This morning we pulled into Shanghai, China! It reminded me a lot of Boston with all the skyscrapers, but with a more contemporary feel. I absolutely love Boston, but as we were docking, I fell in love with the city.
After taking a bunch of pictures and getting ready, I headed to my second field lab for World Literature and Film. We picked up two University of Shanghai film students and headed to the Shanghai Film Studio with us. Since I'm not a big movie person and definitely don't know much about the process of making a film, I was pretty excited.
Once we got there, we saw a ton of old cars that they use when filming movies. We were able to talk to the film students who told us about how the Chinese government has a great deal of control over what people are able to view. All movies that are filmed in China have to be reviewed before being released and all movies that come from the US have to be edited before the public can view them. Movies aren't allowed to show pornography, protesting, foul language, and it had to be appropriate for all viewers. A great example is the movie Ted… If you have seen it, you know how inappropriate it is. All the scenes with sexual references, swearing, and unacceptable behavior (according to the Chinese government) has to be taken out… so basically nothing is left of the movie! I thought it was crazy that the government could have such control over the people of China.
As we walked around we ran into a new Chinese TV show, Red, being filmed. This was definitely a high light of the field lab. As tourists, we were all standing there taking tons of pictures and really excited to something being filmed... It was like being in Hollywood! As soon as the actors/actresses ended the scene, they came running over to us with their cell phones and started taking pictures of us! They LOVED all the girls with blonde hair and blue eyes. I got pulled into a couple of pictures, which was a pretty unique experience. Our tour guide Fun-Fun was telling us how for a lot of those people, seeing us was probably a once in a lifetime interaction with Americans. At that moment it really hit me how lucky I am. I am seeing more of the world that most people see in a lifetime and I'm only 21 (Almost!).
As cool as it was to see the film studio and have the interaction with the actors/actress, it was definitely a drawn out field lab. A lot of us were getting bored and not into the experience as much as our professor. Thankfully Fun-Fun, who was seriously the best tour guide, realized that and decided we should head back to the city of Shanghai and see the Old City.
The Old City is where a handful of the markets are and there were a ton of people. Before coming to China, I always heard how China is such a populated country and I was like "yeah, yeah, whatever… Boston is a populated city…" But seriously, when people say China is over populated, they are not kidding! There were points when we were walking as a group and I couldn't move anywhere because of the amount of people. It also didn't help that the Chinese New Year was at the end of the week, because a lot of people go back to their home cities to celebrate with their families. But because of the Chinese New Year, the whole area was decorated. Their New Years is like our Christmas. This is the year of the snake, so there were colorful snake decorations everywhere.
Before dinner we were able to go to this Tea House. I was suppose to do a tea ceremony in Japan that ended up getting canceled, so I was really glad this ended up being part of our field lab. Each tea has a different use and some of the tealeaves were really cool. There were two known as Romeo and Juliet. They were these gross looking dried of flowers, nothing very special about them. But once they were placed in hot water they bloomed into these two magnificent flowers.
After dinner we had finally met our 8-hour field lab requirement and headed back to the ship. As much fun as I had during this field lab, it was a long day and I was ready to get back to the ship. Especially since tonight was my birthday night!! I was so excited to go out and see the nightlife of Shanghai and celebrate my birthday was my friends.
One thing I wanted to do while in Shanghai for my 21st was go to Cloud 9, which is one of the world's highest bars. I wasn't able to take that many great pictures since it was dark out, but it was an amazing view! It was kind of more of an "adult bar" since it was on the top of a hotel, but even with that it was a totally great way to start my birthday!
After a free drink at Cloud 9, we headed to our favorite place… family mart. We sat there drinking, with probably 20 other people when three Chinese police officers walked in. I have to say, police officers in China look a lot different and are a lot more intimidating than in America. In Japan, there were no rules with drinking. You could walk around the streets with an open beer and it was totally legal. We all kind of freaked out, since obviously none of us wanted to get arrested! We ran over to the hotel across the street and asked them the rules about drinking in public, and they basically laughed at us… there were no rules about open containers. Definitely a weird thing to get use to!
Anyway, after that thrilling moment, we headed to Bar Rouge, which was in the French District, and where majority of SASholes were hanging out. It was more of a clubish scene with an amazing view over looking the harbor. Even though I haven't had many nights out yet, tonight was probably one of the best nights. Since I've been legal to drink since January, it wasn't the typical 21st birthday that people imagine, but non-the less I had a fantastic night. And it will be a birthday a never forget!