The Inspiration Behind Bjork's Grammy Dress
One of the local customs that I am getting used to in Shanghai (and I would assume elsewhere within China) is the display of fully plucked geese (or ducks) outside of shops as seen in the picture to your left.
I still haven't figured out why the birds are outside on a clothesline where pollution, insects, and other elements can take their toll. Nevertheless, like clothes hanging outside in the middle of the winter (or any time of the year) the hanging of geese is definitely classified as a local custom in Shanghai.
Overnight train from Shanghai to Beijing
I arranged to take the overnight train from Shanghai to Beijing through www.chinatripadvisor.com. I asked for a Deluxe Soft Sleeper on the Z14 train, total cost was $137. I paid $55 down over the internet. Then I paid the rest in RMB to the person who delivered my ticket to me at my hotel in Shanghai. I had arranged for the person to deliver my ticket at a certain time and they were late and left me waiting around. However, reserving on line was convenient! The Z14 is supposed to be the newer train, but the ticket that I got was for the Z22 train. It was still clean and acceptable. My worry, being a woman traveling alone, was that the Deluxe Soft Sleeper is a cabin for two! However, as the train pulled out of the station, I was the only one in the cabin. I went into the dining car and had dinner, went back to my cabin, got into my jammies and read until I was rocked to sleep by the train. (Thre is Chinese tv in the cabin.) The train leaves Shanghai at about 7 p.m. and arrives in Beijing at about 7 a.m. It was a convenient way to travel. The only hassel was battling the non-que for a taxi after leaving the train station in Beijing.
Best view in the world - Oriental Pearl Tower
I think the highlight of our visit to Shanghai was going to the 3 main towers in Pudong. The Oriental Pearl Tower, the Jin Mao Tower and the new Shanghai World Financial Centre are all indeed quite mind-blowing to look at and to look out from.
Our first one to conquer was the Oriental Pearl Tower. The weather was not perfect, it was overcast with light rain, but we figured we needed to get some of these attractions done before we ran out of time, even if we did do them in the rain. We were showered and ready to roll by 8.30am. Our first big adventure would include the Bund Tourist Tunnel. Oriental Pearl Tower, Superbrand Mall and SWFC.
The Tourist Tunnel was amusing, and somewhat tacky and overpriced, but I think you've just gotta do it, but only once! Entrance cost to the tourist tunnel was 50rmb return. At this stage the rain was really starting to annoy me, especially as my Australian umbrella (made in China of course!) broke today and I had to purchase a new one!
The views we had from the OPT were outstanding, very clear and I took some great pics from up there. We opted to pay the 100rmb ticket which takes you about 3/4 of the way up. You firstly go to one level which has all-round views, then as we were trying to find our way out, we had to go down one more level ... to the best views by far! We had no idea that there was a glass-bottomed floor at the OPT - BUT THERE IS! At first, I was petrified and I was actually crawling on the floor, I found it a bit too overwhelming to actually walk on it, having an immense fear of heights. But, after a while, it was ok, and we stayed on this level for about an hour, taking photos and just generally watching everyone else freaking out about the glass-bottom floor - that was fun! This viewing deck with the glass bottom floor was only completed in May 2009.
No visit to Shanghai is complete without a trip to the Oriental Pearl Tower. The OPT is 468 metres high and it is the 3rd tallest TV Tower in the world. It is open from 8am-11pm and was completed in 1995
Walk along the Bund
The Bund is a row of buildings along the western shore of the Huangpu river that were built by the British during the early part of the 20th century. These buildings served as the headquarters of some of the most powerful trading companies in China. Many Americans will recognize the buildings from the movie "Empire of the Sun". Amazingly, these buildings survived the Cultural Revolution, and are still intact. You can't go into them, but they are still interesting to see, and the walk along the riverbank across the street from the Bund's buildings also gives you a great view of the modern skyscrapers across the river in the Pudong district.
Shanghai - the Oriental Paris
Shanghai has always been a unique place in China. When a Chinese asks how New York City looks like, he/she often would get an answer from those who know both places well 'nothing too different from Shanghai'.
Many people visit Shanghai for its modern atmosphere, while others, exploring/searching for its past. In the PAST, when Hong Kong was still a small fishing village, Dame Shanghai was the Paris in the east, the Oriental Pearl. Its life styles (see old photos of Shanghai in travelogue later), culture and business development environment was insuperable by its Chinese peers.
Shanghai is among the most, if not the most, open-minded places in China. Shanghai people have the tradition of among the first to be aware anything new in the world, and adopt the new ideas fastest to their daily life. Shanghai peoples?lifestyle has been deeply influenced from the west (partly from their past colonial time) among their Chinese peers (Hong Kong is a different story).
That's why Shanghai developed as it is now, and that is why people need to pay attention to how it has been developed for the past 200+ years. Both from a small village, Shanghai’s history is indeed rather different from that of Shenzhen, Shanghai has a rich history.
The business environment is among the best in China as well (less bureaucrats etc). Since 1949, Shanghai has kept its top rank of GDP in the whole PRC for decades (not sure for now though).
The most touristy place of Shanghai would be the bund, the bank of the Huang Hu River. At the bund, many many old western style buildings still stand still dandy, showing to the world their grand and proud (or not so proud) history.
Other interesting places would be used-to-be colonial "foreign territories", where one can find western churches, residential areas.
Traditional Shanghai residential architecture areas, the so-called shi2 ku4 men2 long4 tang2.
Of course, no one could by pass the Yu Yuan Garden and Cheng Huang Miao traditional shopping streets.
For modern things, Shanghai has some world-class museums in China.
For nature lovers, Shanghai is not the best place to be. However, a short trip can take you to
1) Huangshan Mountain area national park (see Huangshan, Anhui sheng page) and the Hui culture villages/area nearby (See Xidi, Anhui sheng page)
2) Hangzhou (build along the Xi Hu - "West" Lake, see Hangzhou, Zhejiang sheng page)
3) Suzhou (with classical traditional private gardens, yet, different from royal gardens in Beijing); also a water town (oriental Venice, see Suzhou, Jiangsu sheng page)
4) Tai Hu Lake area (Wu Xi)
5) Watertowns such as Zhou Zhuang, Tong Li (see Tongli, Jiangsu sheng page), to name a few the most popular thus very toursity, and quiet ones like Xi Tang (see Xitang, Zhejiang sheng page), and Zhu Jian Jiao, Luzhi, Mudu, Nanxun, Wuzhen etc
More information/photos related to Shanghai will be added later.
REVISIT, September, 2002
I have been to Shanghai many times, but last time was October, 1995 when the new financial district was under construction.
This year, we will explore something old as well as something new. And meet a fine girl there!