Another day exploring in Shanghai! After a good night’s sleep I was up and ready to see more of the city. After exploring on my own on Saturday, yesterday I was joined by Phyo, another of the representatives from the University of Birmingham. Shanghai can be a little daunting at times so it was great to have some company!
We set off at 7:30, wanting to make the most of our only free day left before the conference started. First we took the subway from our hotel into Changshu Rd station, from which we walked along Changle Road. Changle Road, which runs right through Shanghai’s French Concession, is home to numerous clothing boutiques, as well as a number of maternity and baby clothing shops; the Maternity and Infant Hospital is also on this road. As it was early morning when we got there a lot of these places weren’t open yet, but it was a great place for a stroll – it’s lively even at 8am on a Sunday, with small motorbikes zipping up and down the streets and clusters of street food vendors serving breakfast on the corners.
We had planned to get a subway into People’s Park after this, but by the time we looked at the map we realised we were already more that half way there. We walked through Square Park, a beautiful green space complete with koi pond centred around a huge crossroads. This area really brings together Shanghai’s mixture of urban spaces and parkland.
Square Park almost joins on to People’s Square, which we visited before heading into town for some serious shopping. Shanghai is full of huge, multi story department stores – the once we went in were pleasingly airconditioned, but did seem to be full of mostly American shops. Generally not the most interesting, although we did get a chance to explore the M&Ms store and see the “Great Wall of Chocolate” (which is exactly what it sounds like – a whole wall on the first floor is covered in massive tubes filled with M&Ms). I also spotted this disheveled looking Mario outside a clothes shop. He was enough to draw me in, but I found to my disappointment that there was no actual Nintendo merchandise in store.
We came across a busy indoor food market, where we could try loads of different local foods – I ate some sort of puff pastry treat which was possibly the sweetest thing I’ve ever tasted. Phyo picked up a sweet mooncake and whole bag of fruits, fresh and dried, none of which I’ve seen in supermarkets back in the UK. I feel like I would do well to be a bit more adventurous with the foods I try out here – I’m just paranoid about taking a bite into something and getting a mouthful of meat or fish!
After this we carried on walking until we got to the edge of the Bund, the main river that runs through Shanghai. This is a bit of a tourist trap, so it was quite busy! The view was still fantastic, though. The space-age looking building to the left is the Oriental Pearl Tower, which (like a lot of the tall buildings here) lights up in rainbow colours at night!
After seeing the Bund, we had one more stop on our itinerary – Yu’yuan Garden. Unfortunately by the time we got there the garden itself was shut, but the bazaar that surrounds it stays open late, so this is where we grabbed some dinner. I employed my “WO CHI SU (I eat vegetables)” flashcard and managed to get a huge, deepfried pancake filled with leek – for only 8元! (That’s about 80p!)
Phyo tried a few different things, including a stick of fried quails eggs, but I was most envious of
the steamed buns she found. A lot of the steamed bun places in the bazaar had huge queues, but we managed to find a quieter one. They even served huge buns, about the size of an apple, which came with a straw stuck in the top for drinking the broth from inside! These all looked yummy.
As it got darker, the bazaar was lit up – it was reminiscent of a German style christmas market with it’s wooden buildings and festive atmosphere. We were both reluctant to leave, but after fourteen hours on our feet the comfort of the hotel began to call and we got the subway back home.
So, that’s been my weekend in Shanghai. As the conference gets underway, I might not be updating as often – but I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures! We’re all off to see an acrobatics show tomorrow night so that should be good. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a photo of me being the biggest tourist ever and posing with my new bff: