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PTR:David's EPIC Asia trip! TPR China +Japan, Korea, Taiwan!


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I'll buy it from you, Larry, for the 20 Yuan you paid for it! I think I still have Yuan left over!

 

I actually kind of wanted it for the kaleidoscope patterns! If I recall correctly, they could get it to change patterns by screwing the base or top a bit.

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Day 24, part 1: Shanghai credit whoring. Fisherman Warf.

 

After a lot of sightseeing (with a bonus credit) the previous day, it was time for some serious credit whoring. Over the next two days, we would visit TEN different parks, with a total of 18 potential coaster credits, although 4 of them were powered. And only one of those parks was really what you could call a major park, by any stretch of the term: Jin Jang, which we actually drove right by on the way to our first park. So, I’m going to go fairly quickly through these smaller parks, since they’re pretty similar.

 

One exception, however, is Fisherman Warf, which is particularly notable for its level of ghetto-ness. It’s also the furthest from downtown Shanghai of all of these parks, around 30 miles south. The park is literally a weird assortment of rides randomly scattered along the sand on a beach along the ocean. I mean literally right on the sand, with no concrete, no sidewalks or anything. Just walk along the sand over to rides built right on the sand!

 

But before we got to our first coaster, I quite needed to find a bathroom, and quickly discovered that this area was far enough away from the city that literally NO ONE spoke even a word of English. And I’d made the cardinal tourist newbie error of not learning how to ask where the bathroom in the native language! SO, every time I tried to ask anyone for a bathroom, even using some rather hilarious charades, they would send me over to where the rest of the group was, expecting that I was looking for the only other white people in the area! Unfortunately, there was no bathroom in that area. No amount of charades was getting y point across that I needed the bathroom, not the other white people. Believe me, I tried everything possible that was even remotely not disgusting, including holding my hands in front of my crotch and making a hissing sound – all to no avail! Eventually I had to resort to squatting, making grunting sounds AND using my fingers to mime something coming out of my butt before they laughed and finally got it and pointed the way! Talk about both ludicrous and embarrassing! But it was my own fault for not learning such a basic and essential phrase in the native language! It turned out that the nearest bathroom was actually across the street completely off the property, which is why I couldn’t find it on my own.

 

With that need eventually taken care of, I made my way back to the rest of my group that the locals had been trying to direct me to. They were riding Outer Space Flying Car, a cool name for a horrible coaster. Not that I’d know, since I didn’t ride it. It’s one of the only looping toboggan clones in the world. If you think the regular Chance Toboggan ride is uncomfortable, imagine a Chinese clone with a loop and over the shoulder harnesses to bang your head on! Apparently, it was so rough that they actually made everyone wear padded boxing/wrestling headgear! (Well, except for a couple of the ladies who refused.) Oh, that’s not a good sign! Especially with the screaming sounds coming from the TPR members who were riding! It’s probably one of the only times in my life that I didn’t feel bad when I didn’t fit on a coaster! Robb and I tried our best to push the restraint down on me and almost got it to click. But given how awful everyone said it was, we decided not to push the issue, and I sacrificed the credit. My head was thanking me for sparing it the pain! Luckily, this would be the last of my three coaster denials on the trip, and all of them were crappy coasters anyways!

 

From there, we went to the standard powered Sliding Dragon “coaster”. The most notable thing about the ride was that the workers used the fence around it for drying their laundry. Just call it the bra and panties coaster! There were various other rides and attractions on the sand along the beach including both the bumper boat pool and an inflatable pool along the beach which were used for selling goldfish. The last coaster was the Pine Forest Flying Mouse, a fairly typical jungle mouse, which actually has a much more spread out design than most mice we’re used to. At one point, they dispatched one car too soon, so that it reached the lift hill before the previous car had left the lift, causing the ride to e-stop. Luckily, the ride op used the typical Chinese modern and highly sophisticated method of getting the car to move – pushing it by hand! After all we’d seen, none of us really felt any need to stay here any longer!

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A cool building on the way to Fisherman Warf.

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Ooh, a big coaster that we're driving right by! Everyone on the bus perked up, but Robb and Elissa told us we'd be back later that day.

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We'll be back!

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Some building along the way.

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Some tourist shrine across the street form the park. The bathrooms turned out to be in this building!

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Oh, this doesn't look good!

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Can a park really get much more ghetto?

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Apparently so!

Maybe I'll skip the Frisbee knockoff!

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Jon's happy to have survived!

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Alfredo is in a state of denial of what is about to happen to him.

Divv is in the proper state of mind to survive what he's about to experience!

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Can you tell that they've just finished the ride?

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Clearly, they're in a state of shock!

