We are now in Korea after a whirlwind aim not sure how many days. The trip started with going to LA and spending almost 24 hours with Tristen and Lemac. We then had to catch our 14 hour flight to Shanghai on China Eastern at 1am. China Eastern is not an airline that contracts with the US on TSA Precheck so we did have a rather long line to check in, but still had 30 minutes to hangout at the lounge which was offering a serve your self bar of vodka, Johnny Walker Black, and a couple wines.
When your flight round trip to Korea costs $526 there is not a lot of room for complaining. We had read that the airline is normally late which we would agree on (50 minutes leaving Denver and 90+ leaving Shanghai). The long flight to Shanghai was in a 3/5/3 configuration except at the tail of the plane where there were a couple rows of 2/5/2 which made the aisles almost double wide and gave an extra 4+ inches between the window seat and bulkhead. We were able get book one of the 2s in the back of the plane which turned out to be very nice. The entertainment system had a lot of new programs and had a USB port for charging. It was the nicest/most comfortable coach seat I have flown on lately. The food was actually decent, the combos of sides didn’t always make sense. Katy had Chinese noodles with shrimp and potato salad as a side…. One odd note was that they didn’t take the seatbelt sign off the entire flight which just led to people ignoring it even when there was a bunch of turbulence.
We arrived in Shanghai both having gotten less sleep than we wanted and set out to make the best of our 12 hour layover. We got through security (where Katy got the first stamps in her new passport) and headed to the maglev train to take us into town. We were talking about how excited we were for a train that goes from downtown Denver to the airport in 45 minutes and we’re getting on a train that goes 300-430 km/hr (265+ mph) and takes less than 8 minutes.
We got downtown and transferred to the subway which was super easy because we bought a 24 hour subway card with a round trip maglev ride on it for $13 and did not need to mess with subway rickets. We then headed to the Tian Shin Tea factory which is a multistory mall that just sells tea with the goal of buying some tea. It was Saturday morning and a lot of places were closed but we walked around for a while and decided on a place to go in. We tasted a couple smoked teas and I decided on the one I wanted and got down to negotiating. He wanted $63 for 1.1lb which is less than half of what the tea would cost in the states, but we were able to get the tea for $80 for 2.2lbs which I was happy with even though I am sure we were ripped off. I had paid $26 for 1/2lb of tea that wasn’t as good plus shipping from my normal tea source. It overall was a fun experience and I am sure I overpaid but I also could not the tea cheaper at home or online.
After a detour to buy roasted chestnuts that thankfully had picture instructions on how to open them we headed back to the subway and walked around People’s Square which has a section of park with a lot umbrellas setup with a piece of paper in Chinese on top. We had no idea what it was until it clicked in my head that there were dates and distances in cm that these were parents advertising their children for relationships and Wikipedia agreed that we had stumbled into the Shanghai Marriage Market. We then stumbled out of the marriage market to a pedestrian only street that could very easily be compared to time square. It was on the border of the potion of Shanghai that was built during the early 1900s with a lot of European influences. We then left the main area and found a place to eat lunch.
After lunch we headed on a whim to the Yu Gardens and boy was that area different than how we started the day with a ton of tour groups and tourists in general. We walked through the gardens which consisted of a lot of buildings, rocks, and water. We were then getting tired and decided to make our way back to the airport via 2 subways and the maglev. We got into the club and Katy had a cup of noodles and some other snacks and beverages. We also discovered that in addition to never leaving on time China Eastern doesn’t change the estimated departure time. We both were exhausted at this point and slept for the entire flight except when they woke us up for dinner. We arrived downtown at Seoul Station (where our hotel was) around 1am and were ecstatic for a real bed 37 hours after we woke up in LA.