After a smooth immigration in Shanghai Pudong International Airport I get stuck, trying to call the hotel for the offered free shuttle bus. After 30 minutes I give up and go to the taxi stand, but the next available driver refuses to drive me (I assume the distance to the airport hotel is too short and he cannot make enough money). The coordinator there is so kind to call my hotel and directs me towards the right exit to the shuttle bus, which by a miracle is still there. I hop on and of course meet a German couple.
I am looking very much forward to my single room with private bathroom that night as I haven’t had that luxury in at least a few of weeks or even a month.
The second I close the door two business cards are slit under the door, in case I’m interested in calling a hocker for the night. HELLO? Seems like there are lots of things I have to learn about China.
After an – let’s call it – ‘interesting’ breakfast I take the shuttle bus back to the airport and from there the 1 hour metro to my hostel. According to Google Maps (not too reliable in China, for obvious reasons) my hotel is close to the main tourist area the Bund but that is so not true, unfortunately. Thank god I took a picture of the directions in the morning and thanks to my scavenger hunt capabilities I find the hostel easily.
I take of exploring Tianzifang, a beautiful enclave of old small houses and narrow streets with lots of shops and thousands of tourists (later on I learn that there was a public holiday while I was there hence the tourist masses).
Watching the sun come down at the Bund, picture perfect Shanghai skyline, in the evening makes my first day an absolute highlight overall. Passing Nanjing Road (main shopping area) thousands of tourists are guided by police men and depending on your direction you either have to walk on the right or left sidewalk of the street.
The next day starts with a coffee at Starbucks at People Square. In the People Square Park the few cherry blossom trees are wearing their most beautiful costume. As I don’t have a Shanghai guide book I get all my sightseeing information from friends and Time Out Magazine and for Shanghai Time Out Magazine suggests a walk in the old Nongtangs, residential areas where people still live. I loved it! Once you leave the busy streets of Shanghai it feels like being in a different world and that world is just one step away. For lunch I find – what I assume is – a typical Chinese snack that looks a bit like pastry with sesame (no feeling or anything).
Online I had read that no visit of Shanghai is perfect without taking the tunnel at the bund to get to the other side. I didn’t want to take any chances, so of course went for it. I have to admit the light show and the whole presentation is so surreal that it already is funny in a way but I’d only recommend to do it when you have enough time and more or if you love odd things.
A must see for a perfect visit in Shanghai is the old town and Zigzag Bridge in my opinion and I spend a good few hours wandering around that area. Besides there is a famous dumplings shop (you cannot miss it, the line is massive usually) where you get 16 pork stuffed dumplings for 15 Yen and they are delicious. I also visit the City God Temple (10 Yen) but didn’t find it very interesting.
Back at the Bund again I treat myself to a glass of red wine at the rooftop bar POP and later on at the world famous Bar Rouge. The view from up here is from another world and I realise again how lucky I am to be on my trip.
My last day in Shanghai! I haven’t planned much, so I visit Tianzifang again for lunch in a nice Australian restaurant with an outdoor sitting area. For the rest of the day I work on a few things and get to the airport around 7:30pm to catch my flight to Tokyo. Back then I didn’t know that I would spend the next 17 hours at the airport, had to change my travel plans, sleep a night at the airport or rather not sleep and fly out to Nagoya instead of Tokyo but that’s a different story.
See you in Japan!