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Published: September 24th 2005
View of the Hangpu River from our hotel room
Thursday, September 15, 2005 Weather: Still lovely. Temperatures: In the 80's.
Our breakfast was included every day on the trip. On most occasions it was in the breakfast room of the hotel and was a nice western buffet with eastern items available to those who chose to experiment. The only word that I can think of to describe the breakfast at the Shangri-la is "overwhelming." The Yi Café on the second floor of the hotel is the breakfast venue. It is huge. There are stations for just about everything and anything. It is also crowded. This is a convention hotel.
There were lines everywhere. It was necessary to wait for a while to be seated and coffee did not come promptly. Without a doubt there were hundreds of people in there and something to satisfy anyone — all you had to do was find it! We were seated not far from the entrance which WAS far from most of the stations. Near us was a bakery station where I was able to find a croissant and some sweet rolls. Coffee finally did arrive and, I must admit, I was happy to finish and leave. Just too busy for my
We assembled punctually in the lobby and were taken to our waiting bus for a driving tour around the city. The principle stop this morning was at the Yuyuan Gardens. Our local guide told us that if you have been to Shanghai and not visited the Yuyuan Gardens you really had not seen Shanghai. The gardens are located nearby a shopping bazaar in the old town so we had to walk through the shopping area to get to the gardens. These gardens date to the Ming Dynasty and contain five acres of pavilions and winding paths. After spending an hour visiting the gardens we were taken to a meeting point then released to do some browsing or shopping for an hour. Even here there were signs of modern Shanghai such as a Dairy Queen! There is no problem finding many American franchises in Shanghai. We saw many McDonald's as well as some Pizza Huts and KFC's. We strolled among the booths lining the bazaar and picked up some more gifts for the grandchildren returning to the meeting point precisely on time.
From there we returned to our bus and proceeded to The Bund. This area is the
riverfront along the Hangpu River and is a broad concrete promenade running many blocks. The group was asked if they preferred to walk the entire Bund and have the bus meet us at the other end or just take a short walk around the area where we were located. No contest! The bus stayed, the walk was short and soon we were on our way to yet another Chinese lunch in a local hotel. After lunch we returned to our palatial rooms at the Shangri-la for a brief rest before heading out for the rest of the day and evening.
Our next stop was an absolute delight! Around 4:00 p.m. we returned to the bus and were taken to the Children's Palace. This is a private institution where Chinese families may send their children after regular school hours for additional instruction in areas such as mathematics, computer science, art and other disciplines that we often consider as "gifted and talented" programs in the U.S. We saw children playing violin, dancing and doing sculpting and pottery. In the dancing class they were doing a routine and suddenly invited the guests to participate with them in something similar to a conga
line. It was precious! They were great ambassadors for tourism.
Upon completion of the class visits we had the opportunity to visit a gift shop where some beautiful work was available for purchase with the proceeds going to support the work of the school. It appeared that classes lasted about an hour as we saw many children being picked up by parents as we departed.
After leaving the Children's Palace we drove back across the river to a hotel on the Pudong side for another typical Chinese dinner. When I say typical it refers to a lazy Susan with numerous dishes and bowls of foods being circulated and numerous people still trying to prove that they can handle chopsticks. Forks were available to those of us who wished to use them.
Upon completion of dinner we headed for the evening's entertainment - the Shanghai Acrobats. The performance was held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel that was back over on the Puxi side of the river and we were in evening rush hour traffic. The performance started at 7:30 p.m. and at that hour we were close but not quite there. By the time we arrived the show had
A lovely promanade along the riverfront
already started but Viking had reserved seats for us right in the front and center. The theater was filled with tourists. I would venture to say that they had all come with groups. The theater looked like it held about 1,500 and was full. The performance was quite good. Some of the acts reminded me of Cirque du Soleil. It lasted 90 minutes with no intermission following which we returned to our bus and to our hotel.
This was the last night of the tour. Most of our fellow travelers were heading home the next day or leaving for the Hong Kong extension. Our plans were to stay in Shanghai for an additional day and that is highly recommended. It is a huge, modern city with many things to see and even a day extra does not begin to scratch the surface.
By the time we got back to the hotel it was close to 10 p.m. and another day was over. We would see some of our traveling companions the next morning but some others had early flights so we missed saying goodbye to them.
Next: Shanghai on our own.
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