itchy feet cravings

First Destination: Shanghai

Shanghai skyline

I was ecstatic that day I got a call from my office that I’d be assigned to cover an event abroad. I felt giddy, for about five minutes, mentally digesting that finally my dream of traveling is about to be fulfilled. Coupled with the excitement is the anxiety and which produced an uneasy feeling in my gut probably due to stress, uncertain as I was, and with only one week to prepare. Luckily, I was ready with my passport, but the hassles of applying for a visa and submitting other travel documents made me realize the hassles that go with traveling. And I thought that was just about it. Afterwards, I had to check on the weather, contemplating on what clothes I should be wearing and bringing with me and what else to pack. So for the life of me, I was just totally freaked out—excited but freaking out inside. Good thing, though, I have friends in the industry who were there ready to help me on my first foray and to keep my sanity in check. When I was told by my editor the destination is Shanghai, I immediately “Googled” this city and trawled for information. I imagined Shanghai as a bustling metropolis considering it is China’s premier financial district. We arrived here early October in 2007 and the weather was cool. We had a very hectic schedule so it was a good thing we arrived here two days ahead of our official itinerary for a chance to explore the place. We stayed at the Barony Hotel (I’m not so sure about the address) but there’s a convenience store and quaint restaurant just across the street that serves good Chinese food in large portions. (I think this is typical of Chinese dishes, plus, it was affordable). And if you are comfortable with street food, you’ll find a plethora of it here. Try chicken feet—it’s a Chinese delicacy which I did not try to eat. Located at the eastern part of China, Shanghai is ranked as the most populous city. It steadily rose to become one of the world’s leading cities where fashion, culture, and commerce flourish (source: Wikipedia). The city sits on the Yangtze River Delta on China’s eastern coast and is halfway through Beijing and Hongkong which are two other premier cities in China. Though the etymology of the city’s name, as I understood it, is still being debated, it was generally understood Shanghai means “upper sea.” Over the years, though, it earned several nicknames like “the Great Athens of China” because of the international activity occurring here, being the most important business hub in the Far East even before World War II. An embassy official and a Filipino-Chinese businessman accompanied our group to a tour of Yuyuan Garden, the Bund, the Huangpu River and a mall where we all had a sumptuous lunch. If you have limited time to visit Shanghai, locals here advise that you visit these places. At each place, you could see a neat combination of British, French, American and Chinese culture (a mix of East and West). I was attracted to the Chinese architecture, dimsum, food and the fashion sense of the female population here. Despite being Communist, it is clear Western influence has strongly infiltrated this part of China. As far as I know, Shanghai is now accelerating efforts to gain prestige as a world famous tourist destination as it has embarked on a five year plan (2011-2015) for the construction of at least 13 major projects. This includes the construction of (Shanghai) Disneyland Park. (Source: People’s Daily Online) When Shanghai Disneyland opens (target year is 2013), I will definitely try my best to go back here and explore the city some more. When I do, I would also seize the chance to see some museums, villages and unique spots to get oriented on Chinese arts and culture. Though my stay here was short, I relish the fact that my first travel destination was Shanghai.

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