China.Adventure – Shanghai – December.2007

Shanghai was our last destination of our 2007 China Adventure.   It was our main reason to travel to China.  Jay wanted to introduce me to his family – good sign right?  Must have been since we got married two years later- I got the approval stamp.  It was a whirlwind of family reunions, dinners and sightseeing (all coinciding with Christmas and New Years).  Good thing we spent 10 days here so we could spread it all out.

Where.we.stayed
•    Jin Jiang Hotel Shanghai.  161 Changle Road, Luwan District, Shanghai, China.  Another five-star hotel, this time in the French Concession area.   At our time of stay, the hotel rooms were in the middle of renovations.  We had to change rooms in the middle of our stay for some reason.  Our first room was nice with space big enough for a king-size bed, a loveseat and a desk area.  Our second room was smaller, but it was renovated and more modern.  Overall, a nice hotel.

hotel room #1 with all our mess (note to self: clean up before taking picture)

hotel room #2 – same mess, different room. more modern, but smaller. and you can watch each other take a bath from the bed (a pull-down screen is available).

What.we.saw
•    Shanghai Zoo.  When I told Jay I wanted to visit the zoo, he looked at me and said, “Why?”  He did not “ask”, he “said.”  But by this time in our trip, there were five of us girls (vs. three guys) who all wanted to see pandas in China.  Again, Jay was outnumbered so we went to the zoo and saw the panda that was lazily lying around eating bamboo shoots.  Not really exciting.  But the most surprising part of the zoo was “Pet World.”  Pet World consisted of different breeds of dogs housed in showrooms.  Yes, dogs.  Domesticated dogs.  From Beagles to Golden Retrievers.  It was the oddest thing I’ve seen in a zoo.

see the dog in the window to the right?

•    Yuyuan Garden.  It’s a tourist-shopping mecca.  Lots of souvenir shops, medicinal stores, scarves, etc.  It was very busy and crowded even in the winter time.  Yet it was picturesque, but when taking pictures, you’ll have lots of tourist in your shot.  Don’t expect to shop at a leisurely pace here.  And this was wintertime too!

competing for a picture spot

•    The Bund.  Walk the riverbank on both sides- both with a different feel.  Go during the day and the night.  Again, it’s a different feel.  Take pictures, lots of pictures.  And then that’s about it.

bund by day.

bund by night.

What.we.did
•    Drink coffee at Jin Mao Tower.  Until 2007, the tower was the tallest in China at 88 stories.  The Grand Hyatt Hotel is housed in this tower