After the crazy day we had in Seoul, we played it safe today. We still went off on our own, but we didn’t use the train systems or taxis. I had planned our day around the local subway system, but when we got outside, Fred hopped on the shuttle bus, so I had to quickly alter our plans. After about half an hour of great city views in stop and go traffic, we were dropped at The Bund, which is a great pedestrian area along the Huangpu River. This area is known for it’s terrific views of Shanghai’s famous skyline and the approximately 3/4 mile of Gothic, Baroque and neoclassical style buildings that were built during the time of the International Settlement (the British and American settlements eventually merged into one around 1863, but they were originally granted in the Treaty of Nanking after the first Opium War ended in 1842). The skyline on the far side of Huangpu River is simply incredible and has replaced Hong Kong’s as my favorite. We snapped a quick photo or two and got directions to Nanjing Road.
The walk to Nanjing Road was just a couple of blocks. It’s a huge pedestrian-only shopping street with lots of multi-storied shopping centers. Mixed in with the familiar brands that you’d all recognize are other unfamiliar shops, signage, etc. It’s this strange clash of east meets west, but it works really well and frankly, after being away from home for so many weeks, it was comforting to see so many things that I recognized.
Another interesting thing: there are trains that run the length of the shopping district. Since we like to walk, we didn’t take them, but they seemed quite popular with both young and old.
Around lunch time, we stopped in what was essentially a multilevel food court. The shop at street level was filled with various types of snacks and candy. Fred was excited to find a snack he enjoyed as a kid: a red tangy dried plum treat known as chimpoy.
We then went to one of the upper levels and decided to try a Chinese restaurant there because it was packed with locals. They had menus with photos of the food and a very short (2-5 word) description of each dish in English. We ordered by pointing. The kids got dumplings and I tried to order some type of shrimp won tons, but apparently I pointed at the wrong item. When they brought our order to the table, I ended up with a chicken noodle soup. My stomach doesn’t really do well with meat, so I ended up eating a little of the broth and a few noodles. The kids were not really excited by their dumplings, so they devoured the majority of my soup. None of us were overly impressed with the food at the restaurant, but at least we got to try something local.
After eating, we walked another mile or so down the main drag and stopped by a park near a Starbucks, which wasn’t very exciting. Then we walked one block over from the main pedestrian street to see if the shopping was as good on the side streets. It wasn’t, so after a short jaunt, we ended up walking back the same way we’d come.
We spent the entire time we were there looking for men’s underwear – specifically men’s briefs to no avail. Fred didn’t bring quite enough on the trip, so he wanted to get a few more pairs in order to save us from doing laundry so often. I brought a translator app and a photo of what Fred wanted to buy and we’d show both to the sales attendant. It was a new shopping experience! Would you believe that every single department store we tried did not sell men’s briefs? Only one had a few packs, but they were out of size small in everything. Does anyone have any clue as to why it’s so difficult to find? I guess the answer to the age old boxers vs. briefs question is well known here. We looked when we were in Seoul, too, and had the same problem.
Fred was really hungry by this time, so we spent another hour looking for an Indian restaurant. We stopped by the huge Apple store that we’d seen on the way down, since we knew they had internet. After searching online, we realized that there weren’t any Indian restaurants close by, so we went into one of the malls and found a pasta place. Fred and I both got something there. They got my order wrong, too, though. Even after sending it back once and explaining that I could not eat dairy products, I ended up feeling nauseous from something in the dish. At this point, we had to head back to the ship. We were back at the shuttle bus around 5:30pm and made it back to the ship a little after 6pm. It was not our best experience on this cruise, but I think we were still a little shaky from our crazy day in Seoul. We should be back to our usual adventurous selves by the time we reach our next port.