As an Acoustic Neuroma surgery survivor (taking into account those who are W&W and post-radiation) I often read questions that come up regarding air travel. “Is it safe? Comfortable? Possible?” I am here to say, “YES!” and even in the extreme.
I tried to write about 48 hours after I arrived home from getting on a plane in Dallas at the end of my ANA Board meeting. 48 hours before that I was on a plane returning from six days in Shanghai to go to Dallas for said meeting. The operative word is “tried” because for those 96 hours, I felt like I was just barely able to function, putting one foot in front of the other, being “awake” because it was light out, and blessing the universe when dark came so that I could sleep.
Until then, I could barely put pen to paper (or hands to keyboard) for much more than a few characters together in an email, on an Instagram photo or response to a Facebook comment. But as I started thinking about the past ten days, and how amazing they were, I knew I was ready to share them (if anyone was interested.)
So I’m breaking my trip to Shanghai into a few postings, about the touristy part of the trip itself, I will post on my personal blog, not on the ANA page. It will include more scenic photos and stories of my sometimes successful-at-traveler, sometimes culture-clashing experiences.
There is an earlier one about the business of the International Acoustic Neuroma Conference in Shanghai. There are some photos and videos along with that, which was shared on the ANA website as well.
After 14 hours of travel and the 15 hour time difference, I was TOAST! Getting through customs in Vancouver BC was pretty simple, then getting out of the airport in Shanghai was equally easy. Thankful for my personal travel agent Genny Cohn who encouraged me to arrange for roomy seating on the plane, and there was a seat between me and my row-mate (even though she quickly took up both seats and curled up to sleep) at least I had room for my legs. Note to self-take shoes OFF on long distance flights.
Did I mention that there was a higher than usual quota of screaming children on this flight? And the ear plugs offered by the airline were lame. Lucky for me I brought my own from home. No baby can scream loud enough to break through them!
Getting off the plane was like walking through a paparazzi line, only instead of calling the names of celebrities, they were all yelling “taxi.” In my exhaustion, I realized that yes, I needed a taxi. 450RMB later, I was in a taxi that at times went speeds of up to 150kh. When I safely arrived at my hotel, I found out it should have only cost 200RMB. Lesson #1 learned. I chose a Marriot for two reasons. I knew they would speak English, and I wanted the points. 😉
The hotel had quite a spread of evening repast. I was too tired to eat, and tried to sleep, to get ready for my first day in China.
GOOD MORNING SHANGHAI this was the view from my 9th floor hotel room window. If you see the two taller buildings on the left, the spire of the Pearl Hotel can be seen in the grey haze. That’s the neighborhood where the conference was taking place, a 20 minute walk, and 12 minute “Mr. Toad’s-Wild-Taxi-Ride.”
After I checked in, I had half the day to wander. I took another cab to the west side, and visited the Jewish Refugee area. I had no idea this even existed until the day before I left home. Check this out if you are interested. www.shanghaijews.org.cn/English/ Thank you Becky Elmendorf!
This was one area where the Jewish refugees lived in Shanghai in the 40’s. Very European feel to the construction, and the colors were vibrant compared to the cement grey and blackened wood of the side streets.
I thought that if you clicked on any of these photos, you would see them larger. Sadly, no. Anyway, my maiden name “Simon” was shared by many refugees. I don’t know if any of them were relatives of my family, but it does explain (at least to me) why I feel like my Chinese friends are like family.
Peter Max, the artist who made his rise to fame in the age of 7-up had family members saved in Shanghai. He was always one of my favorites when I was in high school.
After the museum, I finally realized I hadn’t eaten a meal in about 36 hours and was ravenous. I didn’t want to go to a touristy place. I wanted to find a local spot!
Two men in the gift shop at the museum recommended a place to each lunch (street food) but not out of a cart. This was two blocks from the museum, but right across the street from a sweet little park. It smelled good, looked clean, and there were other normal looking people eating there. I decided my hunger overwhelmed my fear of the unknown.
This young man was very sweet, even looked pleasant while I took his photo. After I got home,I asked my personal interpreter (Caleb) to translate whatever the He*! I ate (the dish on the far right of the sign) and he could only tell me “peanut sauce.”
Yes, that is the evil green herb in that soup. I did taste the soup, I’m not a heathen, but I did not do more than that. The dumplings were filled with greens, I think broccoli and bok choy, and smothered in a tasty peanut sauce. I ate every bite.
This sign was at the entrance to the park across from the restaurant were I had lunch. It was very calming and serene there, unlike the roads and sidewalks.
I thought these men were so beautiful. I was trying to figure out if they were playing checkers or some other game.
I arrived back at the conference center, and still had a few hours to kill. The concierge at the hotel suggested I take the pedestrian trolly over to the Bund. It’s 4 minutes, I tried to load the video here, but it’s too big of a file. Here is the YouTube link if you want to see it.
Here’s the photo of the tunnel anyway.
In keeping with Caleb’s photo journal, I was amazed at how many people were at the Bund walking back and forth. I walked so much that first day, it was kind of surprising (and good, since I barely went anywhere for the next three days!) 😉
It was an amazing view to the east side of Shanghai from were I was. Yes, it’s very hazy there. My eyes were red and stinging like they haven’t been in years since I moved from L.A.
I got back to the east side before the sun set (and before the evening welcome.) This delicious champagne and lychee was not disappointing.
And as the sun set in the west over the far east, we called an end to a lovely day in Shanghai, looking forward to what the coming days would bring.
But wait, dinner was needed. Where better to get Shanghai dumplings than in Shanghai. I found a shopping mall and made my way to the food court. (I didn’t grow up in the Valley for nothing!) There was a bit of a communication breakdown, luckily a nice young man took pity on me and helped me figure out how to manuever through the food court. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. These were the most delicious things I ever ate, and there was so much sodium in them I swelled up like a balloon. My hands looked like Micky Mouse’s. It was worth it.
If you ever get to Shanghai, this is the place.
A final shot of the beautiful lights of the PuDong area. The photo of Toni&Guy is for my friend Emma!
Next: Lucky to be alive!!