Friday 6 May
My time in Taiwan has come to an end and now I’m off to Shanghai. I thought the lunch served in the airplane would be Asian but was Western. Quite disappointing and the entire plane bar the few foreigners must be wondering what this is. And I flew Shanghai Airways!
Glad to arrive at Shanghai and I was keen to ride the maglev from Pudong International Airport to the city. I got the VIP single fare for 100yuan and got the carriage at the very end. The entire area was completely to myself as they pulled away the curtains like first class on a plane. Not sure what the normal class is like but there’s nothing special in the VIP area. It’s a 30km ride and I’m there in just 8 minutes!
The acceleration is gradual but once we near the speed of 300km/hr the train shakes from side to side and it’s hard to get a crisp shot. The ride is pleasant though and well worth the experience, though VIP isn’t.
I got a metro pass and then rode for quite sometime to my hotel (if only the maglev went right there) and checked in.
Then it was off to explore so I went to Nanjing Road which is a large long pedestrian only mall that is akin to Times Square in New York but not as packed. Though there’s heaps of people about and plenty of shops.
As I stepped out of the metro, lots of large buildings are evident.
I walked along Nanjing Road taking in the sights and doding the scores of people. Quite breathtaking!
For the first time people spoke in English, though they came to offer me fake watches, beer, or sex! They seem to spot us foreigners a mile away and even approached me while crossing a road amongst the throng of people! Pass.
I also popped into M&M World and had a look around. Very tempting but had to resist.
Nanjing Road – Shopping
Nanjing Road on TripAdvisor
I kept on walking to reach The Bund. Heaps of people about and the view is amazing. The Bund had all the old colonial style buildings with character and architecture.
On the other side of the river is the new Shanghai. If it weren’t for the haze the Shanghai financial district’s skyline would look so much better. Quite spectacular.
I think this should be on the other side of the river where the financial district is if they’re trying to replicate Wall St.
The Bund on TripAdvisor
I was really hungry by now and decided to head to Grandmother Restaurant which happens to also have English menus available. This restaurant served Shanghai cuisine and one of the recommended dishes is the caramelized pork belly. Super tender, oozing flavour, what a delicious caramel sauce to flavour the pork belly. Absolutely loved it. A bit too much for one person though, the meals are meant for sharing.
I also got some refreshing watermelon juice and fried spinach in garlic.
One can’t just eat a plate of pork belly so this plate of veggies was a must. Really delicious garlic flavour made the spinach very enjoyable. Worth the queue and the restaurant is very nice and very popular. Service was lovely too. Nice spot to enjoy an evening.
I should have taken a look at The Bund at night but had enough for the day. Nanjing Road hasn’t quietened down as yet and I also popped into this place I saw on the way for a sticky beak.
Seriously, this is inside a shopping mall. New World Famous Brand Town. Your platinum card ain’t going to cut it here. Home to a who’s who of designer and luxury brands.
Trying to find the MRT station. No English, no Google, no translator, got some worries. The VPN kicked in so had to backtrack and back to my hotel in the end. Wasn’t pushed into the train this time and managed to easily get a seat. Getting a seat on the metro should be a sport, far more hyped up than musical chairs.
Saturday, 7 May
Really needed a sleep in and finally got out exploring quite late. I thought I’d take a relaxing stroll through the French Concession. This is an area that was occupied by the French and other colonial powers quite some time ago.
French Concession on TripAdvisor
As a result, the influences are seen in the buildings, street scape, the tree lined streets, and today there are several French cafes, bakeries, patisseries and the like. Lots of small shops and artsy type places too.
Though there are still elements that reminds you that you are in China – those stealth scooters that sneak up on you while walking on the pavement, people clearing their throat and spitting (including women), fruit & veg markets, people pushing past impatiently, and small Chinese eateries.
I’d wondered the streets and needed something to eat so I popped into Baker & Spice which was very busy (brunch time). My kind of place I picked up one of the bakery items, a lemon delicious doughnut which was nice.
Baker & Spice on TripAdvisor
I saw a queue when walking around so after eating the lemon delicious dooughnut, I joined the queue. Jian bin, a traditional, Chinese breakfast, a very thin crunchy pancake, an egg cracked and smeared over the hotplate, spring onions, a crunchy item, a sauce mix, folded and then cut.
If the locals are lining up for something it's a good bet it must be good so got one of these. A crunchy yummy crisp pancake with a hit of chilli. Yum. Lips burning, now awake. @theothergrace any ideas what this is? #chinesefood #travel #china #shanghai #frenchconcession #foodblogger #instafood #foodpics #wheninrome
All I can say is delicious. Crunchy on the outside and inside with a real hum of chilli which is enough to wake you up if you weren’t already. Wow.
I started walking back and came across this peaceful park so I took a seat to take a quick break. Fortunately it’s been nice and cool which makes walking around pleasant.
Now I’m off to Fuxing Park which seems very peaceful right from the entrance. I could hear some catchy music so went to have a look. Lots of old people dancing! Interesting. Not far away from that were ladies singing opera.
