Chenghuang Temple is a must-see and experience in Shanghai. I enjoyed the interesting gift and souvenir shops as well as the great variety of food options here. The delicious Nanxiang Xiao Long Bao (steamed dumplings) filled with soup were very special. There was also a large food court which was really an eye-opener. There were so many Chinese dishes here, hot or cold, that you could grab and go. The architecture at the Chenghuang Temple was also pretty amazing.
There are many stores outside of Yu Garden. Local will call the place Shanghai Old Street. There are alot of shops selling Chinese handicrafts at reasonal prices compare to Xiang Yang market. Handicrafts, toys, children clothes (chinese costume), pearls, local snacks
Top 50 Restaurant in the World
T8 is a Western-style restaurant and when you are inside, you won't know if you are at one of the finest restaurants in Los Angeles, New York, London, Sydney, or Tokyo.
Last year, it was named one of the Top 50 Restaurants in the World by Conde Nast magazine (the only restaurant in China that made the list).
The decor is minimalist, but T8 is very warm and inviting. You can either sit in the large room (compared to the other rooms) that include an open kitchen to watch the chefs in action, or you can choose a more secluded table in one of the many semi-secluded nooks around the main room.
The food and service are superb, the wine list is good (a business associate complained that there weren't enough California or French wines on the menu), and the prices are steep.
If you are on an expense account, or if you want to be pampered with great food and service, you'll love T8. If you are looking for a more local experience, absolutely do not come here. The menu changes regularly. I love the fresh fish dishes and have not had a bad meal even when I opted for a meat entree.
They used to have a fantastic caesar salad, but for some reason, it is no longer on the menu....
I like the cluster of cultural buidings in the People's Square, the Museum, the Opera House and so on.They were built less than 10 years ago, all wonderfully styled. The French architect Chapentier designed this neo-Oriental buidling, with glasses on all sides which glitter like crystal at night, and a roof top taking a traditional Chinese roofing finish. Read my General tips for some nostalgic report of the local culture venues too.
I used to think of China as a totally different realm where living and lifestyles would be very different from what I've been used to...
I suppose it was due to a lack of awareness and perhaps, the stereotypical feedback I got from a lot of people...
After all, China's supposed to be a Communist country and things like the Tiananmen Square incident just happened not too long ago.
So it was with a bit of apprehension that I took my first steps in this country...
a bit hesitant and wary
not quite sure what to expect
but decidedly certain that I would be open to whatever came along --
for after all, I could listen to a dozen and more people's impressions but what matters is my own perception of the situation.
I arrived in Pudong Airport on a cold, winter's afternoon...
feeling almost homesick and excited at the same time. I was greeted with the massive crowds at the Customs and I don't quite recall how I picked up my bags from the baggage carousel and walked out of the Arrival Gates...
Suddenly, I'd arrived in Shanghai!
And the driver was there, standing inconspicuously near the exit... Without a word, he took my bags and gestured for me to follow him to the carpark where the taxi was parked.
And thus began my long ride into the city where the dreary winter dusk sky was further greyed by the smoke from the cars in the long jammed roads...
of course, it was freezing too... the only jacket that I had on was not proof enough for the winter air that incissors into your body...
"A warm meal"
The ride took almost forever on roads that I didn't know...
Road signs in Chinese and English were helpful -- my poor recognition of Chinese letters were aided by the English words... I was immediately thankful and made a mental note to start learning or re-learning Chinese words. I decided, I'd better learn to read... ;)
We arrived at this tourist-class hotel called Jin Jiang An Shuen Dian. The Jin Jiang Hotel chain, which I learned of later, is a huge chain, and they have different classes of rooms and hotels... The one that I was in was definitely catered for the most basic of travellers.
I was dismayed at how spartan my accomodations were...
But realised that they were after all, just very functional and I could do without the frills.
The first night I was shivering in my hard bed.
I didn't realise that the air-conditioner unit was also the heater...
But the good thing about that first night was my friend Juliana who came by when she heard that I'd arrived and had no dinner. She said, no no... you must have a hot meal the first night you're here. I'd come and take you out for dinner.
So that's what she did... she brought me to Bellagio's -- a Taiwanese chain restaurant -- and I had hot food that was suddenly so comforting... and delicious Peanut Ice dessert! :)
I was definitely comforted.
Thank you Juliana for taking care of me when I first arrived!
She also provided me with very important information about buying International Calling cards from the shops... For me to call back to Singapore, I could buy this card called the IP card or otherwise known by the numbers 17968 for you dial this name to access the system. Anyway, the card value is 100rmb but you should get 3 cards when you pay 100rmb.
This was such valuable information.
My friend who wasn't told this, has been paying 100rmb for each card since she's been here last September! She burst out crying when I told her... :[
The next day I woke up cold and was met by Selina from the School to take me to the school... after all, I had lessons that very afternoon!!!
I barely had time to prepare but was thankful that when I walked into the office, a friendly Laura greeted me! :)
Our photo's the one in the first page.
Anyway, somehow, I managed to figure out what to do and passed the 1st lesson for the week without much hassle or scrape.
"The 1st week"
I was busy from the word go!
I had to settle my housing arrangements within the week and so, that started my super-stressful week running around looking at a host of apartments, going to the bank to open my account, buying a phone card...
Anyway, I had the help of Hu Lao Shi.
Hu Lao Shi is an old man who was a friend's friend's ex-teacher. Yup... that's like 2 degrees away.
He's in his 60's and is a local. He was very helpful in following me to check out some of the apartments for rent near the school...
Housing in Shanghai's as varied as anywhere...
I saw walk up ones the size of a hovel costing 3200rmb because of its location... (it was a hovel too). And I saw walk up ones that had 6 units on the same corridor with the kitchen exhaust vent pouring out onto the corridor -- not only could I smell what my would-be neighbours were cooking for dinner, I smelt like dinner after walking past the corridor!
Without a doubt, this didn't go very well with me.
I'm just not used to living in such close quarters... yes, even though our HDB flats are very tightly knit in terms of space, at least, it's better designed and doesn't seem dark or dirty. Mind you, the apartments I went to see were really quite old.
So... the mission now was to find me a nice, new and clean apartment...
And Hu Lao Shi, once he figured out what I wanted, went out on his own to help me search for a suitable place.
He found the apartment that I'm presently living in... :)
He said that once he found it, he was sure that I'd be happy with it.
True enough, he understood exactly what I needed...
I immediately took the apartment -- saw it on Saturday morning, and signed for it on Sunday morning... moved in on Sunday evening.
It's a neat place to live in!