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My Shanghai visit

By Matthew Steele (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2011-07-02 10:14
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I am from a small city in Canada, on the Atlantic ocean, where the population density is only 67 people for every square kilometer.

China was a place where I always wanted to visit and live, and I finally got this opportunity last summer.

My Shanghai visit
Matthew Steele [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn] 
After the long plane ride from my city in Canada to Shanghai I was glad to get my feet firmly planted on the ground, Pudong airport was like nothing I had seen before, it was large and modern, after going through the no-nonsense immigration line I proceeded over to the line up for taxi's with my girlfriend who is from China and acted as my guide and translator for the trip. Finally at 5pm we reached our hotel not far from Nanjing Rd. and proceeded to immediately go to sleep.

Waking up at 6am we started to walk around just exploring the streets of Shanghai, watching everyone get ready to open their shops, the smell of the food along the street, we picked up a few dumplings and asked for directions to Yu Yuan garden. It was a long walk from our hotel but we had time to go there and enjoy the sites on the way. The Garden was still not open by the time we got there and wandering around we found a nice bamboo forest part where in the middle there were a bunch of Chinese people. One old man invited me over wanting to speak with me but I politely declined his invitation.

Finally we went into the garden as it opened and it was magnificent, the garden laid out in a traditional Chinese style with lots of buildings around was amazing, I've never seen anything like that before in all my life. It was at this moment that I knew China was the place for me.

Later that night we explored the busy Nanjing Rd. pushing through the crowds and walked to the Bund viewing some amazing sky scrapers across the river mixed with the 1900's architecture of the Bund. The view was breath taking and I knew that there was no other place like this in the world.

The next day we did some shopping on Nanjing street taking advantage of the many deals that the department stores had to offer and then took the subway under the river to Pudong. I am quite interested in architecture and sky scrapers so viewing the Shanghai World Financial center was breath taking, not having seen anything as tall as that in my life, I knew I had to go to the top.

We bought our tickets to the top of the center, it was a cloudy day, but they were low clouds and once we finally reached the top we were above the clouds. It was evening by now and the sun was just starting to set. Watching the sun set from half a kilometer in the air is something everyone should experience. All of a sudden as it got dark enough every light in Shanghai came on and the view was breath taking, the city looked like something so futuristic I couldn't believe my eyes. Looking down at the Jin Mao tower we could see the sparkling lights on it's spire and I will never forget that moment. We made our way back to our hotel that night by subway, I should note here that the Shanghai subway is the way to travel, it is most convenient and can reach many parts of the city, I don't know how I do without it back home.

The next day we headed to the World Expo, it was a hot humid day with temperatures in the high 30's and I was carrying a backpack full of water on my back (a must for these hot days). After taking the subway to the Expo we bought our tickets and headed up the stairs, the Chinese pavilion meeting us head on. The tickets were already sold out for the China pavilion by the time we got there but we ended up going to the Denmark, France, and Canadian pavilion. In the line up at the Canadian pavilion a young Chinese boy asked me in perfect English if I was from Canada, I replied yes and his face lite right up immediately asking to get a picture with me in front of the pavilion. This would have never happened in my home town, people are too cautious and would be afraid to ask this, but not in China. The heat became un-bearable after waiting in the lines for this long and our water was running out, we decided to head back to downtown Shanghai to get supper.

We went to a famous dumpling restaurant by Yu Yuan gardens and the food was magnificent. We got about 10 different items all for about 6 dollars Canadian, and the food was top notch. This is how life should be.

The next day we got up and boarded the train to go to Hangzhou, an hour ride from Shanghai for about 15 dollars Canadian each, try getting that type of fare in North America.

My time in Shanghai and China was unforgettable and I can't wait to go back, I am hoping on going over to attend Chinese classes soon and am excited for that!

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