Saturday, 15 April 2017

Goodbye Shanghai

It took us until our last day to have McDonald's which isn't bad as usually we like to try the "local Macca's burger". I was glad to see congee and yu char kway (that's what I know them as but they are called many different things!) on the breakfast menu. Best of all, it was only going to set me back 11CNY which is just over $2 Australian dollar. Bargain! The rest of the family chose western style offerings and I am informed that the sausage tasted rather strange. 

The agenda for the day was to experience suburban Shanghai, to the where Will lives. The taxi ride showed us that this newer part of Shanghai was as new and modern as the city centre itself. First up, to the local salon. A wash, blow dry (not style), ear clean, and scalp & neck massage was only AUD$2...if you would like a hair cut as well, the price jumped to a whopping $6. This was thanks to Will's family being a member of the salon where they paid in advance to have credit on a card. If one was not a member, price were approximately double. The whole family, with the exception of Jonah, jumped in for the experience. A hair cut before the start of school was never going to be cheaper than this ever!

Will then showed us his local mall. It was a HUGE American style open air mall which took all of 3 months to build! We wandered around and had lunch with Will's family before taking the metro back to our hotel. The station was right at the mall and it was only 7 stops to the one that we needed to get back to our hotel. Buying the tickets were straight forward and everything was well signed including on the train itself where the stops on the route were written in both Chinese and English.

As Luan was staying on in Shanghai for a few more days, she generously allowed us to store our luggage in her room and let us use her room for quick showers before our trip to the airport. Immigration to leave took much longer than immigration on arrival but we did still have time to stuff some food in before our flight home. Thankfully, our flight home was uneventful. Immigration and customs at Sydney airport were surprisingly efficient and the taxi line was short.

All in all, we enjoyed ourselves very much in Shanghai. The last time I visited China was as a 10 year old with my parents. Of course, it was very different back then and unfortunately it was not a journey that was particularly memorable for me. Sadly I did not appreciate the China that I saw and experienced back then. It probably also explained my reluctance to go back to visit. I am glad that I went, even if the card that tipped the balance was visiting a Disney castle! I must say, the people surprised me. I did not experience anywhere near the amount of pushing, shoving, or queue cutting as I expected. Nor did I see any spitting! The streets were clean. The roads wide and modern. This may well be different in other parts of China. Shanghai was easy to navigate, food options were plentiful and it is a gentle entry to China for westerners. In fact, I would say that it felt somewhat like a "generic" big city. Yeah too backward initially and now too modern. Sheesh some people are hard to please! I am sure my parents would be delighted to know that I would love to revisit other parts of China and take the children before it changes too much. I'm not sure where Malcolm sits on this, but I suppose you'll find out if we ever do go back because I'll be blogging about it!

Chicken congee with fried chinese bread. Not bad for 11 CNY!

Haircut anyone?!?

Another day another mall. This one only took 3 months to complete!!

Elliot won 2 soft toys at the skill tester!

One BIG drink

Make that 2 big drinks...

Catching the metro back to our hotel

This is a poor photo but the stops are in both Chinese and English, as are the announcements.

Deciding what to have for our last meal in Shanghai Airport

My favourite. Fish ball noodle soup!

Friday, 14 April 2017

Shanghai In The Sun

The sun remained with us today! Oh how nice it was to walk around Shanghai without umbrellas or getting wet. We had the morning to enjoy the hotel facilities before meeting up with Will for lunch. He had again generously offered to take us around and had taken the afternoon off.

The lounge/sitting area around the hotel pool at the Grand Kempinski Hotel

The great views of the Huang Pu river and the Bund from the pool

The sitting area in the spa area

We're not quite sure what these seats are for other than the view

Perhaps for watching TV looking up?!?!?

Multiple small spa pools

A multiple of options in the shower
Will's office was conveniently located next to Raffles City at Peoples Square. As we neared the building, we saw a long line of people. Upon enquiring, we discovered it was for milk tea! Specifically from a shop called HEYTEA. Here is the blurb I found online:

"Guangdong tea shop chain HEYTEA claims they are the first to invent the cheese tea -- naigai cha (奶盖茶), pairing various freshly brewed teas with cheese foam on top. Their first shop in Shanghai went viral when it opened, inspiring six-hour wait times.The shop offers green tea or black tea with cheese foam on top, mixed tea, fruit tea etc, along with crème brûlée and chocolate brûlée. Pricing is slightly more expensive than other tea shop chains, tea is usually more than 20rmb for a cup."

