I got one of the best facebook messages ever a few weeks ago. It was from Ian, an old high school friend, saying that he was going to have an extended layover in Shanghai the following week. Not only was I was going to be able to see Ian, but Tommy was also on that same flight! I was definitely beyond stoked at the thought of seeing some American friends and was quickly trying to think of what “sickness” I would have when I called into work the next week.
A few days later, I got to see these lovely boys! And meet sweet Cayla, who was also in the pack. All three of these lucky bitches were moving to Australia for a few months to make wine. I was happy to be a stop on their route.
After work, I met up with my long lost friends and went out to have a few drinks.
The next day, (unfortunately their last day in town), everyone came over to my place before deciding what we would do. The night before I was wracking my brain with things to do. If you’re only in a city for 72 hours, you have time for the highlights and nothing else. When I was at work, they already hit up the bund, which is the obvious Shanghai landmark you have to see. Luckily, I didn’t have to think too hard about being a tour guide because they all suggested going to the zoo when they got to my place. I had yet to go there, and it was on my list of things to do before leaving the city, so it was a quick decision. I don’t really recommend zoos, but obviously if a Panda is involved….it’s worth the trip.
I was quickly reminded how much I love these two dudes on our metro ride to the zoo.
By the time everyone got moving, the hangovers lessened, and we got lunch at my favorite dumpling spot, it was well into the late afternoon by the time we got to the zoo. I was a little scared that it would be closed by the time we got there and that the trip would have been a waste for these visitors. When we got to the ticket counter though, I asked what time they closed and we had until 7 to explore the park. That gave us about 3 hours in the park, so we were happy to take our time and be able to see everything at leisure.
The first building housed some sea creatures. The first tank was one of the weirdest sights I’ve seen. There were a ton of these fish in the tank, but nobody was moving. It was like they were just hanging in thin air. They obviously weren’t dead or else they would have been upside down, but it seemed like they were moments away from that position. I was really concerned and not really looking forward to the state of the remaining exhibits.
Luckily when we turned the corner, we saw this guy and my spirits were quickly lifted.
This dude was one of my favorites of the day. He was more of an ocean dinosaur than a sea turtle. He was super playful and really aware of you being there. He was basically my new BFF, but I had to keep moving because the pandas were calling my name.
We saw snakes next. A typical exhibit I would have quickly passed, but because we had the time, we took it and watched all the creepy crawlers slither in their cases.
Moments after we walked out of the building, an employee immediately locked the doors behind us. We were confused because we still had a few hours before 7, but then saw that the next building was locked as well. We were pissed that the ticket counter lady lied to us, and that we had wasted our precious minutes on effing snakes of all things, and quickly rushed to the zoo map to see where the pandas were.
The zoo functions in a large loop, so there was no short cut to the pandas. We passed a huge island of birds, and saw the largest pink pelican ever. We didn’t have time to stop for pictures because we thought we were about to be kicked out.
Still walking forward, but looking over our shoulders for the impending security guards, we finally saw one of the pandas (although not the one we came to see).
The red panda seriously couldn’t be bothered with us. He was too busy hoarding as much bamboo into his mouth as possible in the shortest amount of time. I guess he was just trying to bulk up to be more like this guy..
Homie was straight passed out on the slide. Go home panda…you’re drunk. I’m just going to state for the record…pandas have the cutest butts of probably all creatures. I’m prettty sure it’s a fact.
At this point, we still hadn’t been kicked out but it was getting dark, so we kept walking the loop to see what other animals were in store.
Baloo was chillin in his tree ready for hibernation.
And then we saw the cutest thing in the entire world.
Baby Caracals huddled in a bundle of goodness.
The only time zebra print is acceptable is when it’s actually on a ZEBRA. They really are the strangest, coolest looking creatures. I mean, look at their mane. God sure was creative with this one.
By the time we made it to the elephants, they were already locked in their cages for the night, so we were just stuck with this crazy one.
All but one kangaroo were already sleeping, but Cayla was able to get a little pouch snuggle in before we left.
Although it would have been nice for the zoo to actually have been open when we were there, we ended up having a really cool…pretty weird….Shanghai zoo experience. Apparently the front gates to the zoo close at 7, so you can still walk around the grounds, but the rest of the zoo closes around 4:30. (5 minutes after we got there). Because it was so late, we literally had the entire place to ourselves. Never in a million years can you be anywhere in China alone. I almost felt bad not showing my visitors the “real” Shanghai (where they’re pushed and shoved and crammed into small public spaces), but it was definitely an awesome day (despite being scared shitless by some wild cats running in front of us in the dark by the monkey cages). I was happy for the break from the crowds, and even happier to share that break with these three awesome people.