The next day was another gorgeous day with very clear skies and a temperature just over 80 degrees. We first walked down the Bund once again in the daylight admiring the skyline and taking lots of pictures. We then walked to the Yu Yuan Market which was near Yu Yuan Garden. Along the way we happened upon Old Shanghai Road which is a unique road with Chinese shops where not much English was understood and haggling was not part of the buying process like it is in so many tourist shopping areas in Asia. We were able to take a lot of pictures of some typical Chinese life and culture. As we completed our walk on Old Shanghai Road it came right to Yu Yuan Marketplace which was a very unique set of shops geared to tourists but still very fascinating. We did stop and have a few Chinese dumplings because we saw a long line of people ordering them. While we were eating our dumplings in this very small Chinese restaurant, two of our friends from the cruise just happened to come inside. We had said goodbye on the ship because they were staying at a different hotel and for only one day. We didn’t expect to run into them in a city of more than 25 million people. What was even funnier is later in the day while we were walking along the Bund with 10,000 other people, we ran into this same couple a second time. How strange is that!
We didn’t visit the Yu Yuan Gardens because we were told the flowers were not yet in bloom yet. We did walk across the bridge to the garden which has a very old teahouse in the center of a very large pond. It was a very picturesque area and the pond was loaded with Koi. We also did some shopping on the other side of the Garden where a person had told us was where all the locals shopped. This was a large four story building that contained hundreds of small shops. Many of the shops sold exactly the same things and the place certainly was not very busy when we were there. We bought a couple of items but really just looked around.
After going back to the hotel to freshen up we went back out to see the city at night. When the city starts getting dark the city’s many buildings start lighting up and you can see a unique light show. There are no lasers flashing around like Hong Kong but you can see many lights flashing on the top and sides of the buildings. Many of the buildings look like giant TV screens where you can watch commercials or short videos. Some scroll words or letters up or around. Other buildings have fireworks going off in lights on the side of their building. The Oriental Pearl Tower changes colors throughout the evening and has flashing lights going up and down. The huge Shanghai Tower has Chinese characters that rotate around and up to the top of the building along with messages that rotate around its top. In addition to the buildings there are ships that are lit up going up and down the river adding to the light show. These boats provide a river cruise tour for 50 minutes. We took a cruise on the third night and found the ride very enjoyable. It is really quite a sight and at least 10,000 people every night stroll along the Bund walkaway to view this amazing view.
On the second night we took the passenger tunnel underneath the river to the Pudong side to see the Oriental Pearl Tower a little closer. We had thought the passenger tunnel was a walking tunnel but it turned out to be a little ride where you got in a little “car” just like an attraction at Disney World. The car took you through the tunnel which was colorfully lit up to enhance the experience. When we did get to the Pearl Tower we took some pictures and made our way over to the Disney Store to look for some souvenirs of Disney products from Shanghai but there really wasn’t much that was unique to Shanghai. Outside the Disney store was a very unique clock that had Disney characters going around and Disney songs being song at certain times. We also made our way over to a large shopping center next to the Pearl Tower. It is amazing on how many name brand stores they have and how many large shopping malls they have. We spent most of our time in the bottom floor of the mall looking at the various food stalls selling strange foods that didn’t really look too appealing to us. We did sample a little fried bread with vegetables in it and a smoothie. After this we walked back to the passenger tunnel to take us back to the Bund side of the river.
We found a restaurant not far from our hotel called Lost Heaven that we ate at the first night because it was about the only thing open at 10 PM besides the hotel restaurants. We ended up eating there three nights and really enjoyed the food. We had their vegetable noodles, spring rolls and a couple of different Chinese chicken menu items. Everything we ate there was delicious! This was a huge restaurant and it was packed every night we were there.
On our second day we spent doing a little shopping back at the Old Shanghai Road stores. We bought a few souvenir gifts. We picked up a few Disney lollipops for our granddaughters at one of the Yu Yuan Market stores we had seen the first day. Disney items are sold everywhere you look but you have to be careful that it is really a Disney product. They also sell a Diversity product that has a logo that looks like Disney and is packaged the same way. Some of the characters don’t quite look the same though. The prices are a lot less expensive for these copy brands.
We spend much of the second and third days walking to different areas of the city. We went to most of the markets that tourists go to in Shanghai but most were not that impressive. We spent more time walking through the residential areas seeing how people lived. Little things fascinated us like the little containers with water outside the small restaurants where they did their dishes. It is always amazing to see how the laundry is hung out the windows for the entire world to see. Small little “golf carts” were used to pressure wash the sidewalks and bike areas. You constantly saw bikes or mopeds with families of 3, 4 or even 5 people going down the road. Bikes were used for hauling everything from trash to products for delivery and food deliveries. No matter how far into the city we went, we always felt safe and never felt threatened. People would look at us a little strange at times because they definitely could tell we were tourists but most people just smiled at us and asked where we were from.
The last day we were in Shanghai it was cold and the visibility was extremely poor. Not a good day for photography. You could only see one third up the Shanghai Tower before it disappeared into the fog. We took the ferry over to the other side of the river. Like Hong Kong this was a very old ferry and only cost us around $0.30 per person each way. We walked along the promenade on the Pudong side of the river and this was a very nice area created as part of the new city plan. It was also used as a bike trail and jogging area. We then went walking into the city which is really the financial district. Shanghai has one of the largest financial districts in the world and rivals New York City’s Wall Street in size and the number of large banks who have their corporate headquarters there. We walked into a few of the shopping malls and browsed at a few stores. We walked into the Shanghai Tower, the World Financial Center and the Jin Mao Tower. It was a good walk and allowed us to see how expensive everything was on this side of the river. When we came back to the other side on the ferry we went to Nanjing Road which is another huge shopping area and at night it looks like Times Square with all of the street signs lit up and people crowding the streets. These shops were expensive and there were no bargains to be found on this road. We did see several food stalls though that were doing a great business.
To give you an idea on how much we liked Shanghai, you can tell this by the quantity of pictures that we took here. In the first two and a half weeks of our trip (including a 3 night stay in Hong Kong), we took 650 pictures. In the 4 days we visited Shanghai we took 650 pictures in just this city and hardly took any on the last day because of the poor visibility. This was by far our favorite city we have visited during this trip and look forward to coming back here again.
We also learned a little about Chinese culture during this trip. Here is what we learned:
- Be very careful when you are at a tourist site with a Chinese group. They will push and shove you out of the way without any thought that this is wrong. Sharon had a man reach over her head and basically use her shoulders to rest his arms so that he could put his camera in front of her face to take his pictures. In the Jin Mao Tower we were almost trampled by a Chinese group of tourists behind us.
- When Chinese people walk along the streets, they walk in a straight line and expect you to get out of the way. They also have a cell phone in their hands and are looking down 90% of the time. Everyone in China appears to have a cell phone.
- Don’t try to talk when there are two or more Chinese people having a conversation near you. They YELL everything they say so that the other person can hear them. It almost appears as if they are angry because they are yelling but they are just having a normal conversation.
- Don’t ever walk across the street just because the Green Pedestrian sign says you can. It is guaranteed there will still be several bikes, mopeds or motorcycles still coming through and they certainly believe they have the right of way. Cars will even be flying around a corner just to beat the traffic. Although we never saw a pedestrian get hit, they certainly have no right of way in China.
- Interesting that we saw, that police will ticket you for jaywalking, we saw that quite a bit. But, no tickets for driving at night with no headlights.
We left Shanghai to go to Singapore where we depart on the Celebrity Constellation for four back to back cruises that eventually takes us to Venice.
Sharon & Greg