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I love this picture almost as much as the closeup of Alfredo and Divv!

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If you listen carefully, you can almost hear the screams of pain from the picture!

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The bra and panties coaster!

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Is this like the brass ring on a few carousels? If you catch a pair of panties, do you get a free ride?

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It's almost over, guys!

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They sell goldfish everywhere in China!

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Even from the bumper boat pool! The fact that the fish haven't died lets you know that they don't use any cholorine int he water to keep the water clean, or the fish would be dead!

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Hmmm, where have I seen him before?

So, it's a Pine Forest Flying Coaster that road rallies?!?

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A nicely themed flat ride. Someone should help the turtle stuck on his back, though!

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Do you see something wrong with this picture?

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Yep, the two cars on the lift, caused an e-stop!

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Luckily, the park has modern, highly sophisticated methods of getting the ride running again!

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This is apparently ice cream with a wafer coating made to look like corn, oddly enough.

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China loves its mascots!

Edited by David H
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I loved that whoever was running this place, were literally living in what was their former dark ride building.

And the bra and panties coaster was right beside them, for true "outdoor living".

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Like I said, it's about 30 miles south of downtown Shanghai, right on the ocean. I only know this because I finally sat on RCDB and the linked Google maps tonight trying to figure out exactly where the 12 parks we visited in the area were, and to try to make sense of my pictures so that I'd know which were which.

 

If you want an exact location, go to RCDB, but plug in Fisherman Warf. That's how it's spelled there. I'm not sure if that misspelling is on the part of RCDB or the park itself in translating to English. I just went with what RCDB said. If you go to that page, there will be links to click for maps with the exact location.

 

Your head may not forgive you! But you'll get 2-3 credits, depending on whether or not you count powered coasters.

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Day 24, part 2: Shanghai credit whoring: Jin Jiang Action Park.

 

So, we headed back the way we came on the highways, back towards downtown Shanghai, and got back to Jin Jiang Action Park, which we’d seen on the way to Fisherman Warf. It’s probably not fair to count Jin Jiang as a credit whore park. Jin Jiang is probably the biggest park in Shainghai, besides Happy Valley, as well as being one of the oldest, dating back to 1985. The park has 5 coasters, including several large ones, and over 20 other rides. And the coasters are actually pretty decent, even if they’re mostly clones.

 

We headed straight to the Vekoma Giant Inverted Boomerang called Mountain Peak (although it had the GIB name on at least one sign.) Just when we thought Vekoma had given up on these coasters, with their failures almost everywhere they built one, they managed to sell one to Jin Jiang in 2011. It must have been a good investment for the park, because it had pretty much the only queue in the park with people in it! And much to our surprise, it was actually really good! Many of us even managed to get a rollback on it – but it wasn’t the typical coaster rollback, where it fell back, then got stuck. It slowly lowered back, then sat there for a bit, leaving all of the Chinese screaming in fear, but all the TPR people laughing,. After a couple of minutes, the second spike lift chain kicked in, and we were back in action. All of us were shocked at how good the ride was. I’ve always said that I enjoy the ride’s design. When they run well, they’re a lot of fun and quite intense. The problem is that they tear themselves to crap so fast, and end up rough as hell. Maybe Vekoma has gotten better construction standards on these since then? Or maybe it was just too new to suck? (That last one seems more likely!)

 

From there, we mostly split up. Many of us headed for the oldest coaster in the park, the Meisho/Senyo shuttle loop called “Roller Coaster”. Unfortunately, it was down. We heard that it would be open at a certain time, so we’d come back. From there, I headed for the relocated indoor Zamperla Karst Cave Coaster, which was quite fun, although it was powered, so I didn’t count it. (That put me at 1 for 3 credits so far!) But it had some decent dinosaur theming.

 

Next I headed to Joy Land, which is mostly a knockoff of Disney’s Small World. But instead of kids from all over the world, the animatronics were fairy tales from all over the world, a touch that I think most of us missed. This was quite a long ride, too, and I thought it was well done. You know you’re getting old when you actually enjoy Small World and its clones and knockoffs! 15-year old-me who always tried to get out of riding the boring Small World would be very disappointed at current me! (He’d probably be impressed with my count of over 1000 coasters, though!) Somehow, I managed to get nearly 100 pictures of the ride, but virtually none of the coasters. Then again, it was hard to get pictures of the coasters, since there was hardly anyone there riding them, besides us!

 

We hopped a quick ride on yet another Golden Horse Spinning Mouse. Then stopped in on the cheesy Horror House dark ride.

