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Published: January 27th 2008
Monday 21 January
After a good night's sleep we awoke. We checked out the buffet breakfast at the hotel but it looked similar to other “plastic” food we had seen in China so we decided to eat the bananas we had with us and pick up something else later.
Our first stop was the railway station as we wanted to secure our final train tickets as we had heard there would be a rush with Spring break beginning on the 23rd. This was done easily by showing the ticket seller the map page of Beijing with Beijing written in Chinese and the date we wanted the ticket written next to it. We did forget to ask for top bunks so ended up with the bottom ones.
From here we caught the subway back to Nanjing Road where we'd decided to look for another hotel. The Piaoying advertised it was 500 metres from the Metro but in reality it was well over a kilometre! It was 11.30 before we'd looked at a room at the Nanjing Hotel - a little more expensive, not as spacious or as warm or well lit but a better location! We caught a taxi
back to the Piaoying and successfully vacated the room just before the checkout time of midday!
Once established in our new room we went and found food at a little nearby restaurant. We thought we were ordering dim sum but huge serves were delivered and 2 were soups! Never mind, we ate more than enough and will know not to order so much next time! From here we went for a stroll on the Nanjing Donglu, a pedestrian only shopping extravaganza where we were accosted by lots of touts trying to entice us into the back streets to buy fake goods. We resisted and explored the big shops in the mall instead. Rags managed to buy some jeans, Judy would like to but all the cute ones are too small!
It was bitterly cold and energy levels were flagging so we returned to the hotel to have a break before venturing out later. It was a good chance to catch up on the blog which had been neglected for a couple of days.
For dinner we went to a nearby Sichuan restaurant chosen because it was full of Chinese, not a white face to be seen! We
ordered a dish by pointing to one being eaten by a nearby group. This turned out to be a fish braised in a potent chilli mix. The fish was very fresh it being shown to us live before going into the pot! When the dish arrived the waiter scooped off at least 50 chillies, leaving us to demolish a delicious fish with a side order of greens. This was one of the most expensive dishes we had in China, just over A$10!!
Whilst eating Judy struck up a conversation with the Chinese group next to us as she is apt to do. It was a little disconcerting to hear a perfect English accent from one couple and a New York accent from the others. They were brothers and sisters who had arranged their holidays to meet each other here in Shanghai.
As Rags has caught a cold we returned to our room where he dosed himself up to get a good night's sleep. Being sick at this stage of the journey is not on in his opinion and he intends not letting it get any worse.
Tuesday 22nd January
As the hotel breakfast consisted of similar
foods to yesterday's Chinese foods, we ventured out into a very cold morning (who said Shanghai was warm), one of the coldest we have experienced up to now. A quick search didn't find anywhere we could have the breakfast we wanted so we lowered our aspirations to the level where a McDonalds breakfast was acceptable! After the expected greasy meal but with a reasonable hot drink, we were on our way to explore the Bund.
The Bund, an Anglo-Indian term for the embankment of a muddy waterfront, is a stretch alongside the Huangpo River. This area dates back to the early colonial days of Shanghai with banks and trading houses as well as the original stock exchange still there. This has now been transformed into a tourist attraction with a promenade that begins with an art gallery/ museum, stalls and many boats for river cruises. Unfortunately most of these weren't operating, the one we did find was to have a trip in about 45 minutes time but we succumbed to the cold, snow falling lightly on us.
Rags also fell for the 'want to buy a cheap copy, Rolex watch'. He thought he had done well at under
A$6, only to find later that the 50 yuan note in change was counterfeit! The watch now cost him the princely sum of about A$15! That's what what happens when Judy turns her back for a few minutes.
After a lunch at a local place “we wouldn't go back to” we returned to our room with another handbag that somehow got into Judy's possession!
Rags' cold needed a rest whilst Judy uploaded mail and updated the blog. Dinner was at a more upmarket place, South Memory Restaurant on the upper floor of a huge shopping plaza. It consisted of a few dishes we hadn't had before such as sliced rolled duck and salted egg, taro dumplings and pork spare ribs covered in garlic & chilli. They were all tasty but the latter will definitely be attempted by Rags some time in the future. Even though we looked through most of the shops there, nothing was bought. Clothing and shoes seem to be the only things on sale much to Rags' disgust.
Wednesday 23rd January
After reading our email and ringing Rags' mum on Skype we set off for the Pudong area across the river from
us. Fifteen years ago this area was a swampy area where most of Shanghai's vegetables were grown. Now this financial hub boasts streets of high-rise buildings.
We firstly explored the Super Brand Store, the first big building you see when you come out of the subway entrance. This colourful building is flanked by the Oriental Pearl Tower, a 468m high TV tower with two bulbs containing restaurants and viewing platforms, and a lower floor with a very well presented museum giving the history of Shanghai.
