After a fruitless search across the plains of the internet to find flights and information about Mongolia or Kunming, I bitterly retread the land of shengjianbao to see if I could find a better price than the 3 kuai for four that I had previously been subjected to. I didn’t, but I did get some jiaozi as well, one of which I immediately dropped on the ground. Evan, more dexterous than I, managed to eat all of his. Smugly.
The dumplings were just a stop along the way to the Yu Yuan, or Yu Gardens, a semi-famous Shanghai tourist trap that boasts several multi-floor quasi dollar stores and a nine turns bridge, which consists of, as one might imagine, nine ninety degree turns. This is due to one of my favorite pieces of Chinese trivia: ghosts cannot turn corners. Evan noted the high door stoop on the tea house in the middle of the bridge, also a preventative measure for ghost incursion. It is, perhaps, the least haunted building in all of China.
After browsing past the myriad Starbucks and Dairy Queens and wondering at the reasons for having at least two of each in the same complex, we stopped by Din Tai Fung, a dim sum place whose claim to fame rests on the fact that it is a Taiwanese chain that does Shanghainese Xialongbao extremely well and also charges extremely high prices. In small servings, however, the check is palatable, and the xialongbao (or XLB, as internet nerds like to type it) are an excellent metric for comparison when you invariably move on to the tiny hole-in-the-wall places that dot the Shanghai landscape.
The end of the meal marked the beginning of wading through dingy, urine-soaked alleys (for a taste of culture) and stores hawking truly awful wares. The tour then took us to the ferry, which costs an astounding 8 cents to get across the river, at which point we trekked over to the World Financial Center to have a drink at 100 Century Avenue, the highest (in terms of building height) bar in the world. The view was nice but the experience was a little sullied by the guy smoking filthy chinese cigarettes next to us and the shocking 90 kuai price tag on a bottle of water – at least the water we needed. The AC dried us off just in time for us to head back out into the heat, where we decided to walk down Nanjing Lu, a walking street whose purpose seems to be a place to put McDonald’s and street salesmen who, when you turn down their offers for watches or bags, instead move on to massages, sex massages, or “fucKK with lady” (with a very hard K) for the low, low price of a bottle of water at 100 Century Avenue.