Day 30 to 34 Last stop …..Shanghai


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Asia » China » Shanghai » Pudong
February 19th 2016
Published: February 19th 2016
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The tour guide in Beijing said that ‘Beijing is China today; Shanghai is China - future!’ within moments of arriving I see what she means. We arrived at modern Shanghai Honqiao station and within minutes we were heading towards the centre on the busiest subway system in the world. Our destination for the next five nights, was to be a hotel near Peoples Square, as we would later find out, very convenient for exploring Shanghai. We thought we had booked a hostel, but had been previously bought and renovated by a big chain. The first words from the receptionist was that our room was in use, our tired bodies slumped, ‘so we have upgraded you’, yes-result! It turned out to be a very nice suite which done us well for our time here.



With large cities we usually like to jump on a city sightseeing bus to get to know the important city centre sights but also orientate ourselves to know where to aim for. So plugging our earphones in, off we went. Since the mid 1800’s, when China signed a treaty with several nations to open up trade, Shanghai has flourished, particularly in the 20’s and 30’s when the building development really took off. The British established themselves on the banks of the Haungpu river on what is now called ‘the Bund’ (Anglo-Indian term for muddy-bank) with many of the original buildings preserved to today. On the other side of the River-Shanghai’s Pudong a business area containing some of the most tallest and futuristic buildings made! Shanghai hasn’t been backward with their development, but have also kept some historic areas intact. One area is the French concession an area of European style houses. These areas (Xintiandi) have been cleverly converted with hi-end shops like Prada and Armani. In another area (Tianzifang) not too far away is something similar to London’s Camden Market. There are plenty of things to do in Shanghai. Apart from the usual Art and History museums we thought we would join the hundreds of Chinese at the Shanghai Aquarium. This was great and far better than we have at home, including 4 glass tunnels with the last being on a 150 metre travellator. The following day again with the queues we went to the top of the Jinmao Tower the third highest building at metres 420. Which sounds high but is dwarfed by the Shanghai tower at 632 metres, it wasn’t open for public on the day we went but the queues would have been twice as long probably.



I’ve already mention the many people, and I know we have descended on China during their new year, but the amount of people is incredible. We decided to go to the Yuyuan garden and found ourselves being herded through lines of Police and army not realising the we were going through some sort of New Year’s Grotto whether we wanted to or not. We eventually found the sanctuary of the gardens and it was worth the effort with small temples, and ornamental ponds with huge Koi carp.



Apart from the amount of Chinese TV programmes devoted to talent shows, variety and a bit of Chinese opera we haven’t seen any live entertainment, we decided to change that and went to the Chinese Circus world. We’re not sure about people risking their neck in order to entertain, but the acts were amazing, with girls leaping from bicycle to bicycle, gymnasts, trampolines, an amazing Ferris wheel contraption with guys walking on the outside as it went round performing juggling skills, then finishing the evening with a motorcycle act. Now I’ve seen the wall of death at Southend many years ago, but this was up to 8 motorbikes inside a 30ft approx. globe whizzing about in every direction, fantastic!



Because of the difficulty of the organising visa requirements, having to say where we were at given time and the difficulty of organising train tickets We were daunted before we came to China and thought it may be the toughest part of the trip. We probably over worried about the Chinese journey but It has been a shock to the system. One person we spoke to said that they chilled out in Vietnam for 10 days just to get over it. I know what they mean- the amount of people, the barging in front of you, the cars and bikes seemingly aiming at you, and the electronic voices coming at you from every direction. We found the Chinese people friendly, and the children wanted to practice their English saying hello. I suppose because they saw so few westerners some wanted our picture taken with them.



A disappointment in China was the food. We like our food, may
Three of the tallest buildings in the worldThree of the tallest buildings in the worldThree of the tallest buildings in the world

We went in the one on the left
be it was us and in these last few days we have really tried be braver but when your confronted on the menu by mouth-watering items such as Fatty Intestine pudding, Bullfrog, Mushroom and Aardvark, old Alter with appetizing (their words) flat fish head, chicken feet and the previously mentioned Sea Cucumber, its just it bit difficult. On the streets is there a worse smell than roasting Tofu?. We did like the xiao long bao, little pork dumplings at the snazzy Ding Ti Fung restaurant.



After a while, catching trains and subways was fine as they use Chinese and Latin lettering, and many ticket places can speak a little English. Buses are a problem that is all in Chinese and they have such a distance between stops, so if you miss your stop you have a long walk.



We have really enjoyed Hangzhou and particularly Shanghai, it is good to leave China on a high (literally). We spend our last night – valentines - for a drink in the 32nd floor of the Hyatt on the Bund hotel possibly the best view over Shanghai’s Bund and Pudong area. There have been some great things I like about China, the way that people can express themselves in the parks by singing dancing, playing cards even having group chinwag. The forward thinking, although ruthless, with their buildings (they moved a concert hall 66 metres for cosmetic reasons) and transportation, if only they could do something about chopsticks……….



Next stop Hanoi, Vietnam and we have 6 weeks to get to Singapore overland.


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From top of Jimnao towerFrom top of Jimnao tower
From top of Jimnao tower

You can just make out the Grand Piano down below
XintiandiXintiandi
Xintiandi

in the French Concession


19th February 2016

Great trip info!
Thanks for your posts. I've enjoyed reading about your trip from Moscow. I plan on doing the trans-Mongolian railway this time next year, so it's given me some great ideas. I see you're off to Vietnam next. I was there in November 2014 and absolutely loved it! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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