To maximise the 4-day trip, we took overnight flights both ways. But we were so tired on arrival despite sleeping on the flight that we slept until noon - glad that we could check in at 8am..
Woke hungry and headed for Macs (!) before walking down 南京路 (Nanjing Road) for 人民公园 (People’s Park)..
It was a happening shopping street but when we took a turn into one of the sidewalks, this was what greeted us - an interesting clash of cultures
Turned out that we walked the wrong direction and ended up instead at the start of the Nanjing Road pedestrian walkway.
We carried on to 和平饭店 (Peace Hotel) but unfortunately it was closed for renovation.. Took a picture anyway :p
So we took a leisurely stroll down the Bund, snapped a few shots
Looks so fake right?
But it's real! We're there!
At some point, we decided to walk elsewhere and came across a park that we couldn’t find on the map given by the tour agency. However, from the park description, we wandered into some old streets on the other end of the park and found 城隍庙 (Old City Temple)!
Outside the temple was a maze of old temple-ish buildings and walkways, which we explored slowly. Towards the end of the day, we queued 30min for 蟹肉小笼包 at RMB10 per basket of 16! Eight in Singapore would cost S$8? Very happy, very yummy...
Not knowing the way, we cabbed back to drop our shopping bags before going for dinner near our hotel, 中福大酒店, which was very centrally located. Dinner was at an average local diner. Ended our day with a foot bath and massage behind our hotel - it was good! Where we were soaking our feet, they massaged our backs, then our feet. The therapists were quite chatty, saying that Sito looked local while I spoke like a Taiwanese.. So funny, Sito looked Korean while in Korea, Japanese while in Japan and now he looked Chinese while in China!! :p
Had to wake early for breakfast in the hotel before the day tour the next day. Our tour guide 小全 told us stories while driver 王师傅 drove on silently. One was a funny tale of some angmoh journalists trying to bully Deng Xiao Ping, who couldn’t speak English:
Journalist 1: What is the capital of the US?
DXP, thinking that they must be asking about his surname: 我姓邓
Journalist 2: What is the key propellant of China’s growth?
DXP, thinking that they must be asking about his first name now: 小平，小平! (sounds like shopping!)
Journalist 3, trying to provoke him about Taiwan: Who is the current President in Taiwan?
DXP, starting to feel irritated that they were still speaking to him in English while his translator wasn’t around: 等会儿!
Journalist 4, trying to do the same: Who will be the next president of Taiwan?
DXP, frustrated: 随便，随便!
First stop was shopping at the temple streets, but since we were there it already, we headed straight for the temple itself, which was closed by the time we reached it the day before. It was a small Taoist temple..
I like this sign.. Can you see? It says 不由人算
We crossed 九曲桥, which was too crowded when we were first there
Saw an old man fanning himself
Next was the 宋庆龄陵园 (Soong Ching Long Mausoleum). Spent some time in the gallery looking at her life story. The Soong sisters had very interesting lives; maybe I should go read more..
Happy signs, not warning signs
We were then brought to a souvenir area where a guy talked to us about feng shui. The group consisted of just us and another Singaporean couple. So he mentioned the feng shui of some buildings and events in Singapore, e.g. the OUB building and the opening of the UOB building, which kind of led to the fate of the two. He brought us to a showroom of 天禄, or pi qiu (don’t know the characters!) as they are more commonly called in China, or at least Shanghai; I know them as天禄 from my Taiwan trip two years ago. His teacher showed face for a while to “read” our names, quite accurately I thought, and recommended two palm-sized天禄 for Sito and me. He left his disciple to do the selling but we thought the kiddo wasn’t “real”. Nonetheless, it was quite an interesting experience.
Lunch was at 傣家村 (Dai Jia Chun), which served Yunnan food along with traditional performances. Some nine dishes for four of us, quite filling.. Left for some shopping at 七蒲路 (Qipu Road) but didn’t buy anything. I tried a dress; it didn’t suit me but the trying experience was new - instead of changing in a fitting room, the lady pulled a piece of cloth across the shop and I just changed behind it, exposing head and calves!!
Went to 新天地 (Xintiandi) to look-see. Should be quite a happening place at night.. Outside was where the Communist Party had its first meeting
With time to spare, 小全 brought us to some 养生 centre and a pearl research institute. At the first place, we had a foot soak in some hot herbal water before a gentle foot massage while a TCM practitioner diagnosed my ills, apparently liver and blood, and recommended some medicine in capsule forms, at a few hundred SGD a month for a 3-month supply. Um, no thanks.. I knew my decision was right when he let another chap took over to diagnose Sito; they had the exact same introduction of “a hospital will tell you that you are ok but we can see that you have this and that..” When they left, we had a good chat with the cute, young therapists who were TCM interns from Guangzhou and Yunnan.
