China actually had good beer! Tiger, Tsingtao, and even some microbrews to boot! This .5 litre bottle cost something like 60 cents. However, drinks in the clubs and bars had prices comparable to those in Japan.
I wish I had more time in Shanghai. One full day and two days of travel to and from there were just not enough (we did have two full nights, though).
Things that didn't surprise me about Shanghai:
It's dirty. Most places smell like piss, that rotting essence of real Asian Markets and Chinatown, and cigarettes. Everyone hawks monster loogies and spit them out all over the place. At the end of the day I got black boogers of monster proportions.
McDonalds and KFCs were as abundant as in every other foreign country I have visited.
Many people spoke English, but appreciated the effort I went through to speak the little (read: aside from food, I know four words) Chinese that I could. It was like France in this respect, except the Chinese were forgiving if I spoke English.
There were many poor people begging on the street. It is so hard to ignore someone in distress, especially if they take their kids with them, and especially if those kids have congenital defects. Gives whole new meaning to the cliche "there are children starving in China, so eat your f**king broccoli muthafucka".
The Chinese merchants are ruthless and cunning when it comes to maximizing profit. I talked down a "legitimate" DVD set from 600 yuan to 100 (about 12 bucks), and I knew I was paying a little too much. Still, it does LOOK legit, and it cost very little. These people will physically detain you to keep you in their shop, and they are excellent actors.
Surprising things about Shanghai:
Chinese people think that I am Chinese, and they expect me to speak Chinese like a Chinese person.
It was hard to find good Chinese food, and easy to find good foreign foods.
I didn't hear anyone say "gweilo" and point as we passed (I understand why they didn't when I alone passed).
I ran into a lot of very nice Chinese people. I was expecting everyone to be rude, pushy, and loud but this turned out to be kinda wrong.
There were very few foreigners in China. Most that I saw during the day were between the ages of 50 to 70 and had European accents.
The city is HUGE, and there are more sky scrapers in one city than I ever imagined. And they continue being built at an astonishing rate.
The MagLev train is already complete. The bullet train is officially obsolete.
100% of the taxis and about 80 percent of the cars on the road are VWs. I was expecting Japanese cars, DaeWoos, or Hyundais to be crowding the streets, but this was not the case. VW is definetely making bank in Shanghai.
The smog is worse than LA. If breathing in LA for one day is equivilent to smoking a pack of cigs, then I smoked about four packs in Shanghai for the 48 hours I was there.
One day in Shanghai was a great time. Even though the time I had was way too short, I sort of prefer trips that I feel are too short. It means that I had a great time and wasn't dissapointed, tired out, disillusioned, or fed up. Sometimes not enough is better than too much.