The biggest impression Shanghai left on me was CROWDS. If I am honest I really didn’t enjoy Shanghai as much as I enjoyed Beijing or have been enjoying myself in Xi’an. I wouldn’t say I didn’t like the city or that I didn’t have some highlights during my time there, it just didn’t have the same draw to explore it as the other places did. Shanghai was basically a very busy modern city, and unlike in Beijing there weren’t those little pockets of quiet you could suddenly find yourself in.
As I said Shanghai was not without its highlights. The biggest highlight for me was the Shanghai Chinese Acrobat Show that we went to on the first night there. I will apologise now, I do not have any photos of the show as I was too busy enjoying the show to try to take photos without using a flash of a mostly fast-moving show in the dark.
The show was the original meaning of awesome. Starting with a solo performer going into all kinds of positions while only supporting herself on one hand; moving though people jumping though hoops; a guy balancing as well as throwing and catching a rather heavy-looking stoneware pot on his head; as well as some very flexible gymnasts; and the first half culminating with guys running around in and on top of a giant hamster wheel making the entire audience gasp when they stumbled. The second half started of with some spectacular trampoline and trapeze work and included an incredibly synchronised gymnastic double act, some beautiful ribbon work, some aerial acrobatics. The grand finally was very grand indeed, we saw not one, not three or five, but a total of eight motorbikes go into a death ball. Apparently the company hold the record for the most number of motorbikes in a death ball at one time. The whole thing was one massive awe-inspiring spectacle. I am afraid my description doesn’t do it justice, so you will all just have to come to China to see it yourselves.
The other main highlight was when we went to old Shanghai, not the area itself as it was mostly reconstructed and reminded me of the royal mile the way it was so blatantly aimed at tourists. Don’t get me wrong the area is beautiful, just crawling with people. I think it is possibly the busiest place we went in Shanghai.
But while we were there we went to a Chinese tea ceremony which I enjoyed very much. Our guide led us to an upstairs balcony which overlooked old Shanghai. We made our way inside to a table where the host of the ceremony introduced herself. She explained to us the process involved of making tea in China and poured some water over the flowering tea she had prepared in two glasses.
We tried each type of tea, this included ginseng oolong, the flowering tea, baby jasmine, green tea and black tea with lychee and rose petals. It was beautiful to watch her prepare the tea and each tea had a delicate and unique flavour.
Just before we left the tea house, I went to the loo. I wouldn’t usually talk about this kind of thing or take a photo in the loo, but I just found this sign too amusing.
We did the normal touristy thing of going to The Bund, both during the day and at night. Unfortunately due to a combination of the fog and the smog we didn’t get the best view.
And the view in the other direction from the bund was also interesting. I have never heard of a Barbie Tour bus before.
There were a few familiar sights amongst the new ones though.
We also had a few different culinary experiences in Shanghai. Our guide told us about an Italian restaurant which she said was cheaper than the local food. We wouldn’t usually go in for that but we had been slightly over budget lately and thought it would give us a perspective of the Chinese take on western food. We went and the food was lovely and indeed very cheap, we spent about £7 between us on dinner and drinks. We decided to go back there and had a little longer so decided to get some dessert, we bought something that called itself simply pudding and a chocolate lava cake. Our desserts seemed to be taking a long time to arrive so my husband used the google translate app to find out if they were still coming, unfortunately he asked if our “desert” was on the way which left our waitress very confused, but we got them slightly after so something must have worked.
We obviously had some Chinese food too. If I am honest all the food we have had since we first got here has been delicious. The best that we had in Shanghai was some dumplings which Shanghai is famous for, we got some steamed ones and some fried ones. Both were full to bursting with juice, making them very messy to eat and we attracted a few more stares than usual as we tried. They were both tasty, but the fried ones were sublime.
The only remaining noteworthy thing we did in Shanghai which I haven’t mentioned yet was going to the museum, which was interesting. All the information was there in both English and Mandarin, but we only had an hour so we had to pick our battles to some extent. If we had had any more than an hour I suspect we would have got information overload anyway.
We decided to firstly go to the top floor and look at the national dress on display. China is made up of many unique cultures coming together to form the one country and it was interesting to see the vastly differing forms of traditional dress throughout these regions.
My husband wanted to go to see the coins. It was very odd to see some of the early ones as they were not actually round, some even looked like swords. There was a school trip at the museum and the kids were acting up as I imagine happened on school trips all over the world, while I was standing completely still looking at one of the coins a boy who is backing up to take a photo turns around and sees me and then continues to back into me.
Finally we went to see the art, which was really quite breathtaking. Each section was dark until you approached, presumably to preserve the colour. By this point we were a bit more rushed so I spent my time enjoying the art rather than trying to capture it.
I am glad I have been to Shanghai and I wouldn’t swap it, but I am not sure I would go back.