China 2006 Report

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Our flight actually arrived 30 minutes early at 3:00pm. In China, the Shanghai airport is very modern. It reminds me a lot of Vancouver with all the glass partitions and the layout. After about a half an hour wait in line at immigration, I got through that without much of a hitch, got my bag easily enough, got passed any inspections. The border girls looked so bored. They were just there collecting the customs declaration cards almost not even looking at them. They even had a guy by an X-ray machine doing spot checks. He stopped a guy just in front of me because he had a cart with like 3 pieces of luggage and 2 card board boxes. I guess it looked like he might be bringing in over 2000 RMB yuan ($300 Cdn) worth of goods. Technically, I was over too with that used computer I was bringing, but like a freeway, once the cop pulls over one guy for speeding, then you can go sailing on past because the trooper is already too busy busting somebody else.

When I got to the lobby, wow, so so so many people. Many people were holding out signs with people's names or companies on them. There was some kind of Shanghai reunion group, and handfuls of tour group flag people. I was worried that I was going to miss my lonely and short wife. But I just had to stand up straight and let my height put me into better view. Chinese people are generally short. Sure enough, she spotted me and that was all I needed. We got outside and took a taxi to our hotel.

It was a long ride, much like driving from Richmond airport down to Robson Street. Now the hotel we were at is kind of a smallish kinda rundown dive looking hotel on the outside of a very famous shopping district called Nanjing Street. The inside is actually not much better looking, I would give it a 2 star rating but that might be pushing it. I have stayed in nicer motels with rating 2's. As I later find out, it actually was a 1 star. The room has this cleaning smell to it, I guess too much detergent. Unfortunately, opening the window only leads to the clearance shaft space between the buildings so air cirrulation is bad.

The street is as equally clean of garbage but yet smelly due to the amount of sewage underneath it. You see, it is hard to see from the picture 1 below but they use stone tiles for their sidewalks which is fine, many cities do this. However, to get rid of the water during rain and cleaning, they opted to cut a trench under the sidewalk to take care of the water. Of course the usual crap gets thrown down there and the laziness of some of the building owners will throw everything from cooking waste, oils, dishwater, and even stuff from the toilet. So, there becomes a nice mix of "shit" down there which is not saying much because the sewage system in Vancouver is much the same. The difference is that it is many many feet below the ground where all the rotting takes place. So you can imagine what kinda of smell that comes from it. I really didn't think of it so much until I had dinner the next day.

Note the trench that is cut between this set of stone tiles to allow for water run off.
The classic wooden look of the hotel's hallway.
Our room, there is 2 small single beds, various drawers and a closet and a desk. However, the TV is on it so it pretty well makes it unusable as a desk.
Note there is 2 windows but only one opens and leads to a shaft between the buildings.

I am writing this sitting on the floor on a bath towel and typing on the bed. I will also note that there is no electrical outlets anywhere except behind the desk where the hot water pot and TV are plugged into. Fortunately, this is where I remembered this problem from last year and thus, this year I had Ami pack a power bar. This is where I was finally able to charge the batteries for my Ipod, Imac, and IPAQ. Hmm.. that almost is ironically a funny how that all works.

We set out for the evening looking for some of the famous food of Shanghai to eat. The street Nanjing is like our Robson Street. Many factory outlet like stores, very upscale, and many department stores. It is very geared to foreigners as I see many of them around and very obvious ones too.

I figured you might get a kick of the name of this place, "Tom's Kid's World". Hmmm... I wonder what Vancouver famous "Tom" I could be refering to? I will write more when we return to Shanghai.
This department store is over 88 years old. I guess this is like their kind of the "Hudson's Bay Company".
An idea of the city's tower scapes. Many buildings have tall antenna, and/or decorative lighting.
Brilliance Shimao International Plaza. I have more pictures tomorrow in light. The bottom part is a very large shopping mall, the top is a pointy needle tower.

Here is a long view of Nanjing Street. Notice very lit up like Las Vegas. Sorry about the blurriness, Ami has not got used to holding the camera really steady for these low light/no flash pictures.
This is me by the offical entrance to the Nanjing Street shopping district.
Very Las Vegas or Tokyo like. All the flag stores are here, plus all the tourist stuff is here. You have your KFC, HSBC, McDonalds, Hagen Dais, Pizza Hut, and Yoshinbo.
There was even a Happy Family Mall full with a gaming area but it was closed for some weird reason.

We stepped out for dinner at this restaurant just off the main strip. We were seated upstairs but the "menu" was downstairs. They had almost all their dishes all nicely displayed at the front of their display with prices. Ami picked a few items and we went back up to be seated and served. This is what we got.

BBQ ribs : They are about the same as normal BBQ spare ribs sauce but they topped it off with green and red peppers and a bit of corn and onions. Tasty like BBQ beef is although it got cold fast.
Hot chicken nuggets : They are a rather boney section of chicken (the neck) deep fried and buried in hot peppers and onions and peanuts. It was even hot without even picking up the pepper pieces. Annoying things since you don't get a lot of meat in the chicken parts. I guess this is one of those things like fish, you gotta suck all the meat out and separate the bones with your tongue.
Breaded Beef : It is a slice of beef that is breaded and deep fried. They drizzled it with some kinda white dressing sauce. It is suppose to be used with salads, so I think it is some kinda mayonaise based thing. It doesn't make it sweet or tart, so I think it is just there to add on the calories. This is crispy when it is hot and very chewy when it is not.
Mushroom soup : It is a soup made with a whole variety of Shitake and chinese mushrooms. It was quite good although a bit salty but I'm going to blame the adding of the MSG to cause that.

Good amount of meat at this table. Leaves us room for more walking on Nanjing Street for dessert. Here is what we got...
Red Bean cake : I have had this before. It is red bean (pea) paste wrapped in rice flour. I generally find this to be a sticky mess. The flour of course tastes like nothing and all you have is the paste which is not a flavour that I am particularily fond of.
Green Tea Red Bean Cake : Like the normal stuff, but they mixed green tea with the rice flour. Result is a green and harder and chewer coating. Does it add anything to the taste? Nope not appreciably.
Coconut Red Bean Cake : It only has a little bit of red bean. They first have a ball of flour coated in a black sesame paste (dictionary writes it as a Lotus Petal crystanthium), then another coating of flour, then the red bean layer then another coat of flour then a coating of coconut flakes. This stuff is actually pretty good. Not over powering in red bean taste and many different sweetness tastes.