My Winter Travels, Part 9: Shanghai

Shanghai Picasa Photo Album
After spending two days in Tokyo, I flew to Shanghai on February 8th , where I met up with my parents. My parents traveled with me for 3 weeks (they flew out of Beijing back to Seattle on March 1st). In Shanghai, a student named Allen from my school also met us, to travel with us, translate for us and generally just help us get around. We spent 4 nights in Shanghai.

The first night in Shanghai was one of the more frustrating moments of the trip. My flight got in pretty late (about 8:30 pm) and it took a long time to go through baggage claim, immigration and customs. By the time I met up with my parents and we started making our way to our hostel, it was after 10. We followed the instructions our hostel gave us, and took a bus to the train station, where we were supposed to take the metro to a station very near our hostel. Unfortunately, it was so late that the metro was closed. Taking a taxi was our only option. It was also poring down rain, my dad had a cold, and my parents were very tired. Chinese Taxi drivers are smart--they know a desperate tourist when they see one, and they go straight for the rip-off. In China, you can usually bargain a set price with a taxi driver, or go by the meter (which is always better if you're not sure what a ride should cost--anytime a taxi driver suggests a set price, it'll be higher than the metered price). I've read that it's illegal for a Taxi driver to refuse to go by the meter when a passenger suggests it, but that doesn't stop them, and this night was no exception. Each taxi driver offered a price of 50 RMB (which I knew was way too high) and refused to go by the meter when I asked. If I was a tourist fresh of an airplane, I probably would have given into this thievery, but 6 months in China teaches you a lot about bargaining and the regular rip-offs you will receive because you are a foreigner who presumably has lots of money by virtue of your white skin. Of course, my parents are just wanting to get to the hostel and are thinking "50 RMB is less than $7...what's the big deal?" But if you always do the conversion to USD and tell yourself that you're not paying too much, you'll keep getting ripped off and you'll spend far more than you need to to travel in China. So I stuck to my guns. After haggling with about 10 taxi drivers and getting nowhere, I finally decided to give in if the next taxi driver was unwilling to by the meter. Luckily, the next one was willing to use the meter, and the ride cost us only 22 RMB (less than half of the price of the other drivers). It was definitely a frustrating experience, and not my parent's best introduction to China. But the trip got much better after that :).


The Bund

We began our first full day in Shanghai by taking a stroll on the Bund. The Bund is probably Shanghai's most famous sight and it's obligatory to walk it when you visit Shanghai. The Bund once operated a bit like a Wall Street in Shanghai and has lots of historical buildings with European architecture.




The Bund.


The Monument to the People's Heroes at the Bund.


My parents at the Bund.

Nanjing Lu

Nanjing Lu is Shanghai's most famous shopping street. No cars are allowed on it, and at night the buildings are lit up, making for a very pleasant walking street. We walked it on our first day on our way from the Bund to the Shanghai Museum, and then again another night on our way to the Jinmao Tower.




Nanjing Lu by day.




Nanjing Lu by night.

Shanghai Museum

The last thing we did our first day was to visit the Shanghai Museum. The museum had a nice collection of various historical Chinese artifacts (including paintings, sculptures, calligraphy art, money, furniture and costumes).


The museum had an interesting circular design.


The lobby of the museum was quite nice.




The museum had a collection of dresses and masks from some of China's many minority cultures.


A close up of one of the sculptures.

Jinmao Tower

The Jinmao Tower is China's tallest skyscraper and the world's 5th largest at 1380 feet. It's got some nice views of the city from the observation deck.




The Oriental Pearl Tower, as seen from the Jinmao Tower.


Shanghai by night.


This is a lobby of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in the Jinmao Tower. It starts on the 54th floor and is supposedly the world's highest hotel.

Yuyuan Gardens

We visited the Yuyuan Gardens on our final day in Shanghai. The gardens were very pretty, although I thought the gardens we saw in Suzhou the previous day were more spectacular.


Allen at the Yuyuan Gardens.


One of the many corridors of the Yuyuan Gardens.




Allen and my parents in the Yuyuan Gardens.


They sure like their dragons in China.

We also took day-trips to Zhujiajiao and Suzhou during our stay in Shanghai. After our time in Shanghai, we continued on to Hangzhou.
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Husband and father, musician, software engineer at SEOmoz, open source developer specializing in Ruby and Rails, world traveler and Christian.