Hola amigos y amigas!!!
October break has come and gone. Our first true break since we arrived in Shanghai. I have been subbing a lot more than I thought I would, mostly at the Upper School. It’s great, really. In addition to Zidisha and applying for jobs, that has kept me fairly busy.
Since a lot of the stuff we did in the beginning was very school-centered, we hadn’t taken a whole lot of time to explore Shanghai on our own. Our residence permits came in during the second week of September, at which point trying to go anywhere for October Break would be super expensive (since it is a national holiday in China, everyone tries to get out of China, as it gets crazy crowded). So we were “stuck” in Shanghai. We decided to actually take some time to see some of the “touristey” stuff, and explore without hurry. This will hopefully help also when the time comes to host people as we have an idea about what things are worth seeing and which are just not.
To begin with, we decided to kick off the weekend with a little staycation in a fancy hotel. Thank goodness for corporate discounts! Turns out that the Hyatt on the Bund (highly recommended!) had a special promotion going on for international school faculty so we decided to book a couple nights, take it as our headquarters and do some good ole exploring. This will take a few posts to develop. I thought the weather would be too cold to bring a swimsuit and decided to skip it and not use the pool. Big mistake. The hotel also has a wonderful spa with saunas and Turkish steams and a hot tub. I did go down there to read and just relax. Cam did use the pool and the spa. He loves spas. Here is a little peek at the pool. Nice, huh?
Our 7th floor room offered pretty great views of the Pudong Skyline. I have to find the pictures and add them here, but I mixed them up (I took most pictures with my phone and mixed them up when opening them in my computer. Sorry!) I’ll start with one of my favorite activities of the week. Granted, Shanghai is not the place to come for a taste of ancient China, but I think Shanghai still has historical significance. What better place to witness the rise of China? Pudong itself (the eastern part of the Huangpu River) was nothing but rice paddies in 1990. Seeing how this place develops is just mind-blowing. It’s history in the making, and I feel very fortunate to witness it. Not to mention Shanghai showcases great examples of modern architecture (IFC tower, aka The Bottle Opener, anyone?). The activity I’m referring to is the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall. Essentially it’s a museum of the city of Shanghai and it illustrates Shanghai’s history. Lots of pictures and replicas of certain areas of the city. It’s a great place to show how Shanghai’s privileged location and the different settlements and concessions the city went through have shaped it. Shanghai didn’t become the international and cosmopolitan city it is overnight. The Pearl of the Orient has always been a place where all are welcome. The unquestionable highlight of the Exhibition Hall is what you will see in the following pictures:
This is exactly what you think it is: a replica of Shanghai. Lights and everything on all the right skyscrapers. There are even areas that are not replicated there, like Kangqiao, or South Pudong, where we live…and where Disney is building their park. We already know the city is huge and packs a lot within it, but when you see it in visual form over one floor, it’s breathtaking. I will definitely go back there. On my next posts, more to come about our October break shenanigans.