Day 8: Cruising into Shanghai

Day 8 began with the group meeting in the lobby at 6am for our final breakfast in Xi’an. As we loaded the bus and pulled away from the hotel, it was hard to believe that we were entering the last phase of our journey. We had some free time in the train station, and I picked up some McDonalds coffee (ironically the fast food place was more expensive than a lot of our meals Xi’an). The train ride itself was relatively uneventful, and I found myself able to breeze through 300-400 pages of the game of thrones novel I was reading. I wasn’t too hungry and so decided not to buy lunch on the train (something I would later regret). Shanghai right away felt much more like a U.S. city. Instead of a massive sprawl that stretched in all directions, its urban area was relatively compact (The tour guide explained it was a third of Beijing’s area with a couple million more people). Apparently, we arrived during special hours where only drivers with special licenses could drive on the road. Still, it took us a while to navigate the traffic on our way to the hotel. Our new residence was in an area called the French Concession, which China had been forced to give to the French during the time of imperialism. The section was beautiful, with lots of trees and villas and cool looking restaurants. We didn’t have long to explore the area however, as we rushed off to the downtown area (without a chance for lunch). While there, we first went through a historical museum that traced the evolution of Shanghai. I found it relatively interesting, but a lot of it was just wax figure models instead of actual primary source artifacts, and the history stopped after the 1940’s. Dinner afterwards was much appreciated, and we had an amazing view of the Huang Pu river and city skyline. Our last activity was a nighttime cruise on the river itself. The boat was crowded with tourists, but we managed to get some pretty awesome views of the shining skyscrapers around us.

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