This is way overdue, but I want to say thanks to the folks who have seen fit to follow me. ♡ Everytime I get a message from tumblr about someone following me I smile.
I may also have ulterior motives because every person that follows serves as a vote for me to sell my belongings and move to the South Pacific where I will blog endlessly about paradise and roam around the world because it pleases me…linen pants would also be involved.
So I was super excited this month to go to NOLA. I was supposed to go next week. I was so excited to share my love for that city. Experience the music and food and just have an amazing time.
Unfortunately, things happened that derailed it. I tried to add a plus one to add for the fun and experience and when that failed I gave up. When what I should have done is pick up and gone anyway.
The last minute change of plans and the inability to confirm things and have things all set up well in advance really threw me off my game and sullied the whole thing for me to scrap it. I was super disappointed and forgot that my love for traveling should shine through even if I have to go somewhere solo. Frankly, this whole blog is about me adventuring solo. I lost sight of what I liked to do because I got too wrapped up on the wrong thing. This is my passion and I let this whole ordeal ruin it for me, albeit briefly.
However, sometimes trips don’t work out for a reason. While I have refunded my hotel for NOLA already, I know that I am making a mistake by not going. Although, I have made alternate plans which are also amazing, because hanging out with awesome friends is always a worthwhile endeavor, not rebounding and making this trip work is a mistake I hope not to make again.
So where in the world am I going to go now?!! And what crazy things will I get into next?!! The possibilities are endless…
These days were spent mostly in the air. I left on Friday morning in Shanghai and didn’t land until Friday afternoon NYC time. Longest Friday ever.
After a rough start, the two members of the group were late for pick up, and had their luggage searched, we were off. We flew from Shanghai to Beijing and then from Beijing to JFK airport. During that time I used my last squatting toilet, and took a picture of it for posterity.
The flights were uneventful and tried to pass most of the time sleeping. I didn’t get antsy until I could see Manhattan below…then I was acutely aware of how much I wanted to get off the plane.
I made it through customs and all that stuff with no issues and was happy to leave the airport to breathe in that good ol’ (less polluted) American air.
China was an amazing experience and I had a great time. While it was awkward at times, being stared out or having pictures taken of me, it was really nice to see the world from a different vantage point. Plus if I can make it in China…I can’t make it almost anywhere. I can’t wait until I get another opportunity to go off to a far off land.
Shanghai/USA Day 9 & 10
Today was the last full day in Shanghai. Matt met us at the hotel at 10am. The other two were late…so Matt and I stood in the lobby and waited. After they graced us with their presence we were off to the Shanghai Museum. It was a pretty cool place. In the center of the museum was a red circle. Matt explained that the circle was the exact center of the city of Shanghai. Matt gave us time to explore the museum and I made a beeline to the exhibit highlighting the different ethnicities in China. I really was into the different clothing and tools.
After the museum tour, we moved towards People’s Square. The Parliament Building was directly across from us when we exited and we could see the Pearl Building peeking between two other high rises. At this point the other two in the group decided they wanted to do their own thing. Matt and I were only too happy to oblige. Once they left, that meant that I got a one on one guide in Shanghai and the rest of the day would be spent doing what I wanted.
The next stop was to the Silk Factory. Like the pearls and jade factories there was a tour followed by a sales pitch. Seeing as that I really just wanted a silk robe I just went with it. After trying on a bunch of stuff I came out with a long silk robe, a silk traditional Chinese shirt, and two short length cheongsam dresses. Pretty nice.
When I was done, the driver took Matt and I to Yuyuan Gardens. Since it was just the two of us, we decided to let the driver go home and that we would take the Metro for the rest of the day. Once the driver dropped us off, he was nice enough to take my silk stuff back to my hotel then he was off.
Matt and I wandered around the Old Bazaar. I was starving, so Matt took me to a local dumpling restaurant. Every the other two peaced out Matt would make sure I got a more traditional Shanghainese experience, especially when it came to meals and today was no exception. We climbed up some stairs and into a small dining room. After ordering we sat down and waited. After a few minutes and large dumpling with a straw was placed in front of me. It was a soup dumpling, with crab roe inside it. I tasted it, and it was really yummy. After slurping up all the broth I ate the dumpling just in time for two bamboo steamers to arrive. Matt had ordered park and crab stuffed dumplings and we quickly went to town. We finished lunch and wandered around the bazaar.
