Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Creation of a Masterful Plan

As to traveling about in Shanghai I will honestly have to say I was there mostly on business. But I did have a few days off. With the days off I had to figure out what to do. Being that I really didn't want to do touristy things at all I tried to figure out how I could do something with myself that wasn't strictly shopping.

This is the thing. I like shopping but I was on a tight budget to go to Shanghai in the first place and could not spend more then seven hundred US on food and sundries during the eight day total stay. Now when you live in a place full time not spending that much is easy. But when you are traveling; having to stick to that kind of budget is a gigantic pain in the ass. It means sitting in the hotel hating life in a massive and interesting city. Being that I didn't want to do that either I did some research on-line at the hotel for things I might enjoy that were not strictly tourist.

I pulled up some winning sounding interesting ideas the top two being a local art and silver market and a road that advertised having sort of a junk shop feeling. Score! I also considered going to a bar for drinks that was highly recommended for sundown celebration (traditionally happy hour began as the sun started to slide down) but that would depend on the budget.

With addresses in mind I then moved to stage two. I needed a map. Being that I was trying to conserve I did not buy some gigantic guidebook. I know better. More often then not when traveling you can get free maps at information booths in the airport or the hotel. And sure enough as I was coming in from work on day one I was able to pick up two maps. Having now everything that I needed to do the work I needed to do I began with task three, finding the places I wanted to go on the map.

This proved more difficult because for the life of my I could not find my hotel on the map. In the end I stopped looking for the hotel and just looked for the two destinations I had in mind. After five minutes I began to realize that the reason I was having trouble with the map was because the map was exclusively in Chinese. Since I read no Chinese at all this was not helpful. I checked free map number two and was happy to discover it was in English. I continued to plot out the locations of where I wanted to go until finally I had managed to locate both places. This took about three hours as I had no frame of reference other than two cross streets for either location.

Now knowing where I am going is great, I still wasn't sure where I was starting. And there was point number four, food! In the really large Chinese cities it's pretty easy to go without eating anything even remotely Chinese. Since I live in South Korea and pine daily for a taste of the West, particularly Mexican and Greek food, I decided that my starting point for reaching either destination would be food.

To this end I was armed with a menu book. This was handed to me the first night upon arriving. Apparently there are several services in Shanghai that hire couriers for the express purpose of picking up food from restaurants and delivering. The restaurants decide which couriers companies they would like to work with, advertise in the menu books, and food can be ordered and delivered to most locations in forty-five minutes. Considering that without this service most places in Shanghai don't deliver this is actually pretty smart. However being that I was traveling anyway I thought it was kind of silly to sit in my room ordering food. So I would use the menu book as my stop one. The plan broke down as follows: take menu book into cab, point to address in menu book, get out, eat, walk to destination on map.

I figured that by doing all of this I could manage to avoid too much tourism, get to see a lot of stuff, get plenty of exercise, and get some great food to boot. I would not feel guilty about the eating with the walking. And walking is always a good time for me. As a game plan it felt masterful. I set out to the lobby and made a small pit stop. I handed the map to the hotel and asked if they could show me where they were on the map. I circled and noted this location then grabbed the map, menu book and headed out the door to execute my plan, beginning with Greek food!

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