With the typical Asian thought of "a line must mean its good", we considered joining the queue but quickly backtracked when we were informed that it would take around 3 hours to get to the shop. Yikes! Err no thanks! I did not want cheese foam topped tea that much...

Another big shopping

Never ending floors of shops

We noticed a long line of people queueing...for milk tea!

People's Square
Will brought us up to his office as he had something for the children. We were bargaining for ocarinas (a type of pipe) at the Yuyuan Bazaar and he was not happy with the final price we were given. He promised the children he would get them bigger and better ones. And he did! One ceramic okarina for each child with a different design complete with its own carry case and instructions, and which were twice as big as the ones we were bargaining for. The children, especially Elliot, were delighted. The bonus was a giant chocolate Easter bunny for each child...

A handy map in his office helped to orient us on our planned walk this afternoon. We headed to the local food court where we were greeted by mouth watering aromas. It was interesting to note that the different types of Chinese food on offer. At that particular food court, money is loaded onto a "payment card" of sorts, and that card is then used to redeem for food so no money changes hands directly with each vendor. Will chose a random array for food for all of us to share and none of them disappointed!

The children voted this the best pathway to a building ever

A quick visit to Uncle Will's office. He had bought the children ceramic pipes as promised

They apparently could not wait to play them

It did come with instruction sheets

An orientation to Shanghai on the map before we headed off to lunch

At the local food court!

Still fighting to pay...

Steamed selections!

Tofu with clear noodle soup

Rice cakes

I'm not quite sure what are actually in these dumplings but they were delicious!

Mushroom noodles

More dumplings

Something for the children

A tofu congee

Individual karaoke booths which can record your sessions...
From People's Sqaure it wasn't far to the famed Nanjing Road pedestrian shopping strip. It was a pleasant walk as it was not crowded and we could make our way at a leisurely pace towards the Bund with no shoving or pushing. There were many stops mostly for food and drink...At this point, we had decided to stop arguing with Will and just graciously accepted that he wanted us to try. Although half the time I'm not quite sure what I'm ingesting. Once at the Bund, Will took us in to have a quick look at the Fairmont Peace Hotel, a landmark art-deco Hotel, popular with the social elite during Shanghai's heyday.

We then crossed from The Bund to Pudong under the Huangpu river via the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. The "train" was a tiny futuristic looking pod. The crossing tunnel was fitted with multiple lighting effects which provided some entertainment but to be honest felt a little weird and cheap. Our destination on the other side was the Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC), one of the many skyscrapers we could choose from for a birds eye view of the city. We were fortunate to have clear skies (apparently reasonably clear for Shanghai standards!). Whilst it would have been nice to visit at night, the scheduling didn't really fit. Looking out all we could see was a seemingly endless sea of tall buildings. Shanghai was growing at an alarming rate. Will explained that so much of this was farmland in a not so distant past.

Rent a bicycle. So cheap and so convenient. There were multiple companies competing for business and sometimes rates can be well under a dollar to rent the bicycle or even free!

The start of Nanjing Road

Shanghai's first department store

Guess where we are!

This was the cause of much joy for some

A mood analysing station

More snacks!

I really should ask more questions about what I am shoving down my throat! But the cool drink was bliss on a warm day.

This time savoury snacks including duck tongue

One of the numerous western style architecture building along the Bund

The edge of the Huangpu River

Looking at Pudong from the Bund- "East" bank of the HuangPu river

Mal and Will

Descending to catch the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel "train"

Futuristic "pod"

You can just see the lighting effects the children are looking at in the tunnel

Up to the observatory

The 100th floor of the building

Looking East away from the Bund

Glass floor tiles gave views of the streets below

Looking back towards The Bund
After a long afternoon of walking we were glad of the opportunity to stop for afternoon tea. We chose Japanese cafe in the lower levels of the SWFC. The children were deserving of a treat. It was also a chance for Mal and Will to catch up further. Before we knew it we had spent nearly an hour and a half at the cafe! It was time to move on to....dinner. Back to Super Brand Mall where we met up with the rest of Will's family, Holly his wife and Ollie  and Ella, their children. Holly made sure that we were able to try typical Shanghainese food or Shanghainese favourites. I stopped taking photos after appetisers....It was a great way to end our last evening in Shanghai.

Time for afternoon tea!

Something reasonably healthy for the adults

Not so for the little ones. 

Not a bad view for our last evening in Shanghai

Broccoli in a horseradish sauce