I rode the maglev from the airport in to Pudong. Totally cool. Too short a trip though. But hey, it's a muthafuckin maglev!
I had a chance to walk around Shanghai a bit on Wednesday. Yup, it's polluted. However, visibility isn't as bad as some photos would have you believe. Given the humidity (~90%) I would expect more haze. That's where the good news ends though. The entire city reminds me of New York's Chinatown on a really hot day. Restaurants are draining who-knows-what in to the streets. There is always some sort of odor. It changes as you go, but it is always something unnatural. The sidewalks and streets are all covered in a thick layer of soot and gunk (hmm, Firefox isn't flagging "gunk" as misspelled). After a day of walking around, I was covered in said gunk. I have not seen any R.O.U.S.s, but I do believe that they exist.
Audience: how polluted is it?
Well, this article is about Beijing, not Shanghai, but I'm guessing that the statistics are similar:http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070807/hl_nm/china_pollution_police_dc
The traffic is like a smooth, well choreographed disregard for all rules. It's like a bowl of noodles. It's like a giant game of chicken without the machismo. It's agonizingly slow when there is no backup (imagine going 45mph on the I-5 when there are no cars around) and it's amazingly fast when there is a ton of traffic. Lane blocked? Go ahead and lane split, drive on the sidewalk, run the red light, drive in opposing traffic, and turn left in front of five lanes of oncoming cars. Also be careful of the scooters which are managing to break even more rules. Never mind the pedestrians, cars have the right of way. Of course, all of the sidewalks are blocked with crap, so the pedestrians are walking in the street.
Apparently, I don't exactly blend. I'm quite popular with beggars, pimps, and prostitutes. Other people are wearing T-shirts with English. Other people are wearing shorts and sneakers. Other people have backpacks. Perhaps I just look rich and horny.
I've had two meetings so far. The dude who has arranged my trip introduces me at the start of each meeting. He does so in Mandarin but I think I can make out something like, "Please forgive me for introducing you to this dishonorable son who has disgraced his parents by not learning Chinese."
Last night, after our meetings we treated to a big ol' Chinese banquet. I counted no less than 16 courses. Urp. I tasted jellyfish. It's crunchier than you would expect. I didn't like it, but I didn't gag.
Man it's hot. It's like Africa hot. I've been showering at least twice a day. Once in the morning because my bedhead frightens children. And once in the evening to remove the layer of filth.
Despite all the bitching, I am having a good time exploring. I think my meetings today will end early in the afternoon. Hopefully I can go exploring again once more before I leave.
I'm off to Singapore tomorrow. Maybe it will be cooler there. :P