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Thursday - May 17 - Up at 0530 - preparing luggage - Watching BBC news on flat screen TV - Breakfast at 0600- - best waffles to order so far, plus juice and all - we take opportunity to check out the hotel swimming pool and exercise rooms on top floor - Check out of hotel at 0915 with luggage already taken by Vantage as usual. Then bus ride to Hu Qing Yui Tang Traditional Chinese Pharmacy. The bus lets us out at the entrance to Hefang Jie street, lined on both sides with shops. We enjoy the walk and window shop along the way. There will be more time for active shopping on the way back. The pharmacy museum and shop is in an interesting wooden old-style building. There a doctor of Chinese medicine gives a lecture on the principles of Chinese medicine including use of herbs. Then he invites each traveler to come forward and have a personal medical assessment. This is performed by taking the pulse, examining the palm of the hand and the tongue. During the walk back we examine antiques, swords, souvineers, medieval armor, and admire the colorful buildings. I stop and put on a suit of model Tang Dynasty armor to pose for photos - cost 160 Y - made immediately with digital camera and a Kodak printer. There are many Chinese posing, mostly in civilian imperial court robes. In addition to receiving the photos from the shop, I give my camera to a young bystander and ask him to take some photos. It doesn't enter my mind that he could easily disappear into the crowd with my camera. But he is honest and even refuses my offer of a tip. Again we travel by bus to another elegant Chinese restaurant in the Marco Polo Hotel for a 12 or 13 course luncheon, including beer and Coke. They serve so much food in order to display variety that people can not eat it all. By now at least we know not to eat too much of the first courses in order to be able to sample the later courses. It is a shame so much goes to waste unless the restaurant has some way to give the remains to charity. There is chicken, fissh, many vegetables, beef, rice, fruit including candied pineapple. All this is set in a gorgeous decor. Then we go by bus again, to the train station. This also is much better than any train station I have seen in Russia. There is a huge crowd of Chinese travelers, but they are very orderly. Vantage has reserved our seats all together in one car. This is a high speed special train, but an even faster train will be built next year.
We arrive in Shanghai at 1505. Of course the Vantage bus is waiting. The Shanghai train station is also modern and very clean. Now the bus takes us on an even more impressive multi level, elevated expressway than those in Beijing. There are four levels criss crossing at the intersections. We arrive at the Regent Hotel in Shanghai, 1116 Uam Am Road at 1545. In contrast to Hangzhou the hotel is set in the midst of a multitude of modern, glass and steel high-rise buildings. Again, this hotel is a step up from the last, amazingly. It has it all as usual, well stocked rooms with very modern decor, with a Chinese flavor. A gorgeous entrance and lobby area. The hallways have heavy carpet and soft lighting. An army of help standing around. We see more Chinese tourists in the lobby than were in the previous hotels. We walk across the street to buy water and Coke, not wanting to pay hotel prices. Water is 1 Y and Coke 2.5. We skip going out to eat and prepare for an evening at the theater. At 1850 the bus takes us to a performance of the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe in a beautiful theater in the Shanghai Center. The streets are full of colored lights, there are lights blinking in the trees. The tall buildings are flooded with colored lighting. Now we see Shanghai traffic in full operation. As the bus turns left across traffic cars nevertheless dart around on the left in the lanes for opposing traffic. Even with the bus blocking traffic as it tries to turn cars are pushing ahead. The Shanghai Grand Theater is a huge complex set in a huge building between two modern hotels and all linked with escalators and courtyards. The buses enter on ramps to discharge passengers in an atrium inside the complex. The acrobatic performance is spectacular - a mix of high acrobats, knife thrower, jugglers, various scenes, clowns and acts. Then back to the hotel and sleep.


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