Doesn't to be "Shanghai'ed" mean to be screwed over, cheated of
something? Whatever it means, right now it should signify development
gone wild. Skyscrapers everywhere, I'm no longer skeptical of the
statistic I heard: that Shanghai erected more skyscrapers last year
than NYC has in total. From the Bund, a (grossly polluted) waterway
with paved trails along it and people selling kitsch that amounts to a
main tourist attraction in this construction zone of a city, you can
literally look in every direction and see many skyscrapers and
multiple more being constructed.
With only a day planned here, I focus on a random path. This yields good results, and I come very close to buying a folding bicycle. However, riding it makes me feel like it's about to fall apart; childhood memories of a bike I found in the trash and the groin-grabbing pain of attempting to catch some air resulting in the handlebars coming off probably subconsciously sealed the deal.
I also happen upon a movie theater, convenient because I'd been trying to hunt down an English-language local periodical to find listings. Even better: it had the movie I wanted at a time that worked with English subtitles on an Imax screen. Chow Yun Fat's "The Curse of the Golden Flower" felt like Macbeth with the royal family, with some Oedipus-like elements invading the Imperial Palace for good measure. Few fight scenes, but the ridiculous coolness of the ninjas and their moves more than compensates for this. My favorite part is the "it's all good" chants throughout: as all hell breaks loose and blood spills among the royal family, the servants dutifully maintain announcements, ie "it is the Hour of the Tiger. All perfection rests in the royal family."
A planned stop requiring some sleuthing (different name, not the best Shanghai map fucking Let's Go) but more than worth it is the Bund Observatory. More specifically, the bar on the rooftop. Most specifically, a gin and tonic while I stand alone on the rooftop patio, skylines laid out before me as if for this exact moment in my precise spot. Fuck making money and most else: my life will be largely about moments like this.
Last but far from least are some heavenly vegetarian dishes. Sonyue Lou's for lunch and Gongdelin Vegetarian Restaurant for dinner both made me feel like I could easily be vegan, if only one of these restaurants was located next door to my house and the other's cook decided to come backpacking with me all the time. One dish at Sonyue Lou's was noodles with spiciness and about a dozen nut/mushroom things I could not identify but did like. I also got Sichuan fish, more out of curiosity than hunger. The waiter had warned me it was a vegetarian fish, and he wasn't kidding. I don't know what it was made of, but I had some white noodle/vegetable thing with streaks of red like veins running through it that was pretty close to the consistency of fish and more similar in taste than you'd think a bunch of veggies could be. Gongdelin was just as good if not better, spicy tofu and a bunch of nut-like things reasonably mimicking shredded pork.
And then my luxury suite for the night: a train to Tunxi, the closest city to a supposedly badass mountain I intend to visit. 94 yuan (<$14) gets me not-so-hard seats to sleep on (thankfully uncrowded), transportation to my next spot, and a bit more appreciation for the luxuries of home that I underappreciate.