Tuesday, July 28, 2009
For me Shanghai has always been a place I wanted to go one day, full of mystery and exoticism! So I was very excited when we left Suzhou on the train to Shanghai, the maglev no less. Upon arrival it was obvious we were back in an enormous city, in many ways it feels like the biggest in China I have been to. We had been tempted to get a taxi but when they started saying really high prices we figured we should brave the tube. I had been a bit put off by the thought of getting on London Underground during rush hour, which would blatantly be impossible with a ruck sack, but we should have known better. The metro is of course pretty brand spanking new, with big carriages and the luxury of air con! It felt funny navigating the underground again, but was really easy.
We were staying in Pudong, on the west side of the River Nangpu, the part which is “new”, home to Shanghai's tallest buildings and other modern complexes. The hostel was yet again pretty cool, we were staying in a loft style room which was kind of like a mini maisonette, an upstairs floor and everything for £12 each, not bad for Shanghai?! That night we headed out over to the older part of Shanghai, the bit everyone has always heard of... I was eager to see the Bund at night, but sadly the entire stretch of it was blocked off and a massive construction site. This became a running theme! We wandered about for a couple of hours up and down the shopping mecca which is East Nanjing road and around all these parts looking for somewhere to eat which was proving sadly elusive, until we found “Grandma's Kitchen”. The cold beer went down a treat and we ordered a second one, not noticing that the full restaurant we had entered was slowly dwindling to hardly anyone. Until that is we were asked to pay and it was made pretty clear we'd have to leave, having barely finished our food! We checked the time wondering if we hadn't noticed it getting late, and saw it was...9.45pm! On a Thursday.! We then wandered the streets for a while, the bonus of which was seeing groups of older people all ballroom dancing on a street corner. Random. Having missed the last tube (at 11pm- again Shanghai was surprising me!) we eventually managed to get a taxi under the river and back home...
True to form of acting our age we spent the next day at a waterpark, figuring it was about time we got some water action in this oppressive heat, and it was actually lots of fun. Not much more to say, waterparks really are the same the world over! Main amusing point of the day was me falling upside down in the wave pool and having to get pulled up by two helpful Chinese men looking and feeling like a drowned rat.
Last year Shanghai's newest tallest building opened, and I have to say from the outside it looks very cool indeed. We decided to put on our glad rags and spent a delightful evening having cocktails and then dinner at the top. What more can I say other than it was an awesome view, and of course a delicious meal!
The next couple of days we spent wandering the streets of hot and sweaty Shanghai, through the French Concession, to the Shanghai Museum, and just generally pounding the pavement as much as we could. I have to admit, I was somewhat disappointed by Shanghai itself. I had looked forward to seeing it for such a long time, but in reality I found it sprawling, littered with enormous construction sites and generally less interesting than I had thought it would be. But hey, you can't have everything eh, and it just goes to show that things never turn out how you think they will....my absolute motto for travel in China!
Oh and Calamity Morton struck again... yet again proving he is the luckiest mofo in the world by leaving his credit card in a bank machine on Saturday night and managing to get it back from the bank when it opened on Monday morning!! Lucky lucky lucky.