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Published: March 31st 2009
The view from the SWFC.
28th March 2009
From one municipality to another, our train from Beijing rolled into Shanghai at 0705, and we quickly - eventually now accustomed to the 'elbows out' walk - made our way onto the subway train and to our Hostel. Here we are staying on Duolun Lu, which is very famous in Shanghai as being the old stomping ground of artists, poets and as home of some very famous Chinese literature. After checking in, we jumped straight back onto the subway heading back to the train station; our visa is running out fast, and with our next stop, Hong Kong, a mere 24 hour train journey away and leaving on alternative days, we couldn't afford to hang around. This accomplished we headed to Renmin (Peoples) Square to try and get our bearings on the city. Shanghai doesn't have a centre in the traditional sense, it is more a collection of different popular areas. Carried away by the shoppers, we found ourselves in the main shopping district of Nanjing Lu, a pedestrianised area leading all the way from Renmin Sq. to The Bund. Shopping not really being on our agenda - but still fun to check out the latest Chinese fashions!
Pudong from The Bund...We went up the bottle opener...
- we hastily made our way on to The Bund. The Bund is the embankment on the waterfront of the Huangpu River, where you can also find huge colonial buildings that wouldn't look out of place in London, Paris etc. Standing on the embankment also offers great views of the Pudong area (which we'll come to later). We spent the remainder of the afternoon having coffee, and holding off sleep! Being the most continental city ( if Beijing is the cultural capital, then Shanghai is the commercial capital) we have been in in China, unless you want 'western food' (ie McD's, Pizza Hut) ordering in local eateries proved quite daunting because they are totally catered towards locals, ie no English menu, no frills, open kitchen types. However, near our hostel we came across a very popular local joint, where if numbers of patrons is a sign of quality - this was the place to eat. So, we stood outside the window, copying down the Chinese symbols in our finest caligraphy, based on the pictures advertised and entered. Our writing must have been ok as we recieved everything correctly, and it was not only good, but possibly the cheapest we have
Sun setting over The Bund.
eaten for so far; we also recieved a little help from some friendly neighbours on how best to eat our dumplings....not chopsticks apparently....we're sure we added some entertainment for the onlookers!
29th March 2009
After a great night's sleep in possibly the comfiest bed ever, we rose to a cake and pizza breakfast from the local bakery. We can do continental as well as Shanghai can! We then headed to the French Concession; an alternative shopping district with a french architectural twist - art deco style buildings mixed in with H&M and C&A's (yes, it does still exist!) We grabbed a coffee and did something that we try to never do...plan our time in our next country. Shanghai is a city of shopping and skyscrapers and in coming from Bejing this allowed us an opportunity to leave the sight-seeing behind and just enjoy being away for a while. Having said that, two hours later we found ourselves back on the subway, heading for the Pudong area. This area lies across the river and is the heart of China's financial district. No two buildings are the same and you'd do well to find one less than 20 storeys high. It's
Hayley, cool as you like...
hard to conceive that this was just marshland less than 20 years ago. Having so many skyscrapers, we decided to shop around for the best views. We started at the Oriental Pearl Tower where the lookout is 263 metres tall but has the added bonus of being in a retro style tower (the one that looks like a needle) which we both liked but is apparently collectively hated here in Shanghai! We then headed for the Jinmao tower, which in our guide book - now seemingly outdated - was the tallest building in China at 420 metres. However this confused us as we were sure that quite literally the next building over towered above it. On further investigation, it turned out that this was in fact bigger, and so feeling brave, we stepped into the lift of the Shanghai World Finance Centre and headed to the 100th floor. At a whopping 492 metres to the roof it is the highest roofed building in the world (to date). It also has the highest observation deck in the world, with the added bonus (for Hayley) of a glass floor! Daniel manned up though and walked across it alongside Hayley and we were
...Daniel looking braver than he felt!
able to watch the sun go down and the lights of the city come on. For us, Shanghai really comes alive with the lights and this was what we had envisaged before coming here. A great experience.
Dinner was at the same place - by now we were pro's - and we even extended our menu to encompass a couple of things we couldn't actually recognise. Still can't.
30th March 2009
"In heaven there is paradise, on earth Hangzhou" and so it goes that with this in mind, we ventured outside the city limits to the city of Hangzhou. In China there are apparently 36 'West Lakes' - and this is the original after which all the others were named. We had high expectations, not only because it would be our last full day in mainland China (that's probably not p.c) but because all the guide books raved about this place. We travelled by train at a swift 170kmh and were in Hangzhou by lunchtime. First impressions were not great but we were prepared for that, and readily set off in search of the lake which was a mile or so away. The weather was overcast and a little
The futuristic observation deck on the 100th floor.
foggy which may have tainted our perception - along with the fact that we have come from Yunnan which for us is unsurpassed in beauty - and so although clearly beautiful, the lake didn't quite live up to our expectations. Nevertheless, we took a dragon boat over to the middle island, Lesser Yingzhou Island, which is four lakes on an island within a lake...did you get that?!! We spent some time wandering around the lakes, amongst the flower blossoms and tour groups(!) and then headed back to the mainland for some dinner on the lakeside before taking our late train back to Shanghai. A nice, if low key, day.
31st March 2009
A day we have been preparing for since we booked our tickets...we woke early in order to pack and check out as later today we have our lonnnnng train to Hong Kong. Our visa doesn't actually run out until the 2nd April but as previously said, the trains run every other day and so if we leave any later, we won't make it to Hong Kong in time! We have 24 hours to sit, contemplate, eat pot noodles and annoy each other, sat on the middle bunks
of a 6-berth cabin. Who's with us?!!!
Until next time....
H and D
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