 

But we ran into a problem when we tried to ride the Zamperla Moto Coaster. It just so happened that I was with two of the bigger guys on the trip, and the ride ops decided we were too fat to ride. Never mind the fact that all of us had ridden several Zamperla Moto Coasters each and had never had any trouble fitting. Of course, since they spoke no English at all, and we spoke maybe 10 words of Chinese between us, this caused some trouble. They insisted we were too fat, pointing at their bellies and our and making big pregnant belly gestures with their hands. I have no problem not riding a ride if I don’t fit, but we KNEW we fit. But there was no way to explain this to them, and they did not want to even let us try. After a short while, a small handful of Chinese people came up to the station to ride. The ride ops looked like they wanted us to get out of the way, but we didn’t. Eventually, they relented, and let us – and JUST us try to sit in the coaster. They left the Chinese people sitting in the queue for some reason! Well, they were quite surprised when we all fit. And they sent the coaster off, with the train 3/4 empty and the Chinese people still standing in the queue! But, hey, we got our credit!

 

Luckily, Roller Coaster was about to start running when all of us converged on it. We got our ride on it. It was decent, but nothing special. Then some of us tried to grab some food and pictures before we headed out.

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Yay! It's Gay Day at Jin Jiang!

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It's Chinese Deja Vu.

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Chinese Deja Vu doesn't actually suck!

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It's really good! Even with a valley!

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Roller Coaster is kind of hidden behind other rides.

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That's the kind of coaster placement I used to do in RCT!

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It's not a Frisbee; it's a Crazy Flywheel!

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Plants vs Zombies stuff is EVERYWHERE in China. I'm sure it's totally officially licensed, too!

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Sorry, kids. Roller Coaster is closed for now! Come back later.

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Theming.

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The restaurant is themed like a restaurant! Or a delicaterlgale, at least.

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I case you didn't know there's a coaster inside. That somehow came outside and crashed.

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Neon.

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And dinosaurs. Which should always go together!

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Jin Jiang is very proud of Joy Land. You can read every little detail about it here on this sign.

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Wait, I see something familiar. (Well, besides all the Disney characters!)

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OK, this was the gay monkey we saw a couple of days ago at a ride at the little park in Wuhan. Since these are all well known fairy tales, and since we've now seen him twice, I'm assuming that Chinese people would know this character. Does anyone here know who he is? I'm curious now!

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I like the helicopter as a control booth. It has nothing to do with the ride, mind you., but it's cool anyways!

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Lots of fairy tales, most of which I can't identify, will follow.

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Wait, this one looks a little familiar.

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I've definitely seen this guy somewhere before!

To be fair, Pinnochio was a character from literature before Disney. But then again, the book version didn't look anything like this Disney-esque one.

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A happy ending with all the fables!

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Gee, a Golden Horse spinning mouse! I've never been on one of those before!

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That's a pretty cool carousel.

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They even have one of those pointless slow round boat rides!

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Do the statues count as culture?

Another park right in the city, with buildings (and the highway we were on earlier) close on every side.

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Yeah, this looks like a really modern, high tech dark ride!

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See! SCARY!

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Keith approves!

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With hardly anyone at the park, I didn't have time to sit around waiting for them to run the Moto Coaster for a picture. And by the time I got back here, most of TPR had already ridden. You've all seen one. There will be more on the trip!

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It's almost time!

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Yay! Last credit at the park is running!

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Neil approves!

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Great Photo TR David! My Chinese teacher showed us an cartoon with the monkey in it a few classes back. Its a kid's story about a monkey with a magical stick. Basically, the stick was powerful and gave the monkey power. Its kind of a lame story. But, since its old, I guess, it sort of counts as part of the Chinese Culture.

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If anyone is considering going to China and riding one of the two Meisho Shuttle Loops, I can whole heartedly recommend it to be this one and i'm sure everyone else would agree on that count! - I can't think of anyone who panicked at least a little on the other one at Shijingshan.

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Day 24, part 3: Shanghai credit whoring: Chang Feng Park, Zhongshan Park, and Shanghai Zoological Gardens.

 

With the bigger parks out of the way, it was now time for some real credit whoring. For 7 of the next 8 amusement parks, we’d be back to walking through big city parks to find a small amusement park in the back with one roller coaster each. I’ll be going through these parks pretty quickly, just as we did on the trip, mainly because none of them were terribly memorable. We spent less than an hour at each park, including the often long treks through the park to find the amusement rides.

 

First up was Chang Feng Park which had yet another Sliding Dragon coaster, with the typical layout. One nice thing about this model was that it had a tire-driven lift hill, instead of being powered throughout the ride, so it counted as a true coaster credit for those of us who care about such things!

 

Next up was Shanghai’s Zhongshan Park, with its Big Worm Inertia Train, a Wacky Worm.

