A Weekend in Shanghai

Day 1:

We arrived at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport a little past midnight. While we could’ve taken the airport shuttle or a bus rightaway, we wanted to take the MagLev train (there just seemed to be something magical about riding a super fast train that levitates) so we chose to wait until 7 AM. We had breakfast at the airport KFC. In China, Colonel Sanders serves congee, hehe.

The MagLev can go up to speeds of 350 km/hour. It took us to downtown Shanghai in seven minutes.

Speedy Gonzales.

Whoosh!

We transferred trains on our way to our hostel. Tired and sleepy, we were already feeling the heat of Shanghai at this point. At the hostel, we were too early for check-in time but tried to freshen up at the receiving area, ignoring a caucasian-looking guest who kept glancing at us with disdain, humph!  We left our luggage with the hostel and walked to the financial center.

Shanghai will immediately wow you with its newness. Almost all buildings are less than five years old, each one seeming to outdo the next architecturally. Everywhere I looked, it was glass and chrome, glass and chrome. At some point, everything started to look the same.

The financial district.

The Super Brand Mall. The interior decor was obviously going for 'grand'.

The old and ornate vs. the new and sleek.

Offerings for good luck.

We went back to our hostel, freshened up and, as Corcor put it, ”felt human again”. Late afternoon saw us trudging back downtown, but this time to an older area of Pudong.

Old shopping district.

These buildings have 'character'.

This is closer to the China I know from the movies.

A row of specialty stores

This store sells nothing but tea sets, chopsticks and chopstick 'accessories'.

More chopsticks.

Fans, fans, fans. Combs, combs, combs.

More combs, hair acccessories and... basilisk fangs?

Paintings of Chairman Mao, posters of Chairman Mao, banners proclaiming loyalty to Chairman Mao.

I haggled with the storekeeper for these combs. We communicated with the help of a Casio calculator. I think it would have gotten a better price if I started at '07734'.

I wanted to stay longer here but we were to meet up with some friends at the 'glitzier' area.

Downtown Shanghai. People kept giving us advert fliers that we could not read. See that elevated pedestrian walkway ? It goes around for MILES, it seems.

The Oriental Pearl Tower. Iconic and so tacky it's almost beautiful.

A friend treated the rest of us to dinner at Din Tai Fung at the Super Brand Mall. DTF was at one time listed in the New York Times as one of the world’s Ten Best Restaurants. Ok, but the thing I remember most was that I went in there with zero skills at using chopsticks. I’m sure my friends were so embarrassed at having to ask the waiter for a fork and spoon, haha. (Call the police, an alien is on the loose!)

Din Tai Fung's famous xiaolongbao (small steamed buns). Vedy vedy good. You have to be very careful picking one up as there's broth sealed inside each dumpling.

I almost sang the praises of Chairman Mao, too.

The view from our table. This is Shanghai --- shining, shimmering, splendid.

We walked to the promenade beside the Huangpu River after dinner. This is the river that divides Shanghai into the Pudong area (where we were) and Puxi.

At the promenade on the banks of the Huangpo. That's the skyline of the Puxi region across the river.

Too bad we didn't go to Puxi. It's the older, more 'culturally authentic' area of Shanghai.

We caught the last train back to our hostel. At the subway station, we got a kick out of an ad for an in-clinic slimming treatment called extracorporeal shock wave lipolysis. Hah!

Day 2:

At the Shanghai World Expo

We were at the gates before they opened. I had a full-blown headache and was cranky, hungry and tired. Man, I must have been very good company.

Anyway, it was hot, humid, and there were people everywhere — more people walking about per square foot than I’ve ever seen. The sun was so bright I had to wear shades most of my photos were overexposed.

The Expo Main Pavilion

The pedestrian walkway. Ang init pa rin!

Latvia's. I call this The Sparkle Pavilion. Beautiful really.

Denmark Pavilion. One could borrow those bikes & cycle up that circular ramp.

The Little Mermaid inside the Denmark Pavilion. It was her 'birthday', hence the flowers.

Some of the other more interesting pavilions:

Spain’s was obviously a fire hazard and they put up No Smoking signs all around it. But we saw some security personnel lighting up just an arm’s length away from those walls.

