On arrival in Shanghai we made our way to the Mag Lev high speed train to take us into the center of the city. We have never been on a magnetic levitation train nor have we ever been on a train that fast! It reaches speeds of 431 KM per hour at certain times of the day (probably during peak hours) and the rest of the time it travels at 301 KM per hour (that’s the train we were on and Gordon was slightly sad, he wanted to go full speed – for me it was just fine). It’s the first high speed magnetic levitation line in the world, it was so smooth that you hardly knew you were traveling and it only took about 7 minutes to get into the city.
The location of our hotel was fantastic and the subway was only a 5 min walk. On our first day we visited the Yuyuan Market and strolled around the shops doing our best to get on Shanghai time, jet lag is really tough the first couple of days!
We came across a group of people gathered around a fellow who looked like he was putting on a puppet show but people had to look through a kaleidoscope viewer to see the performance – seemed interesting. So Gordon decided he had to check it out and it wasn’t a puppet show, it was more like a ‘big book’ slide show. Apparently it’s an ancient way of entertainment and it was cool to see.
After a walk through the market we visited the City of God Temple which is the most significant Taoist temple in Shanghai.
Later on we made our way through Yuyuan Garden. It’s a classic Chinese garden that has a history of over 400 years. It was like a maze with so many different walkways and little tunnels through the rocks. This place was BUSY!
After the garden we walked through a very popular area called the Bund. It’s a historical district with beautiful architecture and a really nice promenade along the river. Many of the opulent hotels are located here and we had to venture inside the Waldorf to sneak a peek.
I think we put miles and miles on our feet the first day!
The next day we were up really early thanks to the jet lag, so we decided to take the subway to an area called Xintiandi. It’s very trendy with lots of restaurants and a glitzy shopping center. Of course it wouldn’t be normal if we didn’t get lost, so before actually getting to the trendy part we walked through a very typical Chinese neighbourhood which was nice for us because we had the chance to see some real day to life living. While here we visited the Museum of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party – it was interesting but it was packed with locals visiting.
Our plan after visiting Xintiandi was to walk up Nanjing Road to the Peoples Square and visit the Shanghai Museum and one of the temples along the way. Since we got lost in Xintiandi and since Nanjing Road was much longer than we had thought, we didn’t make it to the museum before it closed…I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Nanjing road is a pedestrian street lined with many shops and vendors offering to ‘get’ or ‘make’ you Gucci or Prada or whatever designer item you want. This area is where we almost got ‘Shanghaid’ in Shanghai…some unsuspecting ‘local tourists’ asked me to take a photo of them and so I did. We chatted with them for a few minutes and they offered for us to follow them to a ‘tea ceremony’, we politely declined and they became more insistent that we go with them so we just turned and went the opposite direction. We already knew about the ‘tea scam’ thanks to a sign in our hotel lobby warning the guests of it.
After our full, very full, day of walking (oh my aching feet), it was time to sit down somewhere for a cold drink. One of the flight attendants had mentioned a place called Captains Bar where you could sit, have a drink, and watch all the skyscrapers light up. We managed to find Captains and it was in the Bund area which was on our way back to our hotel so we popped in for a beer and took in the light show. This should not be missed, the skyline at night in Shanghai is impressive and it amazed me how they could make some of the lights sparkle like fireworks – stunning!
Since we got our feet wet figuring out the subway and getting around Shanghai without much difficulty, we decided to head out of the city to visit Zhouzhuang. With some research we found out there was a bus that went directly there. It departed from Shanghai Stadium and the fare included the entrance ticket to the ancient water town. This is one of China’s oldest water towns and it’s around 900 years old. We loved all the water lanes and stone bridges.
Ancient Taoist Temple. We received blessings here.
We were treated to a canal cruise by Meno from Japan (he didn’t want to hire a boat alone). Our driver sang us beautiful Chinese folk songs.
It was interesting to see an ancient Chinese Opera stage but we are glad that we never booked an entire performance, the costumes are great but the singing can be a bit monotonous after a while.
On our last day in Shanghai we headed out of the city again to Suzhou which has some of the most beautiful classical chinese gardens in all of China. It can be reached in 30 minutes on the high speed bullet train so it was easy to do as a day trip. We took a local bus from the train station to the gardens but that was a bit sketchy because all the signs were in Chinese and no one at the bus station spoke English but we were very lucky a nice man assisted us and told us when to get off the bus.
We visited the Humble Administrators Garden which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We also visited Panmen Gate, an ancient water and land gate and the only one of its kind in China.
Shanghai is modern, chic, and surprisingly very clean for a city of 26 million!
Where we stayed: Narada Boutique Hotel
Written by: Tammy Hermann…Live~Love~Travel