We are in love with our hotel (see yesterday's post), and the food is wonderful. Breakfasts are luxurious (high quality tea and coffee), beautifully made omelets, and lots of interesting fresh fruit, to say nothing of the variety of breads, Chinese food, meats, fish, etc. OK, enough about the food.
Our first stop was the Shanghai museum--an exceptional variety of priceless jade, porcelain, bronze, chops, calligraphy and Chinese art. Hubert said that not many museums are included on most trips as "the Americans don't like them". Yikes--how can they not! The beauty of the culture is so elegantly displayed and vast, even though we didn't have time to see everything.
Our second stop today in the pouring rain :( was to another silk factory, except this one showed us the silkworms, process of taking the cocoons and spinning them into skeins of threads, and then making it into various materials, especially silk duvets and sheets. Although the prices are high for most things, they use the duvets as a loss leader and they are very reasonable. Also got two pillows which are very soft yet supple to support the neck. Upstairs, much more cloths, ties, scarfs, and other silk products and tourist knickknacks. In case you're wondering, Uniworld will ship the duvet and pillows to our final stop in Guilin, compressed and easy to carry. We will figure out how to get them home after that!
Back to the hotel for our second meal in one of their restaurants--dim sum. This is not your usual Cantonese dim sum with carts, calling out, putting stamps (chops) on the bill, etc. Very elegant, each of the 5 courses which included more than one type ranged from the usual dumpling style with pork, one with mushrooms, several with shrimp, and the last dessert was a deep fried coconut milk fritter. Are you hungry yet?
Back to our bus for --finally!--shopping. The old town is a 15 minute drive and included passing through the center of Shanghai where we passed many hotels including the JWMarriott where we found out the NY Philharmonic is staying. Sent a note to Colin Williams who responded, but no time or way to get together.
The old town is very touristy with winding alleyways, hundreds of stores, carts and people wanting to sell you a variety of merchandise or follow you around the store where evidently they can get a small commission if they bring you there.
The pouring rain dampened our energy and buying power (pun intended), but drank several varieties of tea (very expensive, didn't get any here), saw lots of freshwater pearls, and walked through at least 20 places (including one "unauthorized" one) to find gifts to bring home. Didn't get half of what Wendy had planned, so we still have some shopping to do, probably in Hong Kong. Jim being a wimpy shopper (sorry Jim), went back to the meeting place to hang out while Wendy continued on her quest to find several items. Since dinner was on our own, we made a last minute dash for the local "food court" to see if we could bring something home to eat that was Chinese and not a McDonald's hamburger. Mission accomplished.
To finish off the night, we went to a spectacular performance of the Shanghai acrobats. Although the audience was strictly foreigners, some of whom we had bumped into at either the market or the hotel, we were all most appreciative of the acrobatics, contortions, motorcycle stunts (six bikes inside a ssteel-caged sphere), high-wire work and more. They train for more than 10 years and many are under 20 or a few years older.
The rain had let up a little when we got back allowing us to see the splendid and colorful skyline of Shanghai. Even outside our window, it is mesmorizing.
Tomorrow we have a late morning (that means we don't have to be out at 6:30) and fly to Yichang where we board our cruise down the Yangtze River.