Inside the Norway pavilion. I could have stayed inside forever. It was so cool and calming in there. Plus they gave out cards that allowed me later to download the music (Norwegian Evening) that was playing inside the pavilion.

Part of a diorama inside the Bosnia pavilion. I imagine the sad figure with the luggage looks like Adrian Brody.

Hey, it's the Philippine pavilion! With an exhibit of Filipino costumes, musical instruments and Oishi junk food!

And clearly outdone by Thailand! (*sigh*)

My favorite part of the Expo? Having two of this.

On the way back to the hostel, we saw vendors everywhere hawking fake Haibao (the Expo mascot) plush toys. They would panic and run every 30 minutes or so at the sight of the police, haha.

Later that night we went to the shopping district in Nanjing Road. Dinner was at the South Memory restaurant. My memory is of the receptionist who made me jump everytime she summoned waiting customers. South Memory serves Hunan cuisine which I believe is code for you’ll be munching on chili peppers all night with no relief or drinking water in sight. The Bikolana in me went to town.

Clams with chili peppers or chili peppers with clams?

They call it Stinky Tofu. It is.

We shopped for pasalubong in Nanjing Road. There was a store there that dates back to the 1800s. I found some stuff that took me back to my childhood (which was not in the 1800s): White Rabbit candies.

Day 3:

… was uneventful. I could no longer walk and decided against going out for last-minute shopping with the girls. We took the MagLev again back to Pudong airport, where I bought miniatures of the terracotta warriors at the duty-free shop.

Yes, General, I cheated. But the duty-free shop was still in China!

At the airport departure lounge, there was this on exhibit.

The most beautiful porcelain bowl I've ever seen. Millenia-old. Absolutely priceless.

~~~~~~~

14 thoughts on “A Weekend in Shanghai

  1. Very interesting Tita Buds… I’m heading down under to Australia and New Zealand in 2 months and supposed to meet friends in Shanghai before I head back home to New York. Now my friends cancelled their Shanghai plans and seems I will be, too. But I saw this post and I’m a little convinced and who knows, maybe I’ll still head over there by myself…

    • Thanks! We went to Shanghai at the height of summer last year so the heat was almost unbearable (we wanted to save and chose to travel during the lean season, argh). Shanghai is a really huge place and you have to do a lot of walking around, but since you’re going around January or February, it’ll be fine. 🙂

  2. Lived in Shanghai for a year (2007) and absolutely loved it. The food and culture are so amazing and so different. Now living in Sydney, and love it, but nowhere near as exciting as China.

    • Shanghai is growing so fast, I found the size of its area and population dizzying, haha. It is exciting, for sure.
      Thanks very much for taking the time to comment. 🙂

  3. nice post, but DingTai fong was a Taiwanese restaurant chain..

    therefore sing the praises to Mao would be totally wrong as the historic reason that TW broke away from China was the strugle between its leader with Mao..

    • Oh, I only meant I found it so delicious I could actually burst into ‘song’. So sorry to offend but that was the first thought that came to my mind when I was writing the caption as I used that line previously in one of the other photos. Being from the Philippines, I know the history of Taiwan & mainland China and I mean no offense (especially if you’re Taiwanese). I didn’t know DTF was a Taiwanese chain, though. I hope you can excuse this little lapse.

  4. oH..NONO! Not an offense at all…I am half Taiwanese and half English from London…

    was just pointing out that it was a Taiwanese chain…as I am also a big fan of it as well 🙂

    nice post about Shanghai as well, I did enjoy the city a lot, although sometimes felt overwhelmed by the enormity of everything.. 🙂

  5. Really nice post about Shanghai! I’m going to Beijing and Shanghai in February with my boyfriend and this made me even more excited! Thanks 🙂

    • You’re welcome. I was in Shanghai during the summer when it was uncomfortably warm. I hear winter is much, much better. Just prepare for a lot of walking. 🙂
      Thanks!

      • Yes, it is much better in winter. Just remember to pack warm clothes! The cllimate can go from boiling to freezing in just a few days!

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