Thursday, November 29, 2007

Shanghai, where old meets NEW

Arriving in Shanghai
Flight time from Singapore is approximately 5h and this was also my virgin trip on SQ Business Class. One truly appreciates the amount of attention they shower on you in Biz Class. The flight crew addresses you by name, asks if you'd like a drink prior to take off, gets your coat, asks if you're comfortable, gives you a range of magazines and newspapers to choose from and of course, the food served is much better with real utensils instead of the plastic crap you find in cattle class.

I've come to acknowledge how much China has developed. My misconception that China was still rather rural and undeveloped was promptly dispelled when the passing landscape was littered with high rise condominiums that mimic even the finest in SG and gated communities that are characteristic of the rich in China now.

Shanghai is basically divided into the 浦西 Puxi and 浦东 Pudong regions. Pudong being more newly developed with all the branded hotels, Technology Museum, Oriental Pearl TV Tower etc. The Puxi area has all the shopping districts and more urban housing.

The Puxi half of Shanghai is famous for its myriad of upscale and fashionable shops, in particular at 淮海路 Huai Hai Lu and 长乐路 Chang Le Lu. Huai Hai Lu is littered with individual shops that carry the latest fashions and the Clot boutique (made famous by Edison Chen of Hong Kong). The largest H&M in Shanghai can also be found here in Puxi (all 4-storeys worth).

The Super Brand Mall in Pudong is another go to place for your shopping needs. This huge shopping mall houses H&M, Uniqlo, Next, Starbucks and lots of food outlets.

Coming to China will not be right without trying some exotic dishes. I had the luxury (?!) to try the 大闸蟹 Da Zha Xie. These small crabs are full of egg roe with no meat at all. Don't let their size deceive you though, 1 small crab will set you back close to S$100.

Other foods that can be tried are fried pigeons, small soup dumplings and of course, dim sum!

Places that cannot be missed
新天地 is where most tour operators will take you to look at the old Shanghainese buildings. However in paradox, Xin Tian Di is bordered by the latest European, American and Japanese stores. Paulaner's, Coffeebean, Starbucks, Shanghai Tang etc also litter the french quarters. The area is also home to all sorts of pubs, clubs and Karaoke lounges.

城隍庙 Cheng Huang Temple has been featured on The Amazing Race and has vast corridors selling all sorts of Chinese carvings, jades, gold and is very much like a gold souk in the Middle East. If you're up to queueing, don't miss out on the 小笼包 in the middle of the courtyard. Watch out for pickpockets here!

The Bund borders the Shanghai River and faces the financial district of Shanghai. A light show takes place everyday, where the buildings and hotels on the opposite shore are lit up in an amazing pyrotechnic of colors. French and Roman influenced buildings border 外滩. The light show typically begins at 630pm.

Cabbing is cheap in Shanghai so if you need to get to your destination fast, there is no harm grabbing a cab. Do note that most cabbies speak Mandarin only and if you speak to them in English, there is a high chance they WILL take you on some cab adventure before getting to your destination which could be just 10min away. Always ask for a receipt 发票 Fa Piao which will have the drivers' cab # on it.

To try
If there's something I'd recommend anyone to try in China, it would be traditional Chinese massage 推拿 Tui Na. Massage in China is not for the faint-hearted. Your acupressure points are given the attention they need and deep strokes are used to loosen up any tight muscles.

I really enjoyed this short trip to Shanghai despite my misgivings about China. It's urban and modern but ability to speak Mandarin is a must. Shopping and food were great and I will definitely consider going back to Shanghai again.
Posted by fongie on 11/29/2007 12:40:00 PM in , , ,


Anonymous said...

I love Shanghai! The people there dress really nice. And the whole coffeebean and starbucks stretch...super nice!

There's this place there with a whole building that looks like a gigantic bookshelf right? You saw that?

chin kilin

fongie said...

Which starbucks n coffeebean stretch? I'm really amazed that I enjoyed gg to Shanghai la.

Din see the bookshelf building. Not enuff time to walk arnd whole of Shanghai ^^