To make travel just a little more entertaining, we decided to become a roaming reporter and camera crew to interview locals at destinations we visited. My friend Paul was the roaming reporter know as Paul Walker, while I was the cameraman. The best part is that 95% of the people believed it and were so happy in being interviewed. In April of 2008, we decided to visit Shanghai. This time around, more people traveled with us. Angelo, Ben, Paul, Elyse , Silvia and myself.
We arrive at the newly constructed Pudong International Airport after a 15 hour flight and without any hesitation, Paul Walker finds a group of more than 30 chinese and starts the interview. That definitely started the trip with a laugh since we noticed that a language barrier would be prevalent during this trip. Head down to the station and board a high-speed train that took us to the city center in just 6 minutes. The train traveled at a speed of 430 Km/h. Pretty impressive.
I’ve heard of the over crowding population, but when you see it live, it has a whole new meaning of claustrophobia. Everywhere you turn, you have walls of people. To be honest, it was very concerning and the sense of “closing in” made us all look for open spaces; with a population of over 17 million, it was quite hard.
We visit several touristic places like the Yuyuan old street, the Ritz Carlton Shanghai, and the Bund area. We even took a tour to the Yu Gardens whereby the guide recounted stories while showing us the beautiful landscape.
How can one go to China and not look for knock-off deals on practically any merchandise. We went to 2 shopping areas that were highly recommended. The Nanjing shopping area and the Fenshine Fashion Mall. As highly these places were recommended, warnings of possible pick pockets couldn’t be emphasized more. They say those locations were the epicenter of personal violations and robbing. Hang on to your belongings, know your conversion rate, and walk straight to avoid eye contact. We all watched each others back and the shopping experience was a positive one. I purchased a Saku Koivu hockey jersey and while I figured what do the chinese know about hockey, still to this day it looks authentic and in great shape. Silvia helped me select a nice Jimmy Choo purse for my wife which she enjoyed for years.
On a side street adjacent to our hotel, we found a place that advertised “feet massage”. After the days of heavy walking, we decided to enquiry about the service. For only a merely 5$ USD, we were able to get our feet pampered for 45 minutes. It was great and despite no one spoke a word of english, our conversations were flowing easily. We’ve become regulars for the 3 nights we stayed in Shanghai. As it turned out, we enter a small store and hear a caucasian tourist speak in french. Introducing ourselves, we come to find out that this individual was the sound engineer for Celine Dion for which was in town for her concert. What are the chances….
As the short vacation was drawing to an end, we decided to go visit the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower. A futuristic looking tower emerging from a huge ball. The area was very modern and tourists and locals alike filled the squares. We took the elevator ride to see the skyline, but even on a clear day the visibility is challenging since Shanghai has so much smog. With Paul’s continued interviews, we all laughed and had a splendid time. He even tested his negotiating and bargaining skills in purchasing a watch from street vendors. He had 5 of them all competing for his measly 20$ watch.