Our trip to Shanghai was truly one of those amazing adventure journeys that had us guessing, reading maps with no data, asking for help, walking for hours, being grumpy and then being extremely overjoyed when we set eyes on our beautiful destinations.
Due to an early morning Monday flight from Hong Kong, we decided to take our second ferry back to Hong Kong on Sunday evening and enjoy dinner at a local street food place at Temple Street Market. Ironically called Shanghai street to add to the spirit of the trip.
Our delayed 9h30 flight (now 10:15) had us up in the air with China Eastern Airlines – not the greatest inflight food I must add plus delayed flights seem to be a thing! 2 and a half hours later we arrive to probably the quietest passport control area I have ever gone through with not a smiley face in sight yet.
There are a few lessons one must learn when traveling and when it comes to buying a sim card in a country that is known for not having outside internet access make sure you don’t get hustled. WE GOT HUSTLED. We bought a sim card that was over priced with a VPN that only worked outside the first day and the rest of the time in WIFI. Look at a few mobile shops if you can when you arrive and compare prices, from friends who live in China they all use China Mobile and downloaded a VPN before landing. BUT let me say that we are proof that you can succeed without it! We did it so can you! When in WIFI we did all our research, got all the info needed and thank goodness for Enslin’s map reading abilities we looked at our offline location to gather the correct way.
Shanghai in my opinion is not a foreigner friendly place, yes it’s a leading country in many aspects with so many tourist areas but besides the English signs in the subway there aren’t many easy found directions for you to go by. We honestly asked so many people for assistance in directions which thankfully they all did, smiles or no smiles, but still at least we were helped.
Shanghai is a beautiful city, with so many wonderful sights to discover and I am so glad we found what we did in our 4 day visit.
Travel tip – from Pudong airport into the city – there is an express Maglev train and the regular subway. If you are not in a hurry take the subway, it is cheaper.
The subway is naturally a fast economical way of traveling, instead of buying a train card we opted to buy single journey tickets that are easily purchased in the station at the ticket machines. They are also really tight on security with guards at every entrance into the subway line, where they have a baggage scanner like the ones at the airport. This must be done every single time you take the subway. One of the first things you actually notice here is exactly how strict security is, the cops do not play around in this place! We saw locals get properly shouted at for jay walking! Shanghai police are not to be messed around with and by the looks of the locals they are certainly wary of them.
Our hotel was super funky, the YES Hotel. We were again welcomed by the receptionist with a wonderful blank face and eye contact for a second. The room was out of an Austin Powers sketch, a capsule tube shower, a round bed (that was SO comfy) with mirrors everywhere, and a bathroom that had a Jacuzzi and well uh covered with beaded curtains. Meaning it’s all out in the open folks! Not sure what’s going on these days but I keep seeing more and more hotels and apartments that don’t close up the bathrooms anymore, do we not like the privacy of our own bathroom time anymore? Did I not get the memo?
There are many themes from what I gathered and I would recommend it for a fun stay but most importantly its location, being right next to the subway station taking you to many tourist areas close by, by this I mean 1 to 3 stations away.
During this week we were blessed not blessed with rain that most certainly affects plans but does not stop us from accomplishing them, wet or not.
Umbrellas out we made our way to Yu Yuan Garden which unfortunately was closed due to the late start after our delayed flights but the Yu Yuan Market (Yu Yuan Bazaar) was opened which rain or shine was busy with beauty and people. The architecture of this area made you feel like you were walking in an era of ancient Asian history. It is most likely what you feel you would see in the movies when it comes to historic films of samurai’s and monks. On a side note we also felt like we walked into China Town’s Head Office, it just seemed like this was the true base compared to our factories at home!
All of these feels ended up being correct after finding out the temple within this bazzar was built in the 15th century.
Over 100 years ago there was an increase in pilgrims who came to worship at the temple. It was due to this that many businesses and vendors opened up shops specifically for these pilgrims. It has since grown in it’s importance and now is most certainly a walk back into time into what would be Old Shanghai.
After a lengthy look around, we decided we would be back the next day to see the garden (this was so worth it) we then headed off to the famous Bund! Now again let me remind you it was rain rain rain so the view we were hoping for was certainly not one surrounded in fog however it was still most certainly an incredible sight to see. This was again a sight we decided to come back to the next day as it deserved and we deserved to see it at its best.
However even with rain, this area still boomed with locals and tourists which shows just how special it is!
Once the lights come on it’s always a special kind of beauty. With our natural cloudy rain filter we captured a few of our favourite snaps of this vibing area, Nanjing East.
Nanjing Road is actually known as Chinas Number 1 shopping street, dating back to the Qing Dynasty where many of the same shops are still trading today. This is not just one street however, it’s about 5kms going through from the Bund onwards with an abundance of shops, businesses, restaurants, malls (SO MANY MALLS), bars and historical attractions.
Wet shoes and tired feet we quickly stopped at Mcdonalds, yes we go to Asia to eat McDonalds, but may I add firstly, it’s really good in parts of Asia, secondly when it comes to Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macau I literally have never seen so many Mcds Franchises around – they are literally in every busy area, and thirdly it’s quite the economical option when traveling when you just need cheap (relatively compared to the rest), easy food. I will be very honest and say in these 2 weeks we ate this more then anything! haha!
Grateful our hotel was just one subway stop away we got to our hippie room happily tired we didn’t let the rain stop us from exploring, and also gave us our chance to plan our routes for Day 2, while getting a chance to soak in our multi coloured bubbling jacuzzi (^^,).