Let's see ... my China trip started in Beijing, where I visited the Forbidden City once more, Beihai Park, and walked the Great Wall section at Mutianyu.
Beijing may be the capital, but the commercial heart of China is Shanghai, my next destination. I was quite keen to try and put a finger on the pulse of the Chinese economy in Shanghai, just to understand for myself what the hype is all about ...
As usual, I'll let the pictures do most of the talking on my little excursions while in Shanghai.
The City God of Shanghai, incidentally, happens to be ... would you have guessed it ... the God of Prosperity. No wonder Shanghainese are so rich ... I happened to stumble upon its temple while taking a little walk around the Old section of Shanghai ..
China may be communists, but there certainly isn't any shortage of worshippers everywhere I went into ...
For folks like me who isn't really into shopping, this part of Shanghai, the Yuyuan Gardens, and Shanghai Old Street would definately be the place to visit. The famous 9 Zig-Zag bridge is within the compound of the Yuyuan Gardens.
Yuyuan is a beautiful Chinese garden, formerly owned by an administrator in the city. There are plenty of ponds, lanscaped terraces, and loads of water. Shanghai is located in a region called Zhiangnan (literal: River's South), which is the lower reaches of the Yangtze River delta. There are many rivers and lakes in this area, and thus, water is a prominent feature of gardens here.
Shanghai Old Street is a street lined with antiques and souvenir stores of all sorts. It's not a very pedestrian friendly place, but it's worth a visit just to feel the vibe of the whole place. The old hutong style buildings are restored and renovated into a touristy road full of shops.
Inside Yuyuan, there are some very famous shops selling food, and I chanced upon this one ... the queue itself is at least 45 minutes long all day long, so you just have to be patient ...
And here's what the queue is all about ... Shanghai Xiao Long Bao, the famous dumplings with crab meat and crab roe. This shop was selling a dozen dumplings for 16 yuans (RM8). Not bad, though the skin's a bit on the thick side.
Good news is that Yuyuan and Shanghai Old Street is literally next to each other, so you don't really need any transportation between the two places.
Not far from the Yuyuan and Shanghai Old Stree, just around 15 minutes by taxi, is the world famous Shanghai Bund. It's a riverside esplanade by the Huangpu river. You've gotta come here for the lights and sights at night. Pictures don't do it justice ! It's such an overwhelming sensory experience !
The lights come on at around 7.30 in the evening, so don't be a jakun like me and turn up at 6pm, and just wait and wait and wait for the lights. Also, lights go off around 10pm on weekdays, and a little later on weekends, so don't turn up too late as well !
Was the wait worth it? Oh yeah ... the lights came on to reveal the world famous Bund facades, and you also get the view of Puxi, across the river, where all the skyscrapers are. The only blip is that the weather was quite hazy, and it was very, very, chilly as well. To think that I actually had an ice cream outdoors =P
And not far from the Bund, just a 10 minute walk, is Nanjing Dong Lu (Nanjing East Road), the famous pedestrian shopping strip in Shanghai. Not a shopping person, I just walked around admiring the neon signs, and stayed long enough to get myself some Olympic souvenirs - something my father told me not to come home without !
Another place worthy of a visit is Xintiandi, a posh entertainment area in the style of Bangsar. Xintiandi is right behind my office =). Formerly an area within the French concessionaire, it features pubs, restaurants and chill out places housed in former colonial buildings.
What I found really cool was walking in the narrow lanes amongst the old facade, and discovering pubs with minimalist designs, or restaurants that won't look out of place in Paris or New York inside. And the food's pretty decent as well !
And that's my walkabout in Shanghai ! What's there not to like ? From the little alleys (that aren't touristy) to the tourist traps of Yuyuan Garden and Shanghai Old Street, there's something for everyone. Like everywhere else in China, there are so many domestic tourists you sometimes feel crowded and sick of it all. Try to be early to avoid crowds, and if you can't, why not just enjoy it ? Just be prepared to be asked to help take lots of photos, especially if you carry a big camera like me ...
And oh, on a totally unrelated note =) ... I registered my 10,000th shutter count on my D80 in Shanghai, taking this nondescript photo.