After our family trip to the Philippines, it was time for our son and daughter-in-law to head back to work. But luckily we still had several days left of vacation for exploring shanghai before returning home.
With the current population of Shanghai being an estimated 23.9 million people – surpassing the entire population of Taiwan, apartment living is one of the more practical means of inner city housing. Our son and daughter-in-law live on the 6th floor of a very nice uptown apartment building that borders the Huangpu River.
We set out to explore this adventurous city on our own. Here is some great advice when visiting an unfamiliar city and not knowing the language. Begin by inputting the address of where you are staying into your cell phone so you can easily pull it up and show your driver. It would also be very advisable to add emergency numbers of people you know and/or staying with in the area.
We decided to catch the Metro going uptown, which is within walking distance from the apartment. Our first destinations are the People’s Square and the newly completed Shanghai Urban History Museum. From there we will buy a two day ticket and hop on the City’s Sightseeing Bus.
The People’s Square is the political and cultural center of Shanghai. Here is where the Shanghai Museum, the Municipal Hall, the underground shopping arcade and the Shanghai Grand Theater all come together. The museum (pictured right) is one of the largest in the country with a comprehensive collection of art. The giant bronze tripod shaped building establishes itself as a dignify structure in modern design.
We came upon a pleasant surprise while exploring the second floor of the Urban Planning Museum. We discovered an art exhibit called “One Family, One Way”. A collection of African Artifacts displayed by Zhao Baopei who has lived in South Africa for over 25 years. He has traveled amongst the different African tribes to collect many of their art pieces. The collection includes more than 200 artifacts that highlight the history between Africa and China.
The People’s Square includes a huge amusement park (pictured lower right) complete with carnival rides, walking trails and food vendors. We witness several groups of men playing cards with large crowds watching over them and speaking in excited tones. We assumed this was an everyday occurrence.
After spending several hours learning bits and pieces of Shanghai’s history and the upcoming urban planning for the city, we started to get pretty hungry. As being foreigners who are not very familiar with the area, we had no idea where to have lunch. We spotted a Sushi Express and decided to go for it! No one knew English, but we survived by pointing at pictures on a menu and picking up sushi rolls from the continuous passing conveyor belt of food. For convenience, we had a hot water dispenser at our table for tea. We are charged by the number of plates pulled off the revolving sushi belt and selected menu items. Both of us ate for under seven US dollars! We were pretty proud of ourselves. We decided to call it a day and head back to our kid’s high rise condo.
The next day we took Shanghai’s Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus. We choose the route that allowed us to hop on and off the bus at various locations. This lets us explore at our own pace. The tour includes audio with headphones that provide descriptive dialog in your native language. The area around The Bund and Shanghai’s prominent business district showcases its magnificent architectural beauty. However, be aware of the bothersome “Tea Hustlers” who haggle their way throw the crowds pushing their tea. My favorite place is the neighboring area around Yuyuan (pictured left and below right). It still maintains the traditional style streets of ancient China. Yuyuan’s center offers shopping, guided tours, eateries and a variety of entertainment. The buildings are antique on the outside, but thoroughly modernized inside. The area is filled with vibrant colors and a constant flow of people! We are quite the touristy attraction ourselves with many people wanting to take our picture. I would highly recommend this particular part of Shanghai for getting a real taste of tradition and celebration.
Our last full day in Shanghai is ending on a Saturday. We decided that our trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the “Black Market”. I asked myself, “How can I go home with money in my pocket?” There are several markets you can visit, but be aware that nothing being sold is authentic – no matter how hard they try to convince you its real!
Parting is such sweet sorrow. As I look out over the Huangpu River with my reflection looking back at me, I knew that I had experienced a part of the world that many will never know or understand. Nightfall descends and we reluctantly pack our bags in anticipation of our long trip back to Colorado. Of course the best part of our trip was making memories and spending time with our son and daughter-in-law. This really was a trip of a lifetime!
Author: Gay Isis
Photographer: Gay Isis
Associate Editor: Maureen Scopel
Publisher: You, Me and The Dock