alright, this is overdue. i got back two weeks ago today.
and a fair warning for those who only look at the pictures (cough rosey mcadams cough) there won't be any of me in this blogpost. ill put up some that i took but i'll have to wait until my friend Quinn puts up some pics before I have physical evidence that I was actually in these places.
Alright, so my adventure started in Shanghai. I'll spare the story about the horrible start I got on there, but let's just say I would have been much better off going straight to my hostel instead of blindly exploring because I was restless.
Shanghai was a metropolis of marvels. It features the skyline of Pudong - the one you've seen if you've seen pictures (the disco ball building and the huge magnet-looking tower) but outside of that it just sort of has these remote buildings that jut up toward the sky. From the middle of the city - People's Park - one could see at least ten or fifteen skyscrapers all occupying their own space.
For the most part, the people were kind to me. I was by myself in Shanghai - and I was only there for 40 hours - but I made due. I got up before 6am on my full day and walked around The Bund (the boardwalk on the river that splits the city) and through the Yuyuan temple area and gardens. I stumbled upon some other temples and at one point I found myself in one, lighting incense and following the lead of several old women bowing in all directions. Sweet.
Oh, and the dumplings. The benefit of getting up so early was that I was there when a stand opened, or had just opened, treating myself to the freshest of the fresh product. I don't know the Mandarin word for delicious but if I did I'd throw it here in italics.
I must have walked around for something like 6 or 7 hours and I spent the rest of the afternoon between my hostel meeting some people, eating more food and hanging out in the large, central park. Unlike young koreans, chinese students actively approached me and engaged me in conversation to practice their english. I had only a few free moments at the park - but it was a great way of meeting locals and talking with people.
Randomly ended up in an arcade too - and if you don't know Asian arcades are perhaps the most intense centers of activity in the country, far more than casinos, far more than sporting events. They take it. Played some games, met some more people.
Grabbed a drink with a Swiss guy at a pirate-themed bar and called it a night.
Next day I did a museum, saw some more of the enormous park, bought The Little Prince in Mandarin and headed to the airport.
It was a really spectacular city and a very cool introduction into China and its culture. I couldn't analyze enough of the city, let alone the country, in those 40 hours to provide more than that, but I really enjoyed it. It's as large of a city as you'll find and stil had some great parts where it felt small and wholesome.
Some Shanghai pics......
Alright, Hong Kong.
I think Shanghai would have been more impressive if I hadn't gone to Hong Kong right after. Hong Kong is this sort of unbelievable mix of insane metropolynesia. just a massive dowtown and banking and shopping district on the main island and then this large span of culturally intact places on Kowloon - where we stayed - and once you get further out a sprawl of hills, mountains and beaches. It's a composition of islands and its a sight to be seen, I would have to say that no other city on earth is quite like it.
My friend Quinn was waiting in Hong Kong when I arrived - having arrived the day before. My friends Joanna and Chris were also out there - visiting Hong Kong along with family and friends. We met both for some fun around the city. Our first night, Saturday, (I didn't get to the hostel until around 8 or 9) we went to the popular area for ex-pats to go out. Naturally we were lost trying to find it and stumbled upon an Italian guy who was heading in the direction. Simon? Simone? Either way, he decided to be a kind host and show us a bit of the area.
After realizing that we knew nothing of the area, he decided to impress us and showed us a bar on the 30th floor of a building that offered a deck and an amazing view of the city. Joanna, Quinn and I stood up there for some time taking it all in and celebrating our vacations and lives. It was quite a spectacular moment to be in.
Besides for that, In Hong Kong we had some great food - dim sum, fried noodles - got to venture over the world's largest sitting buddha on a separate island and far outside the city. took a few ferries across the river, walked along the banks of it and snapped quite a few pictures of the rows of towers.
to get to the buddha we took a long cable car ride over some hills and greenery and had a great view of the outer docks of Hong Kong near the airport and just how much of a string of islands it really is (one can easily forget when near the downtown)
It was sort of non-stop action since theres so much to see and we didn't have too much time.
Quinn and I also spent the better part of our Sunday going over to Macau which certainly did not disappoint. It's been a while since I've been to Vegas but I've seen some pictures and Macau just simply stands above it. Although, purely on just size and money. Macau has nothing of Vegas' party atmosphere - it is almost comically serious. Few people drink at the bars, they are eerily silent and entirely populated with Baccarat tables full of Chinaman cursing softly to themselves. We got to see the Venetian Macau - the world's 5th largest building by some estimates - and some other ones that were equally as impressive.
Anyway, Hong Kong was great and certainly inspired some part of us to get rich and move out there - since there were plenty of expats working for large international corporations that get to enjoy the fruits of the city in their 20s (with a healthy, healthy bank account).
Still, I have no problem settling for life as I have it now.
Some Hong Kong shots....
I'll be putting most of my pics on facebook soon for all to see.
Updates on Korea soon.