Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Day 4 – Afternoon and Evening of Friday 19 November 2010

Daniel and I hopped back on board the mini-bus and were driven to the Old Town area of Shanghai where he guided me on a walking tour, The Old Town was formerly surrounded by a city wall and is full of alleys of old low-rise houses and shops. The sights, sounds and smells captivated me as I walked around. I really felt I was in China as there were no English signs in sight. The restaurants and cafes were very basic, with a kitchen sink and cooker on a bench in front of the house and a few old chairs around a small table on the street. Bicycles and scooters weaved around pedestrians in the crowded laneways as clothes dangled out windows in the breeze as they were drying. These offered glimpses of a bygone era which unfortunately may disappear as redevelopments take place in the ever growing Shanghai.

We then walked to the Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar  We walked past the classic Ming-era Yu Garden built in the southern Chinese style, the famous old Town Golden Temple, Xiaotayuan Mosque, Lotus Flower Garden, Zigzag Bridge (Bridge of Nine Turnings), Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse, to name but a few. The famous Nanxiang Steam Bun restaurant was doing a roaring trade with the usual queues of people lined up. McDonalds and Starbucks were also busy. Around the bazaar was a maze of curio and junk shops selling a wide variety of goods that were “Made in China”.

The personalised tour of Shanghai with Daniel ended at 4.30pm when I walked to our nearby Renaissance Hotel. It had been a wonderful day at the CITM in the morning and the tour in the afternoon.

At 5pm I rejoined our mini-bus for a short drive to the Seagull Palace Restaurant in Pudong for our evening meal. As night falls the Restaurant looks like a seagull which is about to fly on the waves, whilst the interior looks more like a ship This was an amazing three story building with the ground floor catering for a wedding receptions, the middle floor catering for a pharmaceutical convention and the top floor for individual and group dining. Our group of four enjoyed the variety of dishes in the Chinese banquet as we overlooked the lights reflected on the Huangpu River.

After dinner we went back to the Hotel and I took the lift up to the top to explore its 22nd floor. The glass walled infinity edged pool and the large spa looked inviting with views towards the brightly lit skyscrapers of Pudong. However, I decided to go out and explore Shanghai using the efficient Shanghai Metro urban rapid transport system I had heard so much about. The system incorporates both subway and light railway lines. It first opened in 1995 and since then the Shanghai Metro has become one of the fastest-growing rapid transit systems in the world. As of 2010 there are twelve metro lines, 268 stations and over 420 km of tracks in operation, making it the longest network in the world. Daily passengers average over 7 million people. The system is still growing with more new lines and extensions under construction.  Plans through to 2020 project a Metro system comprising 22 lines and 877 km of tracks

I crossed the road at about 8pm and went down the escalator directly opposite our Renaissance Hotel to the Yuyuan Station, which is on the newest line to open this year (Line 10). Purchasing a ticket was easy as I found a ticket vending machine with a touch screen that had an English wording option. I paid 4RMB (about 60c) to travel by subway to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum Station. I only had to wait 3 minutes for the next train. It was a simple matter of going one stop to the E. Nanjing Rd Station, changing to a Line 2 train and getting off at the 4th station along. The announcements on the train informing us of the next station were spoken in English as well as Chinese so it was easy to know at what station to get off the train. My intention was to do some shopping at the many market shops that surrounded the subway station. Unfortunately I arrived about 8.15pm and the shops were starting to close for the night. I had time to see that the many market styles were selling many imitation brand name clothes, bags, and electronics.

When the shops closed I caught the Metro back to the E. Nanjing Rd Station and once again walked along the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall. This time I walked all the way to the Bund and walked along the new pedestrian promenade that edges the Huangpu River. The Shanghai Bund has dozens of historical buildings that once housed numerous banks and trading houses. It was amazing to see the contrast between the softly floodlit old buildings on the Bund side of the River and the tall modern brightly coloured neon lit skyscrapers on the Pudong side of the River. I then walked back to the Renaissance Hotel along Road and Henan Road for another night’s restful sleep.

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