After seven days in Beijing I was ready for a change. So I sent an email to my good friend Simon and started looking into high speed train tickets to Shanghai.
Simon’s Dad, Jean-Paul, lives in Shanghai with his wife Limin and two lovely kids Alex (5) and Molly (8). After a few emails and some phone calls between Simon (who was in London, ON) and his Dad we managed to sort out a plan and I booked a ticket to Shanghai to stay with the family for two nights.
The train ride was a welcome change of pace. I spent most of the ride writing postcards and reading Chronicles by Bob Dylan, listening to music and dozing in between chapters. The high speed train turns a 12-13 hour trip into a 5.5 hour haul, speeding South through the Chinese countryside and rice patties.
I arrived in Shanghai and took the subway to meet Limin and settle in at their beautiful home only 15 minutes from the city’s core. After getting to know the kids and playing a few games Jean-Paul arrived home from work and we had a delicious meal of authentic, home-cooked Chinese food. Braised short ribs, tofu, beans, rice, chicken – you name it.
Following dinner Jean-Paul gracious got in the car and drove me downtown to walk along the Bund at night and see the bright lights of the young city. The downtown of the city is mostly composed of towering sky-scrapers, most toppeed with unique designs reflecting the traditional of ancient Fengshui. It is an interesting juxtoposition between the old and the new as the buildings all take on a decidely modern form.
We strolled along the river in the evening’s mist (a nice change from the biting cold and desert like climate of Beijing) and ended up at the foot of one of the tallest towers. Jean-Paul ushered me into the building and we rode the elevator to the 56th floor where there is a hotel. The view was amazing and I was really able to take in the city despite the fog. He told me he had a surprised and we strolled into the hotel’s bar (I was terribly under dressed in jeans and converse) where a jazz band was playing and the ceiling was 40 stories high. The setting oozed luxury – something Shanghai is known for.
The next day Limin was kind enough to take me under her wing and take me around the city visiting a temple, Yu Yuan Gardens, the Bund, old Shanghai’s narrow streets and even riding the ferry. I think we were both pretty wiped out by the days end when we sat down to a dinner at home of Shanghai’s hairy crab.
Yes, that’s right, hairy crab. For those of you who know me well you know I am not partial to seafood but I followed Limin and Jean-Paul as they showed me how to crack the shell and dig out the buttery, sweet meat. I’ll admit, it was quite good and I wouldn’t object to eating the delicacy again.
The kindness of Jean-Paul, Limin, Molly and Alex was overwhelming. It was so nice to spend a few days with a family, hearing the kids practice piano and reading bed time stories when I was miles away from home. Thank you to Simon for arranging the visit and to Jean-Paul, Limin, Molly and Alex for welcoming me into the family. I will never forget the whirlwind 3 days I spent in Shanghai.
Now Therese and I are packed and heading off to Malaysia tonight. Blog posts might be harder to complete as we won’t have a computer of our own but I’ll try to keep updating as often as possible.