Asia / China / My Travels

Shanghai: The Good That Lies Beyond

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu

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Bund at early morning.

I was supposed to have few hours transit at Shanghai, coming from Beijing going back to Phuket/Singapore. However, few days prior to my flight they moved my schedule, and left me with 17hours in Shanghai! >.<
I thought I can just stay at the airport and kill time, but I realised it was a midnight stopover, so I decided to go to a city hotel, and see a little bit of Shanghai in the morning before my flight.

My friend Kat, recommended a hostel around Bund area, so it will be possible for me to just walk around but I arrived quite really late so the hostel’s friendly receptionists told me that it’s not advisable to go out anymore because I won’t be able to see the Bund with its lights still on anyway. Maybe if I know someone in Shanghai, I can still go out because 12midnight on a Friday night for me is still early, so I was very sad. The receptionists noticed it perhaps because I only booked a double room for myself but they’ve upgraded me to a family room hehe.

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The “new” Shanghai

The next morning I had some hours to spend and walk around, these are the places I’ve only been to on my limited time:

1. Nanjing Road
My hostel is just located on one of the side street at Nanjing Road, very close to the East Nanjing Road metro station, that is why I took the metro going back to airport for 7 Yuan only compared to 200 Yuan taxi fare from my previous night!
Nanjing Road is a very wide pedestrian road lined with malls, shops and restaurants. But since it was still 7am, every shop was still close (so no chance of buying my souvenirs again!) but you can see a lot of old locals doing their morning Wushus and Taichis. It’s very interesting to watch while you walk down going to the Bund.

Wushu at Nanjing Road

Wushu at Nanjing Road

  1. Bund
    Right at the end of Nanjing Road, it will bring you to the Bund. It’s an amazing view of the old and new Shanghai! Huangpu River separates the Old Western Architecture buildings and the New Modern Architecture on the other side where you can see the Oriental Pearl Tower (main icon of Shanghai skyscrapers) and the world’s tallest tower before, Jin Mao Building (1998) and the Shanghai World Financial Building (2010), and the future tallest tower in China, the Shanghai Tower.

    The "Old" Shanghai

    The Bund showing the “Old” Shanghai

    The Bund

    The Bund facing the “New” Shanghai

  2. Crossing Huangpu River
    While I was at the Bund, I saw a “Tunnel Sightseeing” sign that will take me to the the other side of the river for 5 minutes. But since it was still very early, they are still close, so the lady in the counter told me I could just take the ferry at the southend of the Bund. And so I went there and luckily got in the ferry before it leaves, otherwise I will have to wait for 10-15minutes for its return. It was just a quick journey, around 10minutes only to cross the river.
    Alighting the ferry on the other side is a bit different, it was like CBD in Singapore. I walk down to where the Oriental Pearl Tower to see it up-close, and this is also where I can find the metro station to take me back to Nanjing Road.

 

Going back to my hostel, Nanjing Road started to get busy already. Malls were still close (so I know by then I will have to buy my souvenirs again at the airport argh!) but the little shops and restaurants are already open, I had my quick breakfast trying a little bit of Shanghai cuisine, which I do not know what they call it haha! I only know those as dumplings and siopaos, the meatballs that’s like siomais. Eaten with flat Chinese bread with sesame seeds, I had a normal Chinese tea and not the Pu’er anymore, as they taste the same to me :P

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I know I didn’t see enough of Shanghai, but I feel like I can just go back someday. I am quite satisfied already with what I’ve experienced from my past travels in China (esp the Great Wall!) so the only reason why I will come back in China is when it’s a free trip or a business trip that I am obliged to go haha! But at least, I would still consider visiting again right? :P

After visiting The Great Wall of China, I said to myself I am done visiting China. I mentioned on my blog about Beijing (click HERE) I had some traumatic experience at the airport’s security checkpoint upon entering China (that I do not want to write about anymore) but that’s not the reason why I felt I wouldn’t have another holiday in China anymore. I am very friendly by nature; I like meeting new people especially when I travel. I don’t mind starting a conversation.

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However, when I’m in China, I just feel very out of place. Apart from the language barrier, I just cannot feel any warmth from the people. The only people that were warm to me were the people at the hotels I stayed; I thought they are just friendly because maybe they are just doing their job. I do have a lot of Chinese friends so I do not want to generalize of course, but this was just my observation.

It was very difficult to connect with the people especially on this recent trip, I noticed that almost everyone’s head are bowed down and busy with their phones. I can’t start any conversation as they don’t even talk to the people they were with. And when I attempt to start a conversation, chances are they don’t understand me or maybe they just don’t like me haha!

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

I gave up reaching out, not until on my flight going back to Phuket/Singapore that I was seated next to a lovely Shanghainese girl. At first she said hello, I just nod and gave a small smile, because at that point, I’ve already given up so I was a bit skeptical on making friends already. But during the flight, I can feel that she’s approachable and she smiles a lot, so I gave it a try and started to talk to her. And it was a success! She speaks English and we have the same passion with traveling too! Her name is Lois, she just got married too, though no wedding ceremony yet, and they are flying to Phuket for their pre-nup/engagement photoshoot. We have a lot to talk about and we connected really well.

I thank God for meeting her, because my faith in humanity was restored haha! One should be open to change in order to experience what you might have missed if you have doubted at first. Despite my initial observation, I see the good that lies beyond my judgment about China. If I didn’t talk to her, I will leave that country thinking I will never connect with any local at all.  And because of Lois, I still consider visiting China someday ;)

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I might be back… ;)

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