Made in China – Shanghai, China

I started off the day with room service noshing on my usual. I was pretty excited to get off the ship and explore Shanghai. We docked in the container port as we have been for most of the ports so far. I have never really looked at a huge operation like this before and was fascinated. Humongous cranes hauling around lunky metal rectangles, the kind you see trains pulling around. Its really quite a sight to behold and I couldn’t help but wonder out loud what the heck are in all those hundreds of metal boxes. A man nearby chimed in “Anything and Everything under the moon…heck, maybe even the moon!” Made in China, baby!

Marshan and I wandered through the streets happening upon Peoples Square which was ripe with photo opportunities. I was quite taken with the unique architecture adorning the city skyline. From jagged to circular to geometrical in shape, and spanning all eras from historical to modern to futuristic.

We finally found the main shopping street which was teeming with people even at 9am. It was pretty intense for me as I am not used to such crowds. I just kind of stared up at all the advertisements and the hoards of shoppers with an awestruck look on my face.

We found a place that would give us a 90 minute massage for 85 juan (about 10 dollars) so we happily obliged. The experience was unique but one I probably wouldn’t repeat anytime soon. The young lady twisted and punched at me but not in a way that felt very therapeutic. I suppose I am used to a more gentle predictable technique so though it was nice to have the human touch, I would prefer something more fluid. In the end, she finished with throwing a heated bean bag all over my body. It was strange indeed. Perhaps here is a case of you get what you pay for.

We meandered down the main shopping street and I reflected that the Chinese economy was thriving in Shanghai. People were buying up everything and there were even lines in some stores. Hundreds of touts were grabbing our arms, getting right in front of us with their promises of shoes, watches, designer bags, clothes, silk, wallets, everything, anything you want at a very good price. We were able to resist them for a few hours but near the end we crumbled and got taken into one of these elusive “everything” stores.

Hole in the wall shops which turn into rabbit holes filled with goods. You go through a door in the back of what looks like a tiny booth which reveal a long hallway ending in a bunch of backrooms with a bunch of stores inter joined. It was bizarre and very high pressure sales. If I were into designer knockoffs, I would have likely been in heaven. They even sold iPods which could be had for $20. We muscled out way out and almost got away…then I found the cheap Asian dress.

It was shiny electric blue silk with sexy slits up the sides. I was sure the lady was mistaken when she told me I could have it for 100 juan. I tried on a couple sizes and was pretty shocked when I learned that in Asia, I am no petite. Infact, it’s a good thing I don’t subscribe to labels, or I would be very disturbed that I am in actuality, an extra large according to Chinese sizing standards. A little apprehensive to buy it (knowing I won’t be xxl once I get off the ship) which the saleslady noticed so I actually got it for 82 juan which translates into just over 10 dollars. A Steal!

We bargained for some chopsticks (there are entire stores dedicated to this) and silk scarves then hightailed it through the parks back to the shuttle bus. It began to get to be a little much what with all of the chaos that is downtown Shanghai. They even have an amusement park smack dab in the middle of the city.

Once back onboard we got prime seats for the folkloric show which showcased Chinese Acrobats. We all stared in awe as the uber flexible and balanced children twisted and contorted themselves into pretzels. They flipped and twirled around the stage wowing the packed house. Ofcourse it wouldn’t be complete without plate spinning and juggling but I spent more time studying the beauty of the different children’s faces rather than the mechanics of their act. I suppose I wasn’t overly impressed because I have friends at home who hoop, juggle and perform sideshow acts with the best of them. Anyway, this was no cirque de soliel but I could see them trying with their limited resources and for that, kudos.

I made my way to the gym then met my friend Megan and the first senior officer for dinner. We chatted about all the extreme cases he had encountered while aboard ships and some of his stories were shocking. It was fascinating to hear from the perspective of a higher up what ship life is like. I can say that I am starting to understand what it must be like to live on a floating vessel since I am now coming up on a month.

Before bed I took a quick stroll through the promenade deck to see if there was anything worth staying up for. I happened upon a quirky comedian/juggler whose humor was clearly lost on this antique crowd. His juggling was actually quite impressive and he wasn’t bad to look at either. I stayed for most of it then made my way to bed. It was a great day and I felt full.

Grateful for entertainment.

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