First stop Shanghai via business class with Air New Zealand. A sensational way to start our holiday. The food, entertainment and service was amazing. The 10 day tour was the best way to see a lot in a short time. It was very flexible and gave us independence. http://www.chinaodysseytours.com
We were met at the airport and taken into the city by our wonderful private tour guide Bonnie. Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city named the Paris of Asia. A huge city of 25 million, it is very spread out so you don’t notice the people, as you do the traffic. Surprisingly the drivers are very skilled and courteous, unlike New Zealand drivers. We only witnessed one car accident. Cars weave in and out of lanes and honk to let scooters, bikes, pedestrians and other drivers to make them aware of their existence. They all give way relentlessly. No road rage. The same with the people. They push, shove, queue-jump, and no-one says a word. Snooze you lose. They are also very fashionably dressed and very brand conscious which apparently signifies their wealth/status.
There is a vast amount of greenery everywhere with the gorgeous trees, gardens and parks so they’ve done a fantastic job of incorporating this into the city jungle. The visit to the Urban Planning Exhibition Centre is a must. It chronicles the past, present and future. The People’s park closeby is also a must; so beautiful and nice to catch some live Tai Chi.
Tip-always have your destination written down and plan an hour in advance for your arrival. We wanted to walk to the French Concession/Quarter which was marked on our map, yet no-one understood us when asking for directions. We ended up on the periphery of the area, opposite Fuxing Park, eating Mexican at the Boxing Cat; a favourite haunt for Expats. If you call this area Xintiandi; they get it. The architecture is stunning with internationally acclaimed restaurants, cafes, designer shops and a stunning lake and park nearby. Second attempt was an easy walk from our hotel and we tried a chilled green tea latte at Starbucks. Delish.
Tripadvisor recommendation was to eat at Ji shi, so we made a reservation in advance and got directions written down in Chinese. However 45 minutes later on the other side of town, we arrived at a restaurant called Jesse. Unbeknown to us, this was another newly opened sister restaurant. Talk about lost in translation, we sought help from a lovely young French couple and spent 100 RMB on taxi fares, to then end up eating at Hishengo Korean on our first night in Shanghai, in the Shanghai Financial Centre! We just had to laugh. Yikes, my entire fault as I should have done better research but had relied on my tour guide. Hindsight is a great thing.
We stayed at the Bund Hotel which was very good and centrally located, close to Nanjing road for good shopping and sightseeing. Our room and bathroom were huge. Breakfast was ok and easy to follow paleo, yet I did manage to sneak in a portuguese tart and a croissant as my holiday treat. For dinner we had a yummy spicy kung pao chicken dish at a 24 hour cafe just up the road. Not far also was Cafe Lungo waffle shop where we drank another yummo iced green tea latte.
We loved Yu garden and got a taste of the local life in the Yuyuan Market. The Jinmao tower gave us a birdside view of the city and the stroll along The Bund area gave us beautiful city views along the Huangpu river. We opted for the evening acrobatic show (1.5 hrs) and no regrets. Sitting the entire show on the edge of your seat, you marvel at the talent, humour, strength, passion and energy of these artists. Balancing vases on their heads, or objects on their noses or themselves was unbelievable. You name it, they could do it. And more.
Just before we flew to Guilin, Bonnie gifted us a punnet of delicious, fresh dates. They were sensationally crunchy and tasted like a Nashi Pear. Oh to get these in New Zealand.
Asian food is cheap in Shanghai, but surprisingly shopping is not. Follow me next week for my post on Guilin.