En Route Shanghai. But first… let me take a night in Manila

Mabuhay (Mah-boo-hi): it means “long live” in Tagalog. It’s a saying used in greetings, celebrations, departures. “Mabuhay and thank you for flying Philippine Airlines”.

Manila is a popular layover destination to Shanghai especially among other UCLA students since Philippine Airlines is generally cheaper. I have family in Manila so I opted for an overnight layover to stay in a hotel with my cousin. If you choose a layover in Manila and decide to explore the city, I find it pretty safe to do so in Makati City (downtown Manila) where there is excellent shopping and Filipino cuisine at the Glorietta mall or SM Mall of Asia (very close to airport). The people are genuinely friendly, funny, and extremely polite – always addressing you as “ma’am” or “sir”. Just make sure when you enter the taxi, agree on a reasonable price before driving, and check to make sure the driver has started the meter (this is a common tourist trap).

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Perhaps it is the cars, the vibrant greens, the humid air that just indicates “You’re not in California anymore.”

IMG_5754 Hotel patio in Makati City, Manila

IMG_5749 Breakfast selection at the F1 Hotel, Makati City

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Traditional Filipino breakfast: chicken longonisa (sausage-like), scrambled eggs, garlic rice, fruit, chilled mango juice. This really hit the spot before leaving for the next leg of travel on my way to Shanghai.

IMG_5772 Soaring over the Asian Pacific – en route Shanghai

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Although I was a bit nervous about navigating my way through the airport and to East China Normal University, I found it pretty simple to find the taxi line, hand the driver a print-out translation of the address and ride one hour to ECNU from Pudong airport. Word of caution: use the official airport taxi line. Do not accept a ride offer from anyone to approach you in the airport; you will get overcharged.

The “International Exchange Service Center” is the 15-story tall residence building for international students. In these halls, I have come across mostly American and French students.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Boys playing basketball at the court on campus

As soon as I put my bags down in the dorm room, my new roommate, Jingyi, and her friend, Philix invited me to join them and their other friends living in Shanghai to dinner at Hai Di Loao, an extremely popular hot pot restaurant – meaning you cook meat yourself in a single hot pot of broth at the middle of the table.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Global Harbor shopping center from the window seat

Believe it or not, this is actually a mall filled with everything from cheap and delicious eats to vintage shops to high-end luxury goods.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Since Hai Di Loao is so popular in Shanghai, the lines here can extend for hours. In order to keep business, the restaurant has waiting rooms (the size of a restaurant alone) with complimentary fresh fruit for snacking, free manicures/massages, and board games for playing with your party. We didn’t have to wait long, but I wish we could’ve gotten in a free manicure!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA After snacking on arguably the sweetest watermelon I have ever tasted, we were seated, and it was time to create sauces for dipping at this bar for the meat and vegetables. I whipped up a concoction of sweet sesame cream sauce with green onions, chili pepper, and crushed peanuts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Similar to Korean BBQ, they will bring you raw beef brisket for your table to cook in the broth. It’s a truly fun and interactive dining experience to gather around a hot pot with new friends, throw in delicious meats, mushrooms, and other vegetables, and fish out your cooked creation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Such lovely presentation

IMG_5795 Fishing out a piece of cooked meat from the broth

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Looking at and writing about those tasty floating mushrooms is making me so hungry right now.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChinese loose-leaf tea to finish off the feast – shortly before jet lag and a food coma hit me hard.

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