Then a beautiful flower arrangement became visible. Ladies were doing tai chi and further up men were playing cards. Lots happening, not just any ordinary park.
Fuxing Park on TripAdvisor
Went for a walk around before heading to the Maglev Museum which I was supplied to visit after riding the maglev yesterday. It’s on the ground floor of the maglev station and entrance is free.
I’d seem something similar in Nagoya, Japan but this is much more simplified and still interesting. I didn’t know that the patent and technology were developed by Germany in 1934. Surprisingly, Germany never developed a maglev system. The technology had been used by Japan and China most notably but other countries too have developed maglev systems.
Shanghai Maglev Museum
Shanghai Maglev Museum on TripAdvisor
Was feeling hungry so went across to what looked like a bunch of eateries in the station. I finally settled on Yang’s Dumplings because that was the only thing I could recognise. I wanted something light so the pork wonton soup was perfect and the broth is good for me too. I also apparently was upsold dumplings so got that too.
The dumplings are quite large, crispy on one side and filed with a broth. Pierce, dip into a vinegar mix and enjoy. Pretty tasty, I like the crunch. The pork wonton are super silky and very light. This is such a big bowl packed to the brim. Very tasty, pretty good broth too. Very full. I need some juice so got some mango juice which is refreshing.
After a good sit down testing my feet, I headed to Yuyuan Garden.
It turns out there is no garden unless I missed it but a bunch of markets selling all things including food.
Completely touristy but the buildings are interesting. I like the lake too. Very lively. Time to head back to the hotel for a good rest.
Sunday, 8 May
I like exploring the food aspect while traveling so I signed up to Untour Street Eats Breakfast.
Starting at a point within the French Concession, we were about to visit a number of food spots on this 3 hour walking tour.
First stop is for hot soy milk which is a bit sweet and soothing for breakfast. One can also add deep fried doughnuts for crunchy and salty / sweet taste. Yum.
We also had these sesame buns filled with spring onions that were really tasty like a Middle Eastern type bread. We also ate a jian bin which was really delicious.
Steamed buns are a must. Yum.
We then visited a cafe in the vein of what you would find in Melbourne. Much needed coffee stop for most people. I had kombucha instead. We were also served special brownies with a secret ingredient (it’s not hash!). They’ve put a Szechuan pepper in so there’s the slight lemon hum of chilli with a touch of that numbing effect. Interesting.
We then took a stroll through the alleys which is a side of Shanghai I haven’t seen.
The next stop was a noodle shop where we watched the noodles made by hand before sitting down to enjoy the finished product. Simple but effective and tasty.
At the same venue we were presented with bamboo tofu (the skin that forms after boiling the tofu) is served with roulette chili’s – 9/10 are not hot, but one of them is. Enjoyable.
It was off to the wet markets, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables on offer, rice, tofu, meat, and seafood. This place is more like a supermarket.
We then visited a restaurant serving soup dumplings. There’s two types:
Shanghai dumplings thicker wrapper and more filing
Nanxing dumplings thinner wrapper and less filing
We had the latter and these soup filled dumplings were delicious. Lots of slurping. Lots of enjoyment.
Straight after that we were presented with a bowl of pork wonton soup that was split between two. Super silky wontons served with a five spice broth that is soup for the soul. Being fed too well!
Freshly made egg tarts which were absolutely delicious! Saved the best for last. Thanks Jamie and Brenda for an excellent food tour through the French Concession. So full!
Hadn’t slept much so back to the hotel for some sleep.
I’m beginning a tour so I met my roommate and other travelers before heading out to dinner.
I headed back to the hotel for some much needed sleep while the others took a walk along The Bund.
Monday, 9 May
Unfortunately not getting much sleep so have decided to not join the group and get some much needed rest.
There’s still more to see of Shanghai which I’m missing out. I guess wanted to take a visit to People’s Park where tour members from the Untour group told me parents literally matchmake they’re kids! They have an A4 piece of paper with the characteristics about their child and other parents go about and view them! Apparently for a woman who is 31, she had been left on the shelf! Traveling does bring up some unusual preconceived notions.
I popped down the road for lunch into a lovely Japanese restaurant and ordered the assorted nigiri sushi. Quite a meal, one gets 8 different sushi, edamame, salad, miso soup, and a drink so I had the hot matcha tea. Really full after eating all that and really delicious. Good healthy meal. The wasabi certainly helps to clear the sinuses out!
After waiting at the hotel for some hours, we headed off on the MRT to a large railway terminus. We grabbed dinner there. I had braised chicken with rice and chicken meatball soup which was tasty.
We then rode a high-speed train (reached 301kms / hr at one stage which I didn’t notice) and arrived at Hangzhou which had a massive railway terminus like an airport. Time till turn in.
Located in the French Concession near the Shanghai Library metro and US Consulate. Nice hotel but staff speak very limited English. The rooms are clean and comfortable though are quite humid even though the outside temperature is pleasant. I had trouble sleeping as a result and wouldn’t want to visit again for that reason.
Nanjing Ruige International Hotel on TripAdvisor