|Jenny on West Lake|
In fact renting a boat proved to be incredibly easy. We merely had to drop off 100 Yuan as a deposit (about 15 bucks; locals got to pay less, but that's understandable). The actual price was about 20 Yuan per half hour. After donning clumsy lifejackets we boarded a four-seater model, finding a motor with three positions: on, off, and reverse. The speed was something close to walking. We loved it. Dragonflies darted around us (one getting snapped up by the jaws of a baby duck) and other boaters hailed each time we passed. Children were particularly thrilled to shout variations of English greetings at us. We'd reply with our best efforts in Mandarin, earning giggles. Lotuses and weeping willows dripped into the water as we drifted for about an hour and a half. The whole trip cost less than we'd pay for a movie back home. Worth every penny.
|Lovely trees dipping into West Lake|
Around lunchtime we paid for our priciest meal yet, a serving of Beggar's Chicken, a separate plate of shrimp, and some Longjing tea. Beggar's Chicken… how to describe it? Well, it involves a whole chicken, some lotus leaves (sometimes tea), mushrooms, cabbage, and ginger, and other flavorful additions. The concoction is stuffed, wrapped, and shoved into a glop of either mud or clay, which is then baked for hours and hours until to glop hardens. Crack it open and get a whiff of a smell that can hardly be imagined. Muddled in a stew of bones and veggies, the chicken is so tender that it might be confused with soup. Yum?
|Temple of Yue Fei|
|Yue Fei, beloved patriot the Southern Song Dynasty|
By nightfall we arrived in Shanghai. Right away, I wanted to tour Nanjing Road, which is well known for a dazzling assortment of animated neon signs. Problem was, most of the signs were turned off. It was around ten at night; what was the deal? OK, I figured we could at least see the famed Pudong skyline. But Jenny wasn't too impressed with that idea. She figured that we were too far from the river (She was pretty tired too). Well, I kept drifting toward the river until she said she'd had enough. I agreed and turned back toward our hotel. And that's when Jenny spotted it: the glittering, blinking Oriental Pearl Tower.
|This is where the 21st century was born|
|Sign in our Shanghai hotel. Not much to add, really...|