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July 7th 2006
Published: July 11th 2006
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Urban Planning MuseumUrban Planning MuseumUrban Planning Museum

This is part of the scale model of the entire city of Shanghai. Pretty crazy stuff.
It's been nearly two weeks here in China and I thought I'd update all of you on my travels. First off, as you know I spent the first week of my post-baccalaureate life in Bermuda, and it was a great time. I spent the mornings scuba diving, the afternoons sightseeing, and the evenings doing some fine dining. Our hotel was beautiful, the sand was pink, and the weather was great. We got around by moped, which was a good learning experience and convinced me further that I'd like to get a motorcycle when I get back to LA. For the diving, we explored a few shipwrecks and some coral reefs - it was very beautiful. At one very fancy restaurant we had a seven plus course meal with wine pairings - the food was quite exquisite, although many of the wines were a bit too sweet for my palate. While I was in Bermuda I did manage to spend one afternoon on the beach, sleeping, although it was foggy and cool, and I went to a cool natural history exhibit and a glass blowing workshop. But when the vacation part ended, I had to hurry back to LA, finish packing my
Out and AboutOut and AboutOut and About

Left to Right: Hisae, Chuck, Benny, Me, Brandon, Tina. This is at one of the bars we've been to in Shanghai.
belongings, and get ready for China.

Since I've been here I visited the Urban Planning Museum in Shanghai, which has a complete scale model of the city - very cool, plus I've been learning a little bit of Chinese and about the effects of globalization in China. It's been quite interesting. I also went today to visit an old synagogue turned museum - apparantly the city of Shanghai was a large refugee center for European Jews during WWII. Last weekend I took a trip to Beijing to meet up with a couple of friends from back in LA who were out there, and saw many of the historical sites (Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Great Wall, etc.) that Shanghai lacks. Beijing is supposed to host the Olympics in a couple of years, but they are WAY far from being ready. If they can manage to do what Shanghai has been doing, though, they should be able to develop rather rapidly. My friend Ryan Finstad, who did the same program I'm on two years ago, just arrived in Shanghai a couple of days ago and commented on how much the city has developed just in the last two years -

At Zapata's, a Mexican bar, on a Tuesday night when everyone else is where? We were the only ones there besides a small group of Germans. I tried to dance with the German lady but her boyfriend just laughed, picked me up, and put me down back by our table. I guess I was pretty wasted since I don't remember that happening, but that's what I was told.
for example, a huge subway system was installed. In my opinion, Beijing would be a terrible place to live, as it's basically a huge slum and the people are not very friendly. Shanghai, however, is great, and I could see myself spending a long time here. Tomorrow we're going as a class to the biggest steel mill in Shanghai (and maybe the world?) to check out firsthand how things are done in a manufacturing capital.

I've been eating lots of different kinds of foods - one of my favorites is the lamb skewers that you buy from the street vendors. My insides have been unhappy with me, but it's worth it. It's amazing how much the proce of food varies from one place to the next - I can spend as little as 5 RMB (about $0.68) for a meal, or as much as 200 RMB ($25). The main difference is not even in the quality of the food - it's the crowd to whom the restaurants cater. The bars are relatively expensive here - I can buy a large (660ml) beer at the supermarket for 3 RMB (like $0.38) or a small (300 ml) beer at the bar
Foot MassagesFoot MassagesFoot Massages

Soooooo good. I definitely slept through a lot of it.
for 45 RMB ($5.75). Bars here cater pretty much to foreigners - the locals drink baijou, a strong liquor about 90 proof, which costs about 8 RMB ($1) for a 500ml bottle. It's cheap and suprisingly not that bad. I guess I've been doing a lot of partying, pretty much going out every night, but it's hard to resist when the taxis are dirt cheap, the bars and clubs keep the party going all night long until after sunrise, and my group of friends is pretty much always looking to go out. Nonetheless, I've been healthy and happy, even with the crappy World Cup games that have kept me up all night bemoaning the results. I think I'll be spending some time this weekend doing my classwork, though, since I have yet to crack open those books.

Additional photos below
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The subway isn't really a subway, since it's not all underground. It's more like BART. This is the station nearest our university (ECNU).
Ohel MoisheOhel Moishe
Ohel Moishe

One of the two original Shanghai synagogues still standing. It is now a museum, where old Chinese men delight in telling you about Jewish history.

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