 

From there, we headed to the Shanghai Zoological Park, with its Sliding Dragon. Out tour guide was trying to explain to Robb and Elissa that we would need at least 2-3 hours there to see the place, since it’s a large zoo, with a small amusement area. Robb and Elissa kept trying to explain to him that we didn’t want to see the whole zoo and would not need long there at all. But we knew that the rides area closed early (within the hour), and they wanted to make sure that the coaster was still open and that they would keep it open long enough for us to get there before paying full zoo admission for over three dozen people! Since they couldn’t get the park to call over to the rides, they sent the tour guide into the park to go over to the ride and scope out the situation and report back to Robb by phone. After a while with no word, time was running out, and Robb decided to just go find the coaster himself. Soon, he called Elissa to report that he’d found the coaster and it was running. And there was still no sign of or word from our tour guide, who had apparently gotten lost in the zoo! We all ran over to the coaster to ride before it closed! I tried to get at least a few pictures of the animals we passed, since we were in a zoo, after all. Besides, we’d heard that it was a powered coaster, which I don’t count, so I didn’t care if I missed it. In fact, I planned to let the others ride before me, in case they closed it down, so that those who count powered coaster could get the credit. The good news is that at some time in the past few years, they replaced the old powered model (there are pictures on RCDB, so there definitely was a powered dragon coaster there) with a tire driven dragon! Yea, I could get a credit for our troubles! Soon, the tour guide showed up, surprised that these crazy foreigners were in the park, had found the coaster, and were riding it, while he’d been lost! On the way out, I again tried to see and take pictures of some of the animals. At least most of the ones I saw weren’t in tiny, dirty, inhumane enclosures, like at some Asian zoos. And we paid for zoo admission, so we might as well see some of it!

 

From there, we had dinner and went back to the hotel. Many of us went out sightseeing, which is the next update.

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More mascots.

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Chang Feng Park

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Yea! No power rails! It's a Sliding Dragon that's an actual coaster credit!

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How many different pictures have I posted so far that look more or less exactly like this one?

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The Chinese also love their kangaroo rides!

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Off to Shanghai's Zhongshan Park.

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Very woodsy.

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Pretty!

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That's what we're looking for!

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Or should we ride the kiddie swings instead?

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Some day I'll have to try to figure out how many Wacky Worms I've ridden.

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Josh shows he's just as limber as the locals!

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Standing outside the Shanghai Zoological Gardens.

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So word from the tour guide!

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Pretty flowers in the zoo.

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Birds!

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And monkeys!

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And a coaster! Just what you expect to find in a zoo!

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But they replaced their powered Sliding Dragon with a tire-driven one, so it counts as an unexpected coaster credit for me!

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More monkeys. on out way out.

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I really want to know if the monkeys ever run in those wheels, like hamsters do.

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An odd statue for a zoo.

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Some horses on the road.

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We've now passed this building several times. Does anyone know what it is? Just curious.

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Day 24, part 4: Shanghai Sightseeing: the Bottle Opener.

 

After we got back to the hotel, a lot of us headed out for some sightseeing. A group of us headed over towards Nanjing Road, where the most convenient subway stop to our hotel was. We walked around that tourist shopping street for a bit before heading back across the river to visit the Shanghai World Financial Center, aka the Bottle Opener. There are lots of stories going around as to why the top of the building has that big hole in it, but it was originally supposed to be a circle. But the locals complained that it would have looked like the Japanese flag, and there is a LOT of hatred between Japan and China. In fact, while we were there, there was a major political situation developing between the two countries involving some small uninhabited islands that both countries were claiming. Our tour guide and bus driver had to watch the local situation, because the government had organized several protests against Japan that could have potentially caused major traffic snarls that we might have gotten caught up in. In any case, since the circle was a no go, they went with a trapezoid shape, which actually helped the structural integrity of the building.

 

But of course, we were there to go up a tall building and take cool pictures! Before you go up in the elevator, they have this model display of downtown Shanghai, with fake fireworks behind it. When we got up to the observation deck, we ran into nearly half of the TPR tour group there, in various smaller groups that had all had the same idea. (Not surprising, since the Bottle Opener is now one of Shanghai’s biggest tourist attractions!) We took lots of pictures, of course. They had a glass floor, but because of the design of the building, with the observatory in the floor above the “hole” in the bottle opener, you mainly saw the rest of the building below you, which wasn’t quite as effective. But it was still a very tall building, with a great view of the city. And unlike with the Oriental Pearl Tower, we would get this view at night, with all of the city’s many lights on. It was funny to look DOWN at the very tall Oriental Pearl Tower from our view above it! I normally don’t buy the touristy photos, since they’re overpriced, and I can take my own. But my camera sucks at night shots, and the view really was spectacular. So what the heck. Before we left, we stopped in to the bathroom. We had been warned not to miss it, since the urinals in the men’s room have windows behind them with a spectacular view. It definitively had the best view I’ve ever had while peeing!

