back was very easy, passenger load was light as it was going to be officially the new year in a few hours. So the crew had ample time to rest and we made little paper hats and drank sparkling juice to welcome the new year when the clock struck midnight.

Happy 2007!

And then we were home.

I actually had a blast because I was lucky enough to have been with people who were just as crazy as I was.

And that was how I spent the last days of  2006.

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