Two Half Days in Shanghai

After spending the night at the Changjiang International Music Festival, Alana and I made our way back to the Zhenjiang train station to catch our train back to Shanghai. The trip was about two hours on the 高铁 (high speed train). By the time we got settled in to our hostel and were ready to head out to explore it was about 4pm. Our flight back to Hong Kong left the next day at 4pm so we had 24 hours to soak in as much of Shanghai as we could. Here are some of the highlights:

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What could possibly be better than soup dumplings? Fried soup dumplings

Delicious Dumplings

We got these from 上海小杨生煎 (Yang’s Fried Dumplings) on 黄河路 (Huanghe Road) near the People’s Square metro station. The restaurant was pretty crowded so we got them to go and ate on a bench in a nearby park. The dumplings had a thicker dough and were fried and crispy on the outside, but softer on the inside. We had pork and vegetable filled. The dumplings were also filled with a rich broth that had a tendency to squirt out when you took a bite. They were some of the tastiest dumplings I’ve ever had.

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I’m sure it was a cool place before the invasion of consumer culture. Can you spot the Golden Arches and m&m store?

Nanjing Road

This wide pedestrian street is lined with shops and restaurants. It was very commercial and had a strong western influence. At one point we could see three different KFCs while standing in one spot. We were walking down towards the bund when we came across the Chinese holiday crowd.

Crowd is a bit of an understatement. It was wall to wall people as far as the eye could see. The streets were lined with cops to keep the people from spilling out into traffic. Once we started walking down to the bund there wasn’t really any choice but to continue the next few blocks until we reached our destination.

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It was like this for a good four or five blocks.

As mentioned in An Argument In Favor Of Not Planning Ahead, if you’re planning on traveling in China try to avoid public holidays. They really increase the amount of time you’ll spend waiting in line and decrease the amount of time you’ll be able to see whatever it is you’re waiting in line for.

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The view of Pudong from the Bund. And a few of our travel buddies.

The Bund

The Bund is one of the most famous sights in Shanghai. It is located along the west bank of the Huangpu River. The Bund was once part of the international settlement and features a distinctly European architectural style. Also you can look across the river to the famous Pudong skyline, featuring Shanghai’s famous spaceship buildings.

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The Bund

The French Concession

This section of Shanghai was on my list of places to see primarily because of my interest in Chinese history. The area was a French settlement from the mid 18 to mid 1900s. It was pleasantly less crowded than Nanjing Road, and made for a nice morning stroll.

If you’re interested in a little bit of historical fiction regarding foreigners in Shanghai I’d recommend reading The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan.

Mexican Food

What? Mexican food on a list of highlights from Shanghai? Yes. Unless you’ve spent time living in a Chinese city that’s not Shanghai, it can be hard to appreciate just how rare it is to find good tacos or burritos. I live in one of the biggest cities in China and we only have two Mexican restaurants. One is good but expensive, the other is also an Irish pub (so you can guess as to the authenticity).

Mex&co by the Jingan Temple metro station delivered some seriously delicious food at a reasonable price. My burrito craving was completely satisfied.

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Everybody loves Nanjing Road!

The Maglev

Need to get to Pudong airport in a hurry? Why not catch a ride on the worlds first high speed magnetic levitation train. The train whisks you from Longyang Road metro station to the airport (30km) in under 10 minutes. We were traveling at about 300km/h, but during peak travel times the train goes up to 431km/h. While floating. If you have proof of a flight you can get a 10 kuai discount as well!

In spite of the holiday crowds we had a lot of fun during our two half days in Shanghai. The city itself struck me as being fairly clean (at least compared to Shenzhen) and open. I could frequently look up and see the sky, rather than a cage of ugly skyscrapers on all sides (again thinking of Shenzhen). If given the opportunity to return I’d certainly like to see more of the city.

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