Before landing I was curious if I was going to recognize Shanghai after 11 years+. I mean, I am just bach from Bucharest and I barely recognized parts of it after 6 months away from the city. And I lived there 7 years.
First Day in Shanghai
I take my room key and head to the 20th floor of our hotel. The view is not bad, but not amazing or maybe it’s just me getting used to high views and standards.
In about an hour I’m heading downtown to the Lujiazui Station. This is where the Oriental Pearl Tower is, the place where any trip to Shanghai starts.
I had been here 11 years ago, in a almost one month journey around China (Beijing – Shanghai – Xi’an etc.) I took together with my mother and other great ladies in 2004. I was 13 back then and I’m not sure how much I realized back then how lucky I was. As everybody had told me, the city changed immensely and I recognized the tower of course and I had a flashback in the very fast elevator, but that’s about it.
However, for the first night I chose only to walk around the city and in the area or the tower which is invaded by minions (there is also an official store),
take the Tourist Bund Tunnel (which was much of a disappointment because we were expecting something like a sightseeing tunnel, but there’s only lights and then you get to the other side), walk along the Bund (waterfront area) and admire Shanghai by night which is pretty amazing,
Shanghai is the kind of very modern city with skyscrapers and looks very futurist. During the day it looks foggy and actually I think it is pollution coming from the numerous plants at the outskirts of the city, but the view is amazing – tall buildings swallowed by white milky grey clouds.
shop and have dinner on the extremely crowded Nanjing Road.
Chinese design is also attractive, colorful and with lots of print and man … they have everything. I will not mention the selfie stick which is everywhere (even so, people were staring at mine bought from Bangkok), but they have all the small stuff you need and don’t need, all coming in an amazing colorful and ingenious package.
At The Bund it is the first place I saw people directing the pedestrian areas. There are seas of people there at night and probably without these people yelling some Chinese in loudhailer, the traffic would simply block. Even so, it is simply overwhelming and once you got a direction there is almost no possible way to go back.
What stroke me about Shanghai was that there were no foreign tourists. Only Chinese. And I was during all my stay in essentially touristic places. Where are the foreigners. I mean, to climb to the 351 m Space Capsule of the Oriental Pearl Tower we waited in line for almost two hours and we only saw a family of four and apparently the lady is a pilot for our company.
If you want to be a star, be European/American/white and preferably blonde and go to China. The flip out, they stare, the kids run to you, get embarrassed and then go back to their parents, they ask to take pictures with you, it’s crazy. Normally, they should be used to tourists, I mean foreign tourists.
However, you can tell how directed they all are and there are not the best words I can say about the behavior of SOME Chinese. Maybe the cultural gap is too huge, I know we were raised differently and have different cultural roots, but I have actually noticed this with all the Asians. They are good people, you can talk to them, joke, go out (I mean my Asian colleagues because Chinese do NOT speak English and don’t even try), but then that’s it. No way of clicking further.
At the smelly restaurant (I don’t mind and as opposed to what everyone told me, it does NOT smell) I had a spicy soup with minced meat coming in one of their colorful bowls with the big wood spoon and a pork schnitzel with rice which came with a sort of soup (water soup, which is too light for me and I don’t eat/drink).
For my friend’s fish I had to draw the fish and the rice, which was pretty funny, but I guess you can communicate very well with people if you want and keep a positive state of mind and don’t give up.
I stopped at a store to buy some snacks and I bought three bottles of tea that taste terrible right after coming from Nanjing road. There must be something wrong with me, but they were terrible. I’m not a huge fan of tea, meaning I never drink tea, but this was bottled and I expected to be sweet, but it was not. Here I remind myself of some Chinese wisdom coming from Confucius on which I base my whole life philosophy – “Disappointment comes from expectation”.
Second Day in Shanghai, 20 July 2015, 5:40 AM
Weird enough for me I woke up without the alarm clock at 5:40 AM. I watched some CNN and BBC and then got ready for the breakfast.
At the same time an ad is running about the newly rich of China (a new millionaire is made every WEEK) who are not as free as you would think a filthy rich person is as they have to do what the government says or otherwise they are arrested (probably this being the best).
The offer was very good, but I felt some were tasteless, which might also be from my recent teeth extractions/ anesthesia etc.
We took the metro which was crowded and extremely cheap. People are staring at us and in a station where we saw another white girl we stared at her and she stared at us, saying things with the eyes. Probably she was crew. Haha. In the metro it says “Please take care of th elderly, the children, the sick, the disabled and others in need of help” and there are cartoons panels everywhere. Back at the TV tower we went up to the highest point (Space Capsule or the upper most bubble of the tower) and them to the Transparent Observatory where the floor is made of glass, being the only all glass 360 degrees observatory in the world.
We took tons of pictures together with my Serbian and Brazilian colleague and then spent some time in the shop of the tower.
For Future Visits
My first visit in Shanghai was 100% guided and besides I was with group, now it’s my first time alone as an adult tourist, but for the next time, since I covered this time the most important attractions I plan on:
- Having a cocktail at The Vue Bar at the Hyatt Hotel;
- Sometime take a ride on the Shanghai Maglev which takes 8 minutes from the airport at a speed of 430km/h (bye bye Arlanda Express in Stockholm at a speed of over 202 km/hours). I don’t know when this will happen as we have the transportation covered, but I am curious as I read about this train in Foreign Policy Romania (to which I was a collaborator) quite a while ago;
- Go to the Shanghai Museum in People’s Square. I visited it in 2004 and I remember the most amazing Cartier jewelry exhibition which I saw advertised in Elle (this time was in Paris maybe) at the around the world page and I wrote so proud “seen it in Shanghai”;
- Visit the ShanghART Museum. Chinese Modern Art is booming and is sold for millions around the world and besides it is one of my greatest passions.
- Have dinner at M on the Bund (http://www.m-restaurantgroup.com/mbund/) watching the amazing night view.