Highly influential for economic and financial trade, Shanghai is famous for its tall buildings, quality cuisine and is known by shopaholics as the “Oriental Paris”, but how would you choose to spend two days in this international metropolis?
Speaking of silk ...
Silk is huge in Shanghai, it’s so popular, our hotel used it in all their bedrooms. We had the opportunity to visit a silk museum and shop to see the different stages of the 50-60 day life cycle of a silk worm and how the silk is extracted and made.
Single cocoons are used to make clothing, scarfs and many of the finer type material whereas the double cocoons are separated and stretched by hand to make blankets and pillows. Silk is thin but very strong but by jove, it’s gorgeously soft. 8 single cocoons make 1 scarf but to make a double duvet it will take 6,000 double cocoons. 2,500g = 12 tog duvet and cost 2,500RMB (approx £280/$375 US for a king size).
Whilst in Shanghai, you should take the time to check out Yu Garden. This 400-year old Ming-Dynasty garden has beautiful rock formations, lakes, amazingly ornate doorways, Chinese pagodas, and koi carp filled ponds. It’s not a place you will stumble upon as it’s in the middle of a market place off the old shanghai street but it’s well worth a visit. It’s a peaceful oasis and a contrast to the busy streets outside, a lovely place to meander around.
Back home, we aren’t shoppers so this area didn’t hold our interest at all but sometimes in life you have to suffer the little things for good timing ... and that is exactly what happened to us!
We walked from Nanjing Road into the Bund, a waterfront area the East Side of the Huang Pu River. Now this was the Shanghai we were waiting for! The concentration of ridiculously high sky-scrapers on a little island looked almost pretty, mainly because of the variety.
The sun was just setting, leaving a beautiful orange and pink hue in the sky whilst shining onto the buildings… we were able to marvel at the iconic skyscraper landscape close to its best. The light reflected onto the river as we watched the large ships pass by – it was wonderful!
The Oriental Pearl Tower was fantastic experience and without a doubt the highlight of our City tour! The perfect way to end our first day in Shanghai and we went to bed feeling as though we had really had a sense of what Shanghai has to offer.
Zhu-jia-jiao – “Venice of China”
About an hour out of the City is a lovely water village unspoiled for hundreds of years called Zhu-Jia-Jiao. On the journey, we noticed hundreds of skyscrapers all over Shanghai even though we were no longer in the centre. I noted that at any one time, there were approximately 30 sky scrapers around us, all at least 20+ floors high made up of offices, apartments and shopping malls – they loooooove their shopping here, in fact we had three skyscraper malls by our hotel. They have a football/concert stadium which can hold 80,000 people but it looked so small in amongst all the tall buildings.
The village of Zhu-jia-jiao was lovely and quaint with charming humpbacked bridges not too dissimilar to the Bridge of Sighs in Venice. We wandered through the little shops selling everything from snacks to fans to chopsticks and anything souvenir related – all at cheap prices as well! We enjoyed the slow pace of this village but we wanted to see it from the water so jumped in a boat for a 20-minute trip down the river. It was so beautiful, we loved every second of it – such a contrast to the hectic big city but then again, we are country folk and proud of it!
The Maglev (magnetic levitation) is the first commercially operated train of its kind in the world and is also the fastest operational train. It is powered by magnets and levitates above the track (hence the name) and reaches speeds of up to 430km during rush hour. It was engineered by the Germans but the Chinese bought it at a cost of 1.3 billion dollars.
We caught this futuristic train from Shanghai centre to the airport and watched the city whizzing smoothly by – it was very exciting, it’s just a shame the journey lasted only eight minutes but that’s how quickly it will cover 18 miles when you are travelling at 301km.
Lunch was a bit of a highlight, not for the venue but the taste! It was a restaurant for locals which didn’t look anything special, but the pork dipped in sugar then wrapped in bamboo and cooked was delicious!
When wandering around the village earlier, we had watched a little old lady hand making and cooking these bundles of yummy-ness which had whet our appetite.
I would absolutely recommend a day-trip to this beautiful place and get a feel for the calmer side of Shanghai.
This train sums up Shanghai – fast, futuristic and an experience that should be encountered at least once!
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