We took a ferry from Osaka to Shanghai. It was a 48 hour boat ride and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into it, but it actually went really well. In fact, it was so nice, we started referring to it as our “poor man’s cruise.” The ship was very big, with three separate levels and lots of lounge space. My shared room was Japanese style with tatami mats. The room could sleep up to fifteen, but only two other women were in there–unfortunately, they each had a baby with them. Brad’s room was much larger and had about twenty guys in it. There was only one other Westerner??on board, a tattooed Canadian guy who spent the entire trip watching episodes of “House” on his Mac Book. The Asians all seemed very curious about us and a few asked us where we were from. At one point, Brad and I were playing Crazy 8′s and a Japanese man, who told us to call him Mr. T, asked if he could join us. I’ve never seen anyone get so into a game of Crazy 8′s.
I’m glad we entered Shanghai by boat because we were able to see the busiest seaport in the world. The entire river from the ocean to the city is lined with shipping ports. We saw thousands of shipping containers all stacked on top of each other, many cranes loading and unloading ships, and an incredible amount of boat traffic. At one point I counted thirty-seven boats around us. The sheer volume of cargo that goes through there is incredible. It was very interesting to see how all that “Made In China” stuff gets sent back to the US.
The city of Shanghai also seems like an interesting place. Walking down the Bund is a fun, but also somewhat odd, experience. One side of the river has beautiful, historical buildings that look like they belong in New York or Chicago. The other side is filled with modern, LED infused skyscrapers that were all built within the last twenty years, making a weird juxtaposition. I thought it was interesting that all the old Western buildings all had multiple Chinese flags up, as if they’re trying to claim those historical buildings and remind everyone that this is glorious China, not the West.
There’s just a really exciting energy in Shanghai. Maybe because of all the people and flashing lights. It’s the economic center of the country and it really feels like it. It’s also where the Communist Party of China started and we saw the room where they held their very first meeting. The propaganda displayed there was so one-sided it was hilarious.??Besides that, we didn’t do a whole lot in Shanghai. We spent one rainy day looking at sculptures, porcelain, paintings, and calligraphy at the Shanghai Museum. Most of the time we just walked around. The downtown area is crazy busy, but the French Concession area is fairly quiet and feels more like Europe. One night we splurged and bought German draft beer. It ended up being the best beer we’ve had on this entire trip. Now I’m more excited than ever for Oktoberfest!