From here we set off for our next destination, the Jinmao Building. After a lot of walking we finally found it and as we went through the entry courtyard a tout offered Rags another 'Rolex' for 200 yuan. He pulled out the counterfeit 50 yuan note and said he'd swap it for the watch. The tout couldn't grab it quickly enough! Wonder who'll get the note next?
The Jinmao Building is presently the 4th tallest building in the world (there is one being built right next door which will be even taller) with tourists being able to get up to the 88th storey for a cost of 70 yuan each. We
were told that the visibility was not any better there than lower down, so instead, we went to the coffee shop of the Hyatt Hotel on the 54th floor and had a glass of wine each for about the same cost, seated in comfort by the window.
It had taken quite a bit of effort and walking on our part to get to this building, the sign-posting and directions were hopeless. This was borne out even more for our next destination which was the tourist tunnel under the river back to the Bund. We followed the signs, ended up a long way down the river walkway, only to find it was back the way we had come. We retraced our steps and that's when the sign-age finished.
Two tired and frustrated tourists made their way back to the underground station and returned to their room, where a scotch and a snooze were much appreciated, after about 6 hours of solid walking.
As we were getting a little bored with Chinese food we tried Babella's Kitchen in one of the complexes and had a terrible Italian meal. Twenty minutes after Judy was served her drink Rags' drink came,
followed by pizza, without tomato, before luke-warm soups, and when we had just about finished the lasagne was served. A most forgettable meal!
Thursday 24th January
We actually saw the sun a couple of times today. It was chilly but fine. Our destination for the day was the Old City, several kilometres from where we are staying. A taxi was taken, the fare only being about A$2 and our legs are starting to feel the strain of all the work they have done recently.
We had the receptionist at the hotel write our destination, Yuyuan Gardens, in Chinese for the taxi driver but he still managed to drop us off at a spot where we were able to walk in the wrong direction. Not a problem, today everything seemed to fall into place and we eventually came to the entrance.
These gardens,founded in the early 16th century are a fine example of Ming garden design. They are absolutely huge and after following a couple of tour groups around for a while we had seen enough - it all started to look a bit the same!
As we walked out of the exit there was
Nanjing Street at night
Reminds us of Times Square
a building with a huge dim sum kitchen. We later noticed that it was self-serve arrangement where you took a tray and selected various items. Before that we had already been accosted by a couple of ladies pushing a food trolley and they seated us with several dishes similar to what we have at home. When we later checked the counters we ended up with snails in a black sauce, chicken skewers, dumplings, and some sticky rice. Unfortunately the food wasn't as hot as it could be which took a bit away from it. Rags found the snails tasty, Judy wouldn't try them!
Shops jam the area surrounding the gardens, all set up for the tourist but lots of fun if you are prepared to bargain hard. We bought all sorts of things here such as table runners, gifts, a picture etc. Here we found the first bit of cheap technology for sale, a 64Gb memory stick. A casual query set the price at A$100 but as we weren't really interested we didn't counter offer, we just walked away. The lady followed Rags through several shops, the price dropping all the time. Rags got sick of being hassled so
made a ridiculous offer, finally becoming the proud owner of something he didn't really want, for about A$16.
By now it was after 1600, getting a little cool, so we entered a building with wholesale shops upstairs. Here we were still welcome but able to shop without being continually pestered.
Laden with purchases we headed for the taxi rank, to find that the fares had now increased 500% because of the “heavier traffic”. As we weren't as exhausted as we normally would be at this stage we walked the 20 mins or so back to the hotel.
Nearing the hotel in Nanjing Donglu, we were again accosted by people asking if we wanted to buy watches or bags. If you acknowledge them you are asked over and over again, or you can just ignore them which gives them the hint after a while. Rags had a bit of fun, either telling them in Dutch he couldn't understand them, or beating them to it and asking them if they wanted to buy a watch. Either way, they left without another word!
Friday 25th January
The morning was spent packing our bags and putting them into storage. Our
first stop this morning was back at the memory pen shop as we had some problems getting the one we bought to work. Judy wanted a refund but Rags agreed to a swap, as she demonstrated it was working on the shop laptop -we'll see if this one is any good! While we were here we tried the snack (dimsum) shop again, this time not being so greedy!
Another taxi ride saw us Huaihai Lu the main street that runs down the French Concession. This is an upmarket shopping area with several huge shopping plazas that have lots of customer less brand name shops. We walked on and eventually found Sun Yatsen's former residence down a side street, a museum overflowing with memorabilia. We wandered through but a lot of the names didn't mean much to us.
An early dinner followed before we made our way back to the hotel to pick up our luggage before making our way to the train station for the overnight trip to Beijing. This was quite a pleasant and uneventful trip.
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