I’d originally intended to spend just 2 days in Shang(ai, but because of last minute changes to my business itinerary, ended up staying for 5 days. Unfortunately, the city – like Beijing just prior – was all smoggy that I had to drop some of the places I wanted to check out. Worse still, it rained three out of the five days, and the rain experienced there was monsoon-like over here – i.e. non-stop rain all day.
The place I stayed at – Howard Johnson Huahuai Hotel – was pretty decent at least. It’s located on a side road off a not-too-busy main road. The room was well-accorded with modern amenities. Unfortunately, the floor was very low – third floor – that I enjoyed the chorus of round-the-clock honking just outside, even for a relatively quiet main road.
Nice, comfortable room for 5 days. Rather thin walls, and low floor in my case too though.
Shanghai boasts of a complex subway network, with low-cost fares and easy walking from point to point. Traffic, like Beijing, is crazily scary. Pedestrians are like fodder and crossing even at designated pedestrian crossings are contests of wills! Parents were remarking over Sunday brunch that despite the numerous times they’ve been to China, they simply don’t dare cross the roads there.
Huai Hai Zhong Lu in the French Concession, also known as the Paris of the East. Lots of classy boutiques for sure.
Curiously though, prices of goods were anything but cheap, at least in the core Shanghai city. In fact, in most cases – even fastfood – they matched or surpassed local prices here. I’m certain that costs of living are lower outside the core city (Shanghai is one of the largest and most densely populated cities in China) but never got the opportunity to check those precincts out.
So, despite the uncooperative weather, during the two days where the sky did clear and I was free off work, I visited a couple of the key sites.
Yu Garden. This garden is rated as one of the top tourist spots in the city and a must-see. It’s pretty small at just 2 hectares, but surprisingly very dense. There are so many ponds, pavilions and inner gardens in the little area that you could easily spend a few hours in it checking out every nook and cranny. The Garden was constructed in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty, but after suffering damage in the 19th century has since been repaired. The place was pretty crowded on the damp morning I was there, so the pictures here sans visitors was possible only through a combination of sheer luck and clever cropping!
Sneaked in a panorama sweep to construct this composition when no one else was about. A second later, visitors walked right past!
Beautiful garden, just a little crowded.
Long handheld exposure of 1/4s + art filter + good breathing technique!
Shanghai Museum. The Museum, situated at the People’s Square, houses five floors of numerous artifacts. Each floor comprises several viewing galleries arranged by themesk(e.g. pottery, paintings, coins and currency, costumes). The museum has no admission fee, and is large enough that even on crowded days, there’s enough space for you to linger around and take your time to investigate each exhibit.
Entrance to the Museum.
Let loose with the macro feature on the 12-50mm lens.
Shangai Urban Planning Exhibition Center. Located very near Shanghai Museum, this place is a bit of a propaganda piece for how extensive and forward looking were the city’s planners. The two showcase pieces of the Hall is a huge scale model of the core city, and a really nifty circular theatre room showing a ten minute 3D rendered flythrough of the city.
Panorama composition of the scale model. It occupies most of the floor, with viewing walkways running along the circumference of the model.
The Bund. Shanghai’s waterfront area. Imagine Marina Bay multipled by a few times in length. On one side is the river; and the other side is the city’s historical buildings. I was there twice on separate days hoping for clear weather, but ended up experiencing raining, and dry + smoggy.
The Bund on a dry + smoggy day.
The financial district of Shanghai on that rainy day.
Lots of historical buildings and people carrying umbrellas!
Fairmont Peace Hotel. Located near the Bund. Splendidly refurbished with a real sense of calm once you walk from the bustling sidewalk outside and go inside it. Got chased out alongside other visitors by staff though when they saw that we weren’t guests. Funny; because the travel guide recommended visitors to take a look inside.
Lovely stylized dome in the hotel.
Tianzifang. An arts and crafts enclave located near the hotel in the French Concession area. Quite an experience walking through the maze-like narrow alleys. Didn’t spend too much time in the area though as we were passing through and on our way to a business dinner.
Lots of little shops to pop in and browse their wares. Place seems a bit of a fire hazard though!
Next and last post of the series; dining in Beijing and Shanghai.=)