This weekend a small group of us decided to leave Qingdao and enjoy a three day break from our internships, courtesy of the Mid-Autumn bank holiday on Monday. After a little bit of group deliberation we decided to make the most of it and spend the time in Shanghai; one of the largest, richest and fastest growing cities in the world!
We booked our flights online with Air China. It took us just over an hour to fly to Pudong International and only cost 600 yuan return including taxes, which really emphasises both the ideal location of Qingdao as a base to explore as well as the low cost travel options available in China.
The weekend really was incredible! Fuelled by the sheer size of the metropolis and the millions of modern and forwarding thinking people who occupy it, Shanghai has a real energy about it which we’d guess is unique in Asia outside of Hong Kong and maybe Tokyo. As the beating heart of China’s booming economy, the skyline is just amazing with huge skyscrapers as far as the eye can see, and in fact, the air quality was much better than I had anticipated so you could actually enjoy it!
The first night after arriving we were really tired, so we just decided to go on a bit of a walk and get something to eat. Eventually we ended up at a hot pot restaurant, where you pick random things and they put them all into one large dish. Ours was definitely random! We couldn’t read the characters so we ended up with two frogs and God knows what but it was still pretty nice and not “Shanghai-expensive.”
The next day we had a casual look around the city including the famous Shanghai Bund, and we also visited a temple. Although it was very beautiful and had huge Buddha statues we were not really interested in the whole touristy pseudo-culture thing, but inside the shop/gallery there was a guy making really incredible black and white paintings using only his fingers which was very cool to see. For the rest of the day we just did a bit of searching and tried some of the local street, then got ready to sample Shanghai’s nightlife. That night we went to a massive club called Feebe’s which was really really good, and at 100 yuan all-you-can drink begging for absolute annihilation! Although being the boring old man we are on the inside we couldn’t help but think of the contrast of the practically pornographic grinding of the locals and the weird strip tease thing which started on every hour to the CCP’s 90th birthday celebration statues which are dotted around the city. Such is Shanghai!
We won’t do a whole minute by minute play of what we did for the whole weekend, but on the Sunday night we went up the Jin Mao Building, which is one of the top twenty buildings in the world. Enjoying a Royal Mohito in the Cloud 9 bar whilst overlooking the city was a real experience, and a great way to chill for an evening.
A personal highlight for us was going to one of the many fake markets, this one in West Nanjing Road. It’s essentially a normal crappy market, but if you mention the code words “Breitling” or “Rolex” they take you into the back of their shops, sometimes complete with false doors/bookcases and little secret rooms which we found really funny. Especially when one of them tried to convince us his Tag Heuer watches were originals when we were among the 30 yuan belts. We were pretty pleased with them anyway and picked up a couple of the children of North Korea’s finest timepieces.
Monday seemed to come too quickly and it was all over, a quick ride on the Maglev train at 300km p/h (which would usually deserve a proper mention but not in the context of this trip! :D), another easy flight and we were back home! If only we could have stayed longer; We’d really love to go back again sometime.
Ben & Phil