 

Afterwards, we wandered around that side of the river for a while. We were actually trying to find the Sex Museum that I had seen in my Frommer’s guide. We were curious to see what the Chinese would put in such a museum and what they’d find interesting. And what they could get away with, given their repressive government. Not much apparently, since we couldn’t find it, and I found out that night when I went searching for info on the web that it was because the museum had closed since the guide book had been printed! Oops! On a side note, there was recently a sex themed theme park being built in China, but the government shut it down this year before it was even finished being built – after millions of Yuan had been spent building it!

 

We headed back to the subway and when we got to Nanjing Road, we split up, because two of us wanted to get a bite to eat. We settled on Pizza Hut. It was probably our third or fourth Pizza Hut meal of the trip. Sometimes it’s nice to just get some comfort food from home! Since they were soon closing, we got the pizza to go.

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Glow beads, glow!

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The Shanghai World Financial Center (Bottle Opener), the Jin Mao Tower, and the Shanghai Tower (under construction.)

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I love the look of Nanjing Road!

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A sneak preview of a couple of days later: advertising for Happy Valley on the street.

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Do I even want to know what kewpie mayonnaise is?!?

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Back near the anal bead tower.

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Down on the ground, but not for long.

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Playing with the model of the city.

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I loved the view up here!

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The glass floor doesn't have quite the same effect, with the rest of the building a few stories below you.

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Look who we ran into!

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One of my favorite photos I took on the whole trip.

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These are the pictures we bought.

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I'd sya they were worth it!

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Urinals with a view!

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Sexy massagee anyone?

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Some temple we ran into while wandering around looking for the sex museum!

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Some important building! ;-)

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By the way, for those who were on the Shanghai part of the tour, I found two corrections to the list of coasters that Larry posted last year. (Note that this is NOT criticism! There were TONS of coasters on that trip, and no one else even came close to getting them all! I couldn't have even identified many of the coasters in this PTR -- especially the ones in these credit whoring days -- without Larry's list!)

 

-- Sliding Dragon at Chang Feng Park is NOT powered, as I noted in the TR above. This will only affect those of us who don't count powered coasters.

 

-- Sliding Dragon at Shanghai Zoological Gardens -- which is also not powered -- was not listed.

 

So if, like me, you relied only on Larry's list to add these coasters to your own personal list, you might have just picked up a credit or two that you didn't remember! Woo hoo! Update your lists accordingly.

 

On the down side, if in the year since then you've had a landmark coaster (500th, etc), then it probably isn't the one you thought it was. My only landmark since then was a big one -- my 1000th -- but I didn't even know which one it was until after the trip, because I lost count of all the little CreHo park coasters on the trip, until Larry posted the list after I got back. Plus, I hadn't decided how I was going to count some of the more iffy potential credits, like the water coasters, the alpine coaster and others. With my decision not to count the alpine coaster at the Great Wall, this makes Bullfight Matador Coaster my 1000th. What a crappy coaster to celebrate with! Oh well.

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Day 25, part 1: More Shanghai credit whoring: Gongqing Forest Park, Peace Park at Heping Park.

 

We started our next day of credit whoring at a more medium sized park called Gonquing Forest Park, which was just 7 miles northeast of downtown Shanghai and was the furthest of the 5 parks we’d be hitting up this day. We started at Inertia Roller Coaster, the park’s Jungle Mouse. Then we headed to what would be the biggest coaster of the day, Loop and Spiral Coaster, a fairly typical loopscrew by a local coaster company named Sameco. We discovered that the park had a BobKart ride, which they called Electric Rolling Track, which some of the more whorish on the trip counted as a coaster credit. I guess if you count powered coasters, you might as well count this, too, right? It was a decent ride and some people’s first BobKart ride. Finally, we rode the park’s Wacky Worm coaster named Golden Dragon Roller Coaster.

 

Next we went to Peace Park at Heping Park. At least that’s what the tour guide said it was called. RCDB lists it as just Heping Park. We found our way to the Outer Space Flying Car, another tire driven dragon-type coaster. Then some of us rode the really ghetto, falling apart haunted dark ride. Big Mike managed to find and ride an outdoor shooting dark ride type of ride, but I didn’t think I’d have time for it. And you NEVER want to be late on a TPR tour! Mike said we didn’t miss much, mainly just shooting at fake animals on an outdoor track.

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Ready for lots of CreHoing, everyone?

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They seem to be!

