Shanghai, China ~ 15th – 17th September 2012
Saturday, 15th September 2012 – Hangovers…. You can’t live with them at 6.30am. I showered, repacked my bag, dressed and found some food I thought I could keep down in the breakfast hall. At 8am, I meet my fellow travel companions to board a bus to the train station were we would board a Bullet Train (1 hour) to Shanghai. On the train I sat next to Russell and slept to reduce the effects of my hangover.
Arriving at our Shanghai hotel around 11am via the Metro Train (short walk around the corner). We had an hours rest time before our Richard our leader took us out on a walking tour of the city. We visited some local street venders selling food, where I found the most yummy wraps (I continued to have these daily while in Shanghai), walking through the historical Shanghai including the Bund with its spectacular array of art deco style buildings. We went across the river to take in the sights of Pudong – the modern financial centre – with its amazing skyscrapers such as the iconic Pearl Tower. Visiting the Shanghai World Financial Centre which had the Tallest Observation Deck in the world, with the most amazing views of the city.
Our afternoon was spent sharing a coffee at Costa Coffee, and returning to the hotel to change for our final dinner together as a whole group.
Dinner was at a more upper class restaurant than we had been experiencing for the trip, yet it was only 10 yuan more than our previous dinner venues. Judy, Peter and Bea all attended the Chinese Acrobat Show after dinner. We planned to meet in the Lobby at 9.30pm for further drinks together. Laura stayed at the hotel and I wondered the main shopping street of Shanghai. Visiting Gap, Guess, Apple Store, Vera, Giordano. Along the way I stopped to watch the locals dancing in the streets and joined in occasionally with my hands full of shopping bags. While dancing I met an older man Ian, New Zealand born who was in Shanghai for business. He asked me to join him for a drink at the bar next door. We enjoyed a beer each, chatted about our travel experiences and love of China. Watching the time I said my thank you’s and goodbyes to Ian and returned to the hotel to meet the tour group.
We headed back to the Bund to take photos of the city at night, I’m so glad we returned it’s even more magical at night. Walking back to the main street, we settled in for a few drinks at one of the streets bars. Finishing up at 11.30pm.
Tonight was my first sad moment, most of us knew we would be seeing each other tomorrow, except for Russell who would fly home to the UK early in the morning, we were a family after 14 days together. Even now I miss everyone on a daily basis. Our first goodbye, and now I had no one to pick on.
Sunday, 16th September 2012 – Today was the first free day Laura and myself had to do WHATEVER we wanted, before joining our new tour group later that night for the first meeting and arrival dinner.
We had planned to meet Judy, Peter and Bea in the lobby at 9.30am to catch the train out to the French Concession for breakfast. The French Concession is the area of Shanghai once designated for the French, extremely popular shopping and dining spots for tourists. The area’s tree-lined avenues and their many Tudor mansions still retain an air of the ‘Paris of the East’. Fountain, cafe and restaurant was where we shared breakfast together, the coffee was great, the western style pancakes = amazing, and being a bit cheeky I also ordered Salmon Egg Benedict, all up costing me 138Yeun (about $16US).
After breakfast Laura and I had planned to visit the Science and Technology Station Markets to see what knock-offs were on offer. At a transfer station we had our 2nd goodbye, Bea. I’d really enjoyed getting to know Bea over the last two weeks, to me it felt like saying goodbye to a sister.
At the markets I spent $200AU on 5 handbags, 2 iPhone cases, 2 magnets, 1 awesome hat, 5 Kathy Bags, 2 Ralph Polo shirts, 2 Tourist shirts and a pair of Converse shoes. My arms… were full of bags. We returned to the hotel deciding that we wont need to visit other markets we had on our list, both of us very happy with our bargain buys! Having a late lunch at the warp food stall across from our hotel I walked the streets of Shanghai again and stopped at the Apple Store to use some free WiFi to call mum back home.
6pm came around and we were both dressed and ready for our official meeting of the new group. Visiting another upper class restaurant for dinner, we all felt a bit VIP at the venue with the new Tour leader Tommy. At dinner we meet, James and Toni, Mike and Julie, Stephen and Leslie, Basil and his father George. The group was a mixture of Australians, Germans, and British backgrounds.
After our amazing dinner, and the first time I have tried Frog, Laura, Toni, James and I caught a train out to the Yuyuan Gardens, when we arrived the shops appeared to be closing, we walked through the park where locals ballroom danced and sang karaoke on the streets with TV’s and microphones set up.
Monday, 17th September 2012 – Waking up at 7.30am we met Peter and Judy in the lobby for another trip out to the French concession for breakfast, taking a quick taxi ride. We visited Fountain again and enjoyed a Big Breakfast (the works) with coffee.
While walking to Peoples Square to visit the Shanghai Museum I stumped upon a H&M Store, purchasing 4 dresses and 3 shirts for a total of $75US. Poor Peter having to wait for us to do our ‘girly thing’.
Visiting the museum and its many displays, the place was to big to complete in one day and therefore we only visited 2 levels of the complex, both Laura and I were tired and returned back to the hotel via taxi.
Judy knocked on our door at 3:30pm prompting a hobo party, visiting the convenience store across the street for a few bottles of beer each. Judy and Laura watched me attempt to pack my new purchases into my already exploding luggage. It was clear…. I must not buy anything else!
6.00pm we met with the new tour group to catch the train at peak hour (very squishy) to the Acrobat Show. The show included performances in Tight Rope, Bike balance, high jumps, rope jumps, hula hoop, flexibility, motor cross in the ball of death, clowns and juggling.
Tonight was our final night of our extended stay in Shanghai. It’s a city I haven’t fully explored, and a lot of the time I felt like I was at home in Brisbane, Australia.