Shanghai has never really been a city I’ve loved, but alas, it’s a place of heritage for my family. (and thus I get lots of red packets…) The city has become China’s economic and cultural centre, and recently featured in the latest Bond movie Skyfall as well as the Looper where China is the place to be come fifty or-so years… For my friend and I, this was just a five-night stop-over from Hong Kong to Japan because it was part of our flight deal.
This is a brief post describing the sights we saw during our brief stay in China’s largest city mid-January.
Last time I was here, was for the 2010 World Expo. And I hated it… (More the Expo, rather than the city itself) Crowds and five hour queues to spend less than half-an-hour in a pavilion and get your “Expo Passport” stamped?
Anyway, some of the original pavilions are still standing. Above; the China Pavilion has become their flagship Art and History museum. Pretty much everything in there is in Chinese, and I had no idea how to get to the top floors where “the amazing things” are. The former World Expo site is also surrounded by fences and the lack of signage makes it very unfriendly for tourists who don’t know the area/speak mandarin. (Me)
One thing I do love though, are the supertall skyscrapers of Lujiazui, in the Pudong district that are so heavy, that it’s causing the city to slowly sink. The three pictured above are (from left to right) the Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC, 492m tall), Jin Mao Tower (421m), and the to-be-completed Shanghai Tower, which will be taller than the other two once topped-out late this year (632m).
Seeing as it was a clear day (by Shanghai standards), we went up the SWFC to the top-observation floor. (my 2nd visit, as well as it being the 2nd highest observation deck in the world) The all glass walls and floor makes the view truly impressive.
Normally, you’d struggle to get a clear view of anything beyond the river below.
A trip to the Shanghai Museum and Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall in People’s Square is well worth a visit. The Museum displays a large number of artefacts and historical pieces, and the Urban Planning Hall gives an insight to the future aspirations this city has in terms of development, and the environment. (The HUGE scale model of the Shanghai Metropolis is truly amazing)
A visit to Shanghai’s “Madame Tussauds“. (I’ll be honest, apart from his speeches, what makes Obama so popular?)
Of the half-dozen times I’ve visited Shanghai, I had never been to “the original Shanghai” – Yuyuan. With all the large residential and commercial developments in this city, this is one of very few sites within the metropolis that give an insight as to how the city once looked.
Unfortunately, the place is increasingly being commercialised, with chain-clothing and jewelry stores occupying one end of the site… The “street food” this place used to be renowned for has now become sub-standard according to my relatives, but at least one place is still good.
(This place was also featured in the anime CANAAN where Maria just cannot stop saying “Sugoi!”)
The Shanghai specialty: Xiaolongbao. (Essentially steamed dumplings)
We ordered A LOT of these here in Yuyuan. (due to minimum spending requirements enforced by the restaurant) Overall, during my stay I had way too many of them while I was here. I’m kinda sick of them now. XD
One of the few things I look forward to every time I visit Shanghai, is the HUGE fish head soup we sometimes have.
There were a lot of sights we didn’t visit on this stop-over, primarily Xintiandi Entertainment district and Huahai Road (which I remember not recognising when I was here in 2010 because of all the new developments) That said, there were also more places visited during our five-night stay than what I’ve posted above, but I am too cautious of the Chinese people to take my camera out. It’s a bit of a shame how I don’t trust the people of my own race in what is essentially the city of my family’s origins, which has become a major player on “The World Stage”. I guess it doesn’t help that I don’t speak Mandarin despite my race, and it’s probably one of the reasons why I don’t like Mainland China. I’ve always thought (and still do believe) that Shanghai has just too many people, and it’s people are just not “civilised” enough. I’m making broad generalisations here, but the bottom line here, is that this is a not a city (or country) I’d like to live in, though I know there are plenty of people in the world who absolutely love this city, and have better opinions about this place than I do.
Regardless, it’s more than likely I’ll be back next year for two reasons: Grandparent’s birthday, and the completion of the Shanghai Tower. XD