The first day was a long day of travel. Everyone was on time for the airport and we got through check-in and security quickly and without incident. The only thing that was confiscated was one tube of toothpaste, and then not until China. The trip from New York to Beijing was long but we all made it through. Most of the students slept quite a bit of the time. The transfer in Beijing took a bit longer than we expected and given that we only had one hour and fifty minutes to make our connection we were fortunate that we didn’t have to wait even longer in the security lines there. Recently, connections in Beijing from international flights to certain domestic airports do not require getting your luggage and then rechecking it, so we were able to skip that time consuming step. We made it to the gate with about fifteen minutes to spare. The flight from Beijing to Shanghai was similarly uneventful, though the taxi from landing to the bus, and then the bus ride from the plane to the terminal added half an hour. We were met in Shanghai by our tour guide and bus from Yangzhou and headed into the city. We arrived at the hotel close to 11 o’clock – some twenty-four hours after setting out from GS—but everyone checked in and it was a quiet night.
The second day began with a very nice breakfast at our hotel. We ran into another group of students from a school in Connecticut who had been with us all the way from New York; quite a coincidence that they were staying in the same hotel, as well as taking the same flights. Theirs is a two week trip: after Shanghai they are headed to Xian, then to Beijing, primarily for sightseeing. We set off from the hotel at 9 and headed to the Shanghai Museum, an excellent museum with some wonderful exhibits of Chinese painting and calligraphy and seals and ancient Chinese currency and ceramics. It is right in the middle of Shanghai and after spending an hour and a half there we wandered over to People’s Park hoping to see the matchmaking that parents do for their children. Unfortunately, that seems to be a weekend event, so instead most of the students just hopped on the bumper cars. Fortunately, the Chinese drive on the same side of the road as we do in America. After the park, we went for a very substantial and wonderful lunch of Shanghainese food.
After lunch, we headed to an area in Shanghai where they have preserved the old narrow lanes. It’s quite an interesting place to walk, though the stores are now selling modern goods including lots of tchotchke and bubble tea, clothing, etc., with some nice stuff as well. We then got on the bus and headed over to Pudong, the modern face of Shanghai on the other side of the Huangpu River. There we headed up some 490 meters—almost into the clouds—to get a bigger view of Shanghai. Fortunately for us the forecast for showers was wrong and we had a fairly clear, though by no means blue sky, day. We then headed off for another meal this one not quite so big but still quite good. After dinner we took a nice cruise on the River where we were able to see the lights and the buildings on both sides. We arrived back at the hotel before 10, allowing everyone to—hopefully—get a good night’s sleep before we head to Hangzhou in the morning.