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Nice park scenery in between credits.

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A pretty standard loopscrew. I don't remember this one being TOO painful.

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Electric roller track. That's close enough to a credit for some people!

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I love BobKarts, but don't count them!

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So, why is this called Gongqing FOREST again?

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I bet you've never seen one of these before!

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It's a wacky dragon, not a wacky worm.

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Kids on a school field trip, I guess. I loved the cute uniforms.

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On to Peace Park or Heping Park. Or whatever.

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Some nice lotus.

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We've found either the amusement area or the jousting area. Fun either way!

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Yay, it's not powered!

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Look what Big Mike found! Does it count as a dark ride if it's not even remotely dark?

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Ready for Ghetto Haunted House?

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SCARY!

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I like the plugs. Although, to be fair, you probably can't see them as obviously without the camera's flash.

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I'm terrified! That the thing's going to fall apart and scratch me and give me tetanus!

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Day 25, part 2: More Shanghai credit whoring: Luxun Park, People’s Park and Century Park

 

Then it was on to Luxan park, which was very close to Peace/Heping Park. The park was also hosting the Shanghai International Lantern Festival, which meant that there were all sorts of near artistic displays all over the park. I’m assuming that this was part of the big city-wide tourist weeks of promotions that had started while we were in the city. At least this gave us lots of cool displays to look at while we walked through the park. The highlight of the festival was a long, sprawling 201 meter Oriental Porcelain Giant Dragon hand made from around 100,000 pieces of porcelain, which supposedly “challenges the Guiness Book of World Records.” We got more of a kick out of the Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs ripoff display. We rode the powered Gliding Dragon, then headed on.

 

Next up was Shanghai’s People’s Park. China is home to at least 25 amusement parks called People’s Park and another 5 with that name, plus the name of the city area. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that a Communist country would name parks People’s Park, since all parks there are theoretically the people’s parks! We found the park’s powered Gliding Dragon and gave it a quick ride. From there, Robb and Elissa gave us some time to explore the big mall across the street. This would give us time to have lunch and take a break from credit whoring. We ended up eating at what I believe was a Papa John’s, which had exactly the same menu as the Pizza Hut’s we’d been to in China. The food seemed the same too. Chinese knockoff pizza? There was also a Hershey store in the mall that had a whole bunch of different familiar candies (like big Reese’s cups!) on clearance really cheap. I bought a BUNCH to keep me happy for the rest of the trip, as well as a really good piece of cake for dessert!

 

Once we got back together, we headed to Century Park. On the way through the park, we saw a couple taking wedding pictures. We found the park’s Rotating Pully spinning mouse coaster, but it wasn’t long before one of the cars got stuck on the track. The ride ops used the usual Chinese high-tech methods to get the car going. But this time, it took both someone physically pushing it and another operator pushing it with a stick to get it to move!

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Crossing the street can be dangerous in China! Like how that car is driving ACROSS the crosswalk -- in front of a police car? Then again, our bus was stopped in a crosswalk.

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Luxun Park is all ready for the Shanghai International Lantern Festival.

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RCDB and Google Maps spell the park Lu Xun Park. But two signs in the park itself use Luxun as one word. I guess I'll go with the signs in the park, although that rarely means much in China!

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This sign claims that Luxan Park was named after writer Lu Xun, who is buried here.

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Many Chinese parks have workout equipment to help keep the citizens in shape.

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The back of the really long porcelain dragon.

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The porcelain dragon's head, way down the park.

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This looks familiar!

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The powered Sliding Dragon "coaster", NOT made of porcelain.

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Some very happy bumper cars.

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Onwards, to People's Park.

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Another powered Sliding Dragon.

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The Chinese obviously value their privacy. That's why they build their urinal troughs right by the entrance to the public bathroom!

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The mall.

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Yummy cake!

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Onwards to Century Park.

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I was waiting for one of the many wedding couples taking pictures that we ran into to ask us to join them in their pictures!

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Yay! It's a real credit!

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TPR broke another Chinese coaster!

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The usual pushing alone wouldn't do the trick.

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Time to get the handy stick!

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All fixed! Now the rest of us can get our credits!

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Day 25, part 3: More Shanghai sightseeing: Tea ceremony, Bund, Korean fun house, Nanjing Road.

 

After we got all of our credits in, we went to a Chinese tea ceremony, which was supposed to show us how the Chinese drink their various kinds of teas, but was basically an excuse to try to get us to buy lots of tea and accessories. Of course, the ceremony ended with a nice long wait in the showroom, with aggressive sellers everywhere. I guess we couldn’t complain, because we’d managed to go 10 days in a row without any of these showroom tours. And it was mildly interesting for those of us who hadn’t already done the tea ceremony on the pre-tour add-on day.

