China 8: Shanghai

The scheduled bar crawl on our first evening in Shanghai was run by Drunken Dragon and started at 8:30, and I believe they run most Saturday nights – we therefore couldn’t change the night we did it but it wasn’t ideal for it to be an hour or so after arriving at our hostel, The Phoenix, after a long and bitty journey there. However it was 180 RMB each (18/19 quid) for entry to 3 bars and a club, an hour open bar at the first bar (where I inhaled about 5 Gin and Tonics), plus coach transportation to each bar where we were given free shots. It was a slightly messy but very enjoyable evening but, after a day travelling and a long night of heavy drinking, I struggled to do much at all the following day.

Jason and I decided to venture down Nanjing Road, the busiest shopping street in the world. In hindsight this may not have been wise with hangovers; shoppers swarming round you, trams honking their horns for you to get out of their way, Chinese shop owners hurrying over to you and shoving leaflets under your nose barking “pretty lady, handbags and watches”… It was very western, very new and very wide. I wasn’t hugely won over at this point.

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Nanjng Road

The following day we all went to Yu Gardens – a nice and pleasant way to spend your time wandering around Chinese gardens and the markets, however for 40RMB each to enter the inner gardens (which weren’t massively different from the other Chinese gardens we have see and visited, other than the adorable kitten we came across) it didn’t blow me away or feel particularly unique. Although I did finally purchase my China fridge magnet, so it was a worthwhile trip!

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Yu Gardens

Late afternoon we wandered through People’s Square in our way to The Bund, the name of the section of riverbank overlooking the financial district and the skyline of Shanghai. We then headed to the end of the Bund to the Vue Bar located at the top of a skyscraper; for 100 RMB (just over a tenner) we got to take in the breathtaking view of Shanghai’s skyline at night whilst sipping a glass of wine in a hot tub. My highlight of Shanghai (and a little bit of a backpacker luxury), I felt peaceful and re-energised all at once.

On our last day in Shanghai we strolled through the former French Concession (quaint tree-lined streets adorned with cute cafes and bakeries), visited a local arts and crafts market and wandered through the financial district before getting the ferry back across.

In the evening we all went to an open-mic comedy night that AJ, our resident tour photographer, was hosting. All in all I wasn’t enamoured with Shanghai, finding Chengdu a more welcoming, exciting and less westernised city (if I had only visited Shanghai I’m not convinced I would have really seen ‘China’) and I would have much preferred a extra night in Moganshan with one less in Shanghai, however this was a really enjoyable and aptly Western way to spend our last night in Shanghai, before getting up at 5am for a 9 hour bullet train to Fujian…

LS

[See previous post: Moganshan]

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