Published: June 2nd 2011June 1st 2011
After a super efficient flight from Hanoi to Shanghai with a quick change in Guangzhou and sneaking through the "special queue" at immigration, we arrived at our lovely hostel - unbelievably our first hostel on this trip.
We decided to settle here for a week and packed an awful lot in! With Shanghai being so westernised, we took advantage of the huge shopping malls to buy new clothes, drink Starbucks, eat delicious Sushi and see Kung Fu Panda 2 (where better to see it than China really?!) Our hostel was conveniently located next to a huge Carrefour so we made many trips here to pick up pots of noodles and get excited by food we recognised. Just like being back in Lille....only with a slightly Chinese slant!
After purchasing such pretty clothes, shoes, bags etc, we just had to put them to good use and where better than one of the world's best bars overlooking the Bund with our new roommates?! So it may have cost 100rmb(10 pounds) to get in but it was definitely worth it! Admittedly KC's feet might not have agreed the next day after wearing heels for the first time in over 4 months!
Attempting to fit in with the locals we headed to a busy fast food style Chinese restaurant. Everyone had dumplings so we pointed at them and asked for 2. Seemed so simple but it really wasn't! Not speaking a word of English, the waitress called her friend over who got her phone out and started typing in what she wanted to say which usefully had a translator function. The typing went (slowly) as follows: 'you want dumplings and bone soup?', 'dumplings yes, bone soup no', 'but you have to have bone soup', 'no want bone soup, just dumnplings', 'you need both', 'ok we have both then','2?', 'yes'. Phew.....Or so we thought until 30, yes 30, dumplings and 2 bone soups turned up! Needless to say even we couldn't manage all 30! From here on in, we always have our Mandarin phrasebook with us and it has been invaluable!
Taking the exciting metro we visited the zoo to see the pandas (typical), kangaroos (not so typical) and a plethora of other animals from snakes and crocs to monkeys and lions. Quite a good zoo actually made even better with the speaker system playing songs like Rasputin and Bluebells of Scotland!
Classic tunes for a Chinese zoo obviously....!
We also managed to squeeze in visits to the Shanghai Museum and the Art Museum. That's in between posing for photos with the 'locals' who seem to think we are hilarious and quote "you are happy people". Just like being back in India!
'Chinatown' also more commonly known as Yu Classical Street provided a beautiful change from the huge modern buildings of Shanghai wih traditional pagodas and the Yuyuan Gardens. A slight maze to navigate but totally worth it!
Making the most of the metro we tubed out to the Shanghai F1 Circuit and managed to blag our way in without paying and somehow ended up in the room above the track where the officials all sit with their computers (yes we are clearly not F1 experts!). Only on our 2nd visit to this exciting room for more pictures were we 'escorted' out! Oops!
Not content with just this sightseeing we caught the bus to the Jade Buddha Temple and also saw an acrobatic show (not at the temple of course!), which had us both in fits of giggles. The acts were amazing and did some incredible stunts but
if there was a juggling ball, diablo, hoop or hat to be dropped, then it was! This made it all the better though as when they were piling up and balancing on each other there was a realistic chance that they might fall which just added to the tension!
Finally we caught the train from the huge, super efficient railway station - much to the amusement of everyone else who gathered around us looking at our ticket and then in the phrasebook. With a boarding gate and waiting area it is fair to say that this is no Indian train chaos. You even get your curtains shut for you and told when to get off! No chai chai chai unfortunately but there are still carriages going up and down selling things.
Overall Shanghai has been amazing! We have walked our little legs off and enjoyed the modernity and western aspects of it yet relished (mostly!) in the lack of English spoken. If you only have one thing in China, make sure it is a phrasebook!
There are more photos below