 

After dinner, four of us decided to head back out for some sightseeing. We had heard there was a cool Bund Tourist Train that runs under the main river in Shanghai. The whole site is a total tourist trap, but it was actually a lot of silly fun. We took this train that goes under the river. But it was more like these little pods on a track. And they had all sorts of lighting and dolls and displays in the tunnel to make it seem really cool and interesting. On the other side of the river was this total tourist trap complex with a bunch of different sections. We bought the whole deal. They had a small aquarium that was supposed to have all sorts of very rare fish – most of which I’ve seen in pet stores in the US. Maybe they were rare in China, but I doubt it. They also had this weird arctic exhibit with fake penguins and polar bears and the like. We had the most fun at the Korean Fun House. (Yes, a Korean Fun House is apparently a touristy thing in China!) Basically, they had all sorts of displays and optical illusions, and you posed with them and took pictures. It was totally goofy fun, but we actually had a blast and took a ton of pictures.

 

We took the weird pod train back across the river, then walked along the Bund for a while. The Bund is the whole area along the river on the main downtown side of the river. There are all sorts of really nice buildings and stores and cafes along the river to take pictures of. And it’s a great place to get pictures of Shanghai’s skyline.

 

After a while, it was getting late, and the other guys decided to head back to the hotel. Since it was our last night in Shanghai, I decided to walk around Nanjing Road some more and just people watch and take in the city. I ran into a group of mostly older women doing this cool line dance on the street for exercise. This was something we’d seen a bunch of time while walking through the parks towards the coasters. I’d wanted to jump in, but we were rushing through the parks. Of course, now I had time to join in! I really wish I’d gotten someone to take my picture, since I impressed the ladies by picking up the moves pretty quickly. While walking up and down Nanjing Road, I ended up chatting with various people from around the world. This younger Russian guy warned me not to pick up any of the “massage” ladies, since two different guys in his hostel had been robbed of a lot of money. I assured him not to worry!

 

And now for a way off-topic anecdote. I'm including it because it shows some of the interesting situations that can come up when traveling and talking with people from around the world. Feel free to skip ahead to the pictures, if you'd like.

 

I ended up talking to these two guys from Dubai, maybe in their late 20’s. We actually ended up talking for quite a while, and having some really interesting conversations about our different cultures, religions and the way people treat each other. They were surprised to find an American – especially a Jewish American – who didn’t just assume that they were terrorists because they were Arabs or Muslim. I told them that I thought that there are good and bad people in any group of people, and we should all be judged by our own actions. At some point one of the street vendors tried to sell us a laser pointer. I was actually interested in buying one, if I could get it for the 20 Yuan that Larry had managed to finagle the other day. But this woman was not only not having it, but she called me a liar when I said that a friend had gotten it for 20 Yuan. She insisted it was 150 Yuan (which was 30 more than anyone else we’d seen selling them for!) And when I said I would only pay the 20 Larry had paid, she started calling me stupid and a liar again and again, while following us and trying to talk my new friends from Dubai into buying one. The guys were egging her on by asking about the pointers, even though they didn’t actually want one. I suggested that perhaps insulting people isn’t the best sales technique, and she eventually took the hint and left!

 

We walked around for quite a while, and eventually even found ourselves outside the mall we’d been at earlier in the day, which turned out to be quite close to my hotel. While we were walking, we talked about how Muslims considered alcohol to be evil because it makes men do evil things. I insisted that alcohol can’t really make anyone do anything they didn’t really want to do somewhere deep down inside and that perhaps men should take responsibility for their own actions. It was an interesting duality to their attitudes, because they were actually heading out to some famous bar and club to no doubt get hammered and maybe do things they didn’t want to take responsibility for. They were actually trying to get me to go to the bar with them. I admit that I was tempted, but since I had to be up early for our filming sessions at Happy Valley the next day, I couldn’t stay out THAT late. The guys then asked me if I was married, and when I said no, they kept asking why. I tried to avoid the question, but they kept insisting. Eventually I told them it was because I‘m gay. (Although I guess in Massachusetts, that’s not a valid excuse any more!) I was on a busy main street, so I wasn’t too worried about my safety, but I was also ready for fight or flight if necessary. But they were totally cool with it, and actually still insisted that I come out to the bar with them. I started to get the feeling that the suspicions I’d had earlier about their wanting to use alcohol as an excuse to maybe do some things that their religion wouldn’t let them do otherwise were more right on the money than I’d originally thought. And I have to admit that one of the guys was super hot. But somehow, as hot as the idea may seem in a fantasy, the reality of going off with two Arab guys in an unfamiliar Communist country to get drunk and lose control seemed like a really bad idea. My honest instincts – which are usually really good – told me that they didn’t actually mean me any harm. That they would either just have some drinks with me, or maybe get a little frisky. But even if that was true, who knows what would happen afterwards, when the liquor wore off and the religious guilt set in. And as much as I try to be liberal and fair, the truth is that these were two Arab men, and I’m one gay Jewish American who’s too smart to take that risk, especially not in a strange country that hasn’t even heard of LGBT rights (since the government blocks any mentions of it on the internet.) In the end, I explained that I had to get up really early and really couldn’t stay out any longer, and took my leave of them. But I’ll admit that I walked away wondering what might have been – for good or for bad.

