Shanghai, or in short Hu, is the capital city of the world’s most populous country, China. My husband Greg and I decided to tour Shanghai which is a renowned global metropolis which draws worldwide attention. Located on the estuary of Yangtze River, this city serves as an influential financial, cultural and economic centre.
In addition to modernization, the capital’s multicultural flair and unique glamour made us fall in love with it instantly. We noticed the superb blend of cultures, the traditional and modern, and the oriental and western. The Shikumen and contemporary skyscrapers drew the skyline of the city.
What I noticed with Shanghai and Greg agreed with me is that doesn’t pride itself with having must-see sights like Rome and New York. The joys of Shanghai, rather, is at street level where day to day life unfolded with baffling variety. We saw elderly women in pajamas chopping vegetables on the steps of their lane houses, while Gucci-clad beauties sashayed past them on their way to a nearby art gallery and happy white bed sheets flapping from the sides of buildings.
Our first act after arriving at the international airport was to take a ride on the famous Shanghai Maglev Train. This magnetic levitation train ride was the excellent metaphor for Shanghai. The train does reach speeds of up to 430 km/h. The trip lasted for about eight minutes. We both felt a little bit whiplashed but the disorientation was the perfect welcome to the fast-paced city. The Maglev train didn’t extend to the rest of the city. The train was built as a cachet project to awe visitors, not to be of service to the locals. A single ride costs 50 Yuan (9.77 AUD).
We also checked the Fuxing Park. Shanghai, unlike many of Chinese cities that seem to have forgotten that people like to walk about, is a city made for walking. We walked in the Fuxing Park precisely as it was in the colonial period French Concession, still with stuccoed villas and sycamore trees. Inside the park we found grannies bashing Chinese Opera and Mao-dressed men taking caged birds for a stroll. Not far from the park we saw the residence of China’s founding father. The house as we were told contained period furniture and books which remind people of how Shanghai was in its heyday.
Given the much talked about 5,000 years of history, the country’s museums are in a sorry state. The exhibits are awfully lighted, the English information a hodgepodge of incomprehensible nouns. Actually, some of the country’s finest artwork was taken by the departing Nationalists way back in 1949, when they moved to Taiwan.
The Shanghai museum was a welcome remedy to all the dark and dingy museums. We picked a section, ceramics to be precise, and dug in.
Din Tai Fung
A visit to Shanghai would be incomplete without a visit to the popular Din Tai Fung a Taiwanese chain restaurant. They served us the Xiaolong bao or the soup dumpling. The Xiaolong bow is to Shanghai what the chicken wing is to buffalo. A dainty dumpling skin is wrapped round a juicy pork filling. The dumpling contains a small amount of tasty broth.
Traditional Chinese acupressure is not for the timid. This is not some oil-greased Swedish relaxation method or even the passive Yoga characterized in Thai massage. The Chinese acupressure is similar to China itself: I cried a little, nonetheless, the experience was rewarding.
The procedure, which took place behind Huaihai Park, lasted three quarters of an hour and I parted with 98 Yuan (19.15 AUD) for it. At Green there are clean pajamas, proper massage tables, scented candles and soothing music. Nevertheless, none of these will prepare you adequately for as your body will be experiencing something between pain and pleasure.
The memories of this place will last a lifetime.