Shanghai Baby - An afternoon in the world's largest city.

I'm not exaggerating you know. I didn't realise at the time but Shanghai is the world's largest city proper. I knew it was huge thou, the consular officials we were dealing with (all of the paperwork to do with Dad dying) told us he recently heard the official 24 million population may not include the 6 million migrants. Either way, it is officially the largest city. the margin might just be 6 million people higher!


Sadly, even though we intended to have the same amount of time in Shanghai as Beijing, it didn't happen. China Eastern cancelled our flight from Huai'an (which was where my Dad taught English). So instead of arriving at 8pm on Tuesday at Shanghai Pudong airport, we arrived into the central bus depot at midday on Wednesday, with only the rest of that day, as we flew home on Thursday morning. So our plans took a bit of a hit. Our hotel was organised by the Irish Consulate (who were helping us with Dad's affairs) and our room overlooked the Jing'an Temple, incidentally also on the route to the consulate for our meeting with them- so while we saw that we didn't make it inside. Also nixed was a walk around the French Concession, as with only little time to see the city we needed to think about where to go and what to see. Luckily our delays gave us time to whittle down what to do, and be a bit more organised than we were in Beijing.


Our first heading after the consulate was to the financial district. Skyscrapers are fun, and this was mainly my brothers' bag. He works in the city, specialising in Chinese investments so knew a bit about Shanghai, and handily (for the whole visit) has a decent smattering of Mandarin. We had been advised to avoid paying the fee to go up Shanghai World Financial Centre (former worlds second tallest building) and go to the bar on the 87th floor in the Jin Mao tower - which would of course them include the SWFC and the just completed (only not open to the public) Shanghai Tower, which is currently the world's second tallest building.


Just our luck, as it happened the bar on the 87th was closed until the evening. Still, my ears popped as we took the lift as far as we could, and had cocktails in the Atrium Bar on the 54th. The views were still fantastic and the one from the loo, well I think it beats the Shard. The Atrium was cool too, again the second tallest in the world - beaten yet again by Dubai. They have to have the biggest everything it seems.


What Shanghai does have, with Jin Mao, SWFC and Shanghai Tower, is the only grouping of Three Superscrapers in the world. It was pretty damn neat to be in the middle of those looking up. I tried to get photos but nothing did it justice. Not from this side of the river anyway.


We still needed to get things for people at home, because you always need to get things, and the subway seemed like a nice idea, so we headed to one of the "fake markets" that the guidebooks say are full of fakes and souvenirs. AP Xinyang Market is inside the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum stop on the metro, so was the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone.

Fake Markets are a weird animal, full of fakes and the typical tourist stuff you would expect to see, but (and I will admit I didn't delve deep) I didn't find it much cheaper than bidding hard for similar on eBay. Maybe if I haggled hard, but then also , I didn't find much I was bothered to haggle over - aside from the very Chinese things like calligraphy and Jade. It was most definitely an experience, I just think I'm beyond the fakes stage of my shopping life. I did see the famous Naked Palette 4 (made famous when it was found by UK police to contain such lovelies as rat droppings and arsenic), so maybe that coloured my view. That said, I did pick up some cheap jewellery.

From there, we headed on the metro toward the major shopping area of Nanjing Road East, and then onto The Bund. This is the area of the riverbank that was formerly the international settlement, and is now filled with not only old European style architecture, but also a lovely riverside walk that gives great views over to Pudong. The area was full of European and Chinese tourists alike - some of the Chinese tourists even asked for photos with us as, being westerners, we were a fairly unusual sight. We got to the Bund just before 7pm, which is when they switch on the lights. so managed to get photos of the skyline with and without the skyscrapers lit up. It is however pretty damn obvious which looked better.




My micro-brewery tour continued, after a pit stop back at the hotel, with the Boxing Cat. Apparently this is one of China's oldest microbreweries, and it wasn't to bad. That said, unlike Great Leap, they weren't the type to experiment with interesting things in the brew like tea, and so as nice as the beer was, it didn't taste much different to other craft brewed beers of the same type I had tasted. That might be my palette but hey, that is just how I felt.


The walk from our hotel to the bar was interesting however. As well as the expected stores and eateries, we past Italian restaurants, European style wine bars and even a costa coffee. As I said, due to the situation, our hotel was sorted by the consulate, and so was bordering the french concession and most of the embassy's etc were nearby. So it was kind of like the Shanghai version of walking through Chinatown, and so was pretty interesting.


It was a real shame to miss out on more of Shanghai thanks to the airport kerfuffle, but I was actually pretty impressed by what we managed to see. What we managed in Beijing and Shanghai alike is a pretty good indication of what you could see if you had a quick stopover of a day in either city. I would love to go back to China, either as a stopover on the way to Japan (which is on my bucket list) or just to spend more time there. My reading list is now filled with things to read on China and it's history, and China is definitely added to the list of places that me and Mr O have to visit together. Not least because he needs to know I am telling the truth about the amazing food.


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