The pearl place was less cute; the guy pried open an oyster, killing it instantly to remove a pearl to show us =( I mean, I eat scallops, but I eat those already killed, never mind that they are killed to cater to tastebuds.. But to see something killed for a demonstration, I don’t want..
Dinner was early, on a boat, again consisting of many dishes but we enjoyed this a lot more than the lunch. The restaurant was right under the bridge; name has a typo.. Um, Chinese typo :p
We then went to the Bund for a short walk before taking the 7pm cruise of 黄浦江. Got ourselves a table and enjoyed the night scene. Apparently, electric bills after 6pm are government-paid so that people would put on the lights. Big buildings on the Pudong side had walls that played advertisements, including one that said, “做一个可爱的上海人” =)
The Pearl of the Orient was very pretty at night too.. On the journey back, we were treated to the lights on the Puxi side. The Bund! Exciting vibes but quite unlike what we have in Boat Quay and Clarke Quay..
The colours were so different at night
We went back to the hotel for a short rest before roaming Nanjing Road - it was so different at night!!
Spent S$1 at an arcade before some shopping. Walked for quite a while before settling for supper at a little eatery off Nanjing Road. Ordered spring onion pancake, fried dumplings, soup dumplings, soup noodles.. We ate so much! =D
Crashed when we got back and missed the hotel breakfast the next day, only to eat more for the rest of the day! Breakfast was at 吴大娘饺子 along Nanjing Road, 18 dumplings, a grilled sausage and a kebab stick between the two of us; lunch, barely two hours later, comprised 16 小笼包 and fried noodles in People’s Park; tea was ice cream; dinner was an elaborate BBQ affair in Raffles City, which kept us filled, i.e. no supper :p
This shows me getting fat
Our first non-food stop of the day was 上海书城, where we got some books at a fraction of Singapore price. But I didn’t manage to find the two classics I wanted, or rather, they didn’t have the version I wanted.
Raffles City near one end of Nanjing Road and People’s Park was so happening! There seemed to be some sort of a national contest and the fans were persuading passers-by to vote for their idols via sms; one girl asked me to vote even though I told her I wasn’t local..
Roamed People’s Park for a while, and found a pathway filled with middle-aged people. The A4 sheets hanging from trees and walls all read something like: XXX, female, 27, friendly and gentle, looking for guy who likes to play sports, etc etc! We talked to a couple who told us that it was a ground-up 招亲 event, initiated by the parents for their children to find a partner. How very interesting!
Visited the Shanghai Museum after that, quite nice, and quite funny at the end when Sito was recognising the various Chinese calligraphy fonts :) Walked through a 1930s street as we headed to Raffles City for some shopping. Walked out of Uniqlo with plenty of spoils, straight into the BBQ buffet, which left us so full we crashed very early..
And missed the hotel breakfast again, not that we were hungry! Watched Wedding Crashers - very funny and the girl was so pretty! - until 1pm when we had to check out. Then it was a very filling and yummy lunch of soup noodles before crossing over to the Pudong side via the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, which we felt were quite a rip-off; what sights?!
What we liked was the Pearl of Orient; we spent such a long time in there!
First we went up to catch the views.. Then we went to some space level where we had some fun making planets bounce on a flat screen on the floor :p
Ok, a bit scary! :p
And finally we visited the Shanghai History Museum on the ground floor, which was very fun! We spent such a long time in there.. Reminded me of the Chinatown Heritage Centre, which I visited twice.
We thought we should take their MRT for fun, and so we did. But it was a nightmare getting to the station. The area was full of zebra crossings and no traffic lights. Near our hotel, it was terrible enough; turning cars did not always give way to pedestrians. Now without lights, the cars just didn’t want to give way! We decided that it was a matter of “balls of steel” - must be assertive to make cars stop for you!! After all, the drivers were only “balls covered in steel” :p
Made it back to Nanjing Road just in time for dinner at 燕云楼, where we had Peking duck, braised tofu, vegetables, black pepper steak, sour and spicy soup, and noodles. At one point, the chap taking our orders went, “how many of you??” :p But we finished most of the stuff! Very proud of ourselves :)
Final stop in Shanghai was the foot massage place. This time, we went for full body massage. When she was doing my back with her knees (KNEES!), I could feel my dinner *.*
It was a good flight back, slept a little, watched a bit of 200-Pound Beauty before touch-down, quite funny and the girl was so pretty! :) Last note: stewardess was very kind to offer me a box of tissue when she saw me sniffing during take-off, and she remembered to ask after my nose as I left the plane.. What a nice ending to a relaxing holiday!
Flight, accom, day tour: $992
Cash spending: RMB1,500=$300
Plastic burnt: $380
Total damage: $1,672
Oops, slightly more than my target of $1,500.. But it was so enjoyable! :)