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Th tea ceremony. The best part of these pictures is the looks on everyone's faces -- particularly Elissa's and Robb's and others who already sat through one of these earlier on the trip -- as they try to be polite and feign interest!

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You can tell from Andrew's enthusiasm that this was his first tea ceremony.

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By now, everyone's almost given up on even pretending to be interested. Elissa almost managed to look interested. Can we go now? Nope, you have to stay in the showroom for over 20 minutes!

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Some of us headed back to the Huangpu river.

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Culture!

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Time to hit the tourist trap!

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This was our train pod under the river.

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Oooh lights!

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The sharks confined to a small tank were about as exotic as the aquarium got.

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I take pictures with all sorts of things with burger in the name, since my last name is hamburger.

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Time for the Korean fun house! Josh trained long and hard for this!

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Gee, how did they ever do that?

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Kong wants Hamburger for dinner.

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Aaaahh!

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Naughty Josh!

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This was their amazing Arctic display! It's a good thing it was pretty cheap in combo with the rest!

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Playing games with the ice.

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The view from this side of the river. (You can really never have enough of the anal bead tower!)

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Back to the train pod thingy under the river.

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And the view from the Bund.

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The Shanghai People Yingxiong Memorial Tower, along the river.

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We ran into a photo shoot. You gotta admit, this is a cool picture!

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It's hard to get a good picture with a mediocre camera with such a bright background at night.

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See!

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The bund. And our hotel on the left.

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I promise that this is the last time I'll show you this gorgeous skyline! No more anal bead tower.

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Back to the Bund.

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Technically, that building with the flower on top was actually the Bund Center, which the Westin was attached to (which also hosted the South African consulate.)

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Yes, I joined in!

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Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of me dancing with them, which I quickly regretted.

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Tasty perfume!

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Back to Nanjing Road!

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By the way, for those looking for more big parks and less little crappy parks and less sightseeing, we're heading into the part of the China trip that's mostly bigger parks with bigger coasters. I did quite a bit of sightseeing in Shanghai -- partially because we were there for three nights and right near Nanjing Road, and partially because I liked the place quite a bit. I didn't really do any major sightseeing again on the trip until Hong Kong. So hang in there!

 

I did want to document these smaller parks somewhat, since few enthusiasts have, and since I'll honestly probably never go back to them.

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It's a good thing we're not in China right now, particularly in northeast cities like Harbin. Apparently, the smog there right now is some of the worst ever recorded -- more than triple the levels that are considered hazardous! Much of the city is shut down right now, including the airport, many schools and even some bus lines! Who's ever heard of a city shut down due to smog?!?

 

The pictures and video in all of the news reports are horrifying!

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It's a good thing we're not in China right now, particularly in northeast cities like Harbin. Apparently, the smog there right now is some of the worst ever recorded -- more than triple the levels that are considered hazardous! Much of the city is shut down right now, including the airport, many schools and even some bus lines! Who's ever heard of a city shut down due to smog?!?

 

The pictures and video in all of the news reports are horrifying!

They are horrifying. This happens in Shanghai too during the peak winter months. The air can be absolutely terrible sometimes.

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I thought that last "tea ceremony" we went through was very (quietly) funny.

It being all guys - and Elissa. I thought one of the men was going to fall over, tired from

the day that we'd just done, heh. It was amusing to watch everybody.

 

And seeing Robb on his cell phone while our "tea guide" goes on and on and on...

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^ I took a bunch of pictures for over a half hour of the ceremony, trying to get a couple of good ones. The looks on Robb's and Elissa's faces were pretty constant, and very entertaining!

 

I forget why there were so few of us -- and none of the women, other than Elissa -- in the room with us for the tea ceremony. Had they split us into groups? Or did half the group go back to the hotel early?

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^ I have been racking my brain to figure that out, too! I know that all of

the women in the tour, except Elissa, went to "tour something else" and

it became a Man's Tea Night, grrrrarrrrrr. Anyway.... Totally forget how

this came to be.

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