We passed booths sealing different street foods. Quail on sticks, chive patties, fried prawns, fried soft shell crabs and squid balls to name a few. I helped myself to some soft shelled crab. Totally worth it. We walked around some more and I brought some silk slippers and we explored the booths selling red lanterns and other New Year decorations.
Once we tired of that we took the Metro across the river to the east bank of Shanghai. This is where a lot of the financial and business centers are. This is also the skyline that most people with identify with Shanghai. As soon as we exited the Metro station I got to see the Pearl building. I had heard about it, and seen pictures of it and had not been impressed. However, seeing it in person gave me a new appreciation for it. Plus I could see that its windows were purple. So I immediately liked it now. Matt played the role of photographer and took pictures of me and the building. He was particularly anal on how pictures came out and had me standing there for several minutes trying to get the lighting right. Once satisfied, Matt took me to the riverbank and we watched the sun begin to sink behind the buildings on the west bank. Matt pointed out buildings on The Bund, which is the river bank of the west side.
After being cold and needing a bathroom break we sat down at a nearby Starbucks. We figured out dinner. Matt wanted to take me to get some fish dish with “only a little guts”. I told him I wanted more of the hotpot business. Matt found a place on his iPad and made reservations. We then headed towards to the Metro to go back across the river. We were having dinner on Nanjing Road. Nanjing Road reminded me of Times Square. It was light up by neon signs and restaurants, hotels and shopping plazas were on each side of the road. Our restaurant was right on the road on the third floor of a building. It was a trendy place full of locals and again I was the only foreigner. Once seated a waitress put a shot glass full of mysterious juice in front of me.
“What is that,” I asked Matt.
“It is good, try it!”
“Matt, what is this? Seriously?”
“Uhh, I don’t know how to say it in English.”
Looks at his phone for a few seconds, “Chinese dates and honey.”
After going back and forth, I took a sip. I didn’t like it. Matt told me not to worry to leave it, but I felt bad so I threw it back like a shot. Our broth came out and the meats soon followed. We had beef, tongue, crab, oysters and chinese leafy greens to name a few. I even got to try abalone which I had wanted to try for a while. It was really yum.
We walked towards the bank of the river, Haungpu, and stopped at a hotel. There were was an old Jazz band playing live music. They were really good. We moved towards the bank so I could take a night cruise on the Haungpu River. Even though it was freezing, I got a really nice view of the buildings at night. Once the cruise ended, Matt sent me back to the hotel. I was exhausted and cold and I needed to back. We had an early early morning the day, we were flying out of Shanghai to Beijing and from Beijing back to JFK.
Today was a free day. I took full advantage by laying in bed. This bed is way better than the one in Beijing. After drowning in down I got up and ready. I ate breakfast and then left the hotel. I took a taxi to the nearest Metro station and began my adventure. I found that the fastest and easiest way for me to orient myself is by taking the subway.
So I did. I travled North and I traveled back south. I found myself at Tianzifang, an adorably chill market place. I wandered around the narrow alleyways littered with shops and corners that brimmed with restaurants and tea houses. I enjoyed the red lanterns that hung above me in preparation for the Chinese New Year.
Happy with my purchases and with increasingly sore feet, I took the Metro back north. Above Nanjing Road and above People’s Square to Haungpe Street. I had been told it was a food street with local restaurants and dumplings. I found a fried dumplings placr and went in. It was tiny and I was the only Meiguo (American) or foreigner in the place. I ordered and was given a ticket. I waited at the window where one of the chefs picked out my dumplings and handed me a plate. I sat down and began to eat. Dumplings are good. Real good. While there were only four the pork inside made them filling.
Once I was satiated I walked north to a main street and hailed a taxi back to my hotel. My intention was to put my bags in my room and put my feet up. However, I passed out instead. My plans to go to a live jazz show weren’t going to happen.
After waking up around 9:30…I was all disheveled and hungry. I did the only sensible thing, ordered room service. After eating I passed out again watching the Bloomberg Network as it was the only channel in English.