First Day in China

Trip Start Jun 13, 2011
Trip End Jun 30, 2011

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Where I stayed
Aroma Hotel
What I did
Dinner and site-seeing

Flag of China  , Shanghai,
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our flight landed in Shanghai at 1:35 pm.  Our luggage was some of the first off the plane which was great.  Sareen's Dad (Mr. Wong) and Sareen met us as soon as we exited the secured area.  He had beautiful bouquets of flowers for Debbie and I.  I will have to include a picture of these.  They had lillies and flowers dipped in paint and glitter.  Next, we loaded a small bus where we were handed bottles of water and cookies that tasted like shortbread.  The bus ride was a good half hour or so to the hotel.  We were surprised at all of the agriculture, greenhouses, and apartments/houses we passed.  There was also a lot of trash discarded in piles in various places and very few trees.  But, the roads were great, and the driving was amazing.  I will have to write an entire section about China driving rules.  

I will have to research the hotel's full name, but the sign said Aroma with a Hawaiin-looking flower below it in red.  The rooms were really big and nice.  Debbie and I got our own room.  The room had a large living room in addition to the bedroom and bathroom.  I could've stayed there a week.

We had less than an hour until we were meeting downstairs for dinner.  So, I showered and got dressed.  At 5:00, we all went down and loaded into a couple vehicles to be taken to Sareen's house for dinner.  Sareen's house was a short drive from the hotel.  It was the top couple floors of a high rise building.  It was full of marble and sweeping staircases.  The third floor had a beautiful patio on the roof with a small putting green, pretty flower beds, and a nice sitting area.  The view was nice, and I took several pictures.  Sareen played an amazing piano piece for us on their grand piano.  Then, we toasted with chapaigne (adults only) and frozen smoothies for the girls.  Dinner followed.  

I have the menu on a card...the items are too numerous to list.  Debbie and I were sitting on a balcony outside the living room, and they just kept bringing us food.  The food was very interesting and different.  I imagine the students found much of it out of their normal food preferences.  I realized starting with that meal that napkins, drink (such as water), and dessert are not normal parts of a meal.  And, of course, chopsticks are your only utensil unless you have a soup spoon (the kind we get at a Sushi restaurant).

Sareen's maternal grandparents were there too.  They live with her.  Sareen's mother is very gracious.  She started her own cosmetic company and is working as the CEO of it.  So, Sareen's father accompanied us all of our outings.

After dinner, he had two drivers drive us around Shanghai.  It was raining pretty hard.  So, he even bought umbrellas for everyone that didn't have one.  Our first stop was the Shanghai World Financial Center Observatory.  It was cold, dark, and pouring down rain.  So, we were some of the only people there.  We had a group tour and were taken up to the Skywalk which is the highest observatory in the world.  It is 474 m above the ground and spans 55 m.  It has a transparent glass floor.  Because it was raining and dark, it was hard to see a very far.  But, we did see clouds below us and a lot of neat building near the observatory.  

Next, we went to see the Bund.  The Bund is an area on the water near a lot Shanghai's financial buildings.  The view was pretty, but it was raining so hard that we only stayed a couple minutes.

Our drive around Shanghai lasted a couple hours.  In the car, everyone kept falling asleep.  I was sitting in the front passenger seat, and I could not stay awake.  Luckily, everyone else felt the same way.  We were happy to get back to our hotel around 10:00 or so,

Overall, it was a fun but exhausting day.  The students were all excited, and we had no difficulties because Sareen's family took care of everything. 
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