I can split this seasons travels into 4 distinct phases:
Phase 1 – Travels with the Fam Fam
Phase 2 – Me n’ Oblivs Yunnan Adventure
Phase 3- Solo Lost in Laos
Phase 4- Back to Shanghai for Will I Aren’t and Man Man
Phase 1 was an ambitious romp hitting up some of China’s most well-worn tourist spots. The 12 day journey included wandering around Shanghai , visiting the charming canals of Suzhou , chillaxing by Hangzhou’s West Lake , jetting over to Xi’an to scope out the Terracotta warriors, and ending the trip taking in the wonders of Beijing. I’ve already been to Xi’an , Suzhou , Hangzhou , Beijing, and well I live in Shanghai so it might not seem the most interesting trip for me but I went to Suzhou , Hangzhou , and Suzhou the first time I came to China , almost 4 years ago already back when I had no knowledge of Chinese and no idea what to expect. Re-visiting all these cities were fantastic and this time I had freedom of movement unlike with the pre-packaged tour of last time.
It’s such a weird feeling waiting at the airport for people to arrive whom you haven’t seen for a long time , especially when those people aren’t just mere people but your family! Every grey hair I saw start to come out of customs my heart would leap at the thought of pops coming through with family in town. I hadn’t seen the fam fam in around a year and a half and was really excited to see what they thought about my newly adopted country.
Shanghai was a great time and we visited all the typical tourist spots although I did make it to a couple of attractions I had never visited before. I also still have not yet made it to any of the museums, this will change one of these days. The typical places to make sure you see during a visit to Shanghai include the Bund to take in the view of the old colonial front on the river and compare it to the towering , looming , new neon play world of skyscrapers that exists on the Pudong side of things. A walk down the pedestrian street of Nanjing Rd , a stroll through the leafy shady French concession area, hitting up Yu Gardens and the hectic market place and old street , observing the kinda sad animal and bird market , a trip to trendy Tianzifang for dinner and a drink , and finally the two new ones for me ; Jing An Temple , and scaling to the 101st floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC).
More on those later but first a quick note. It’s weird to be a tourist in one’s own city again. Like I didn’t want to be whipping out my camera at everything , gawking at everything , and generally like a lost fool. I’ve acquired this kind of superior smugness when I see tourists in Shanghai. Hahaha , look at them with their maps and guidebooks , how do you get to the Bund??? mwhahaha , idiot idiot you stick the metro card in here when you leave the station! I’ve been in Shanghai a little over a year now and I know my way around Shanghai pretty well and it feels good to have familiarity with such a mammoth beast.
Ok , I’m going to do write-ups of the things to do in Shanghai in my Cool places in SH post so don’t worry about those yet , only so much time ya know but for now I will give impressions of the two new places I visited here with the fam fam. Jing’An temple is a huge metro stop /shopping area/food area with a golden temple smack dab in the middle. I’ve spent quite a lot of time in area and often switch from metro like 7 to 2 here but never have I visited the interior of the temple. It’s not a fantastically huge temple but the architecture is really worth checking out. The wooden carvings are absolutely stunning. You don’t need much time here but a quick look around is worth it. Another feature of the temple which I quite enjoy is that this amazing temple is surrounded by towering glass edifices. From the interior of the temple you can see a giant building wide sized video screen playing advertising. The temple has been at that location since 1247ad and only the last 20 years has seen all this modernity surrounded it.
Next site up is the SWFC. Now this is definitely one of my favorite things to do in Shanghai. It’s a bit pricey coming in at 150 to go to the top 101st floor. This building is (currently) China’s tallest buildings and (currently) the world’s third tallest building. It does proudly feature the world’s tallest observation deck so hah take that Burj Khalifa! But already Shanghai has plans to build a taller one and construction has started on the new NYC World trade center and Saudi Arabia’s insanely (almost 1km) tall Freedom Tower. The whole interior is done up in a hip way with pulsating lights , trippy graphics , and jazz music. The view from the top is mind-bogging. Go up at night-time to be treated to an intense view of the kaleidoscopic neon heaven that is Shanghai.
Okay good for now. Next post will detail the quick trip to Suzhou , we only had a day there and it rained the entire time but is a very cool place. A bit more relaxing than Shanghai if you can ever use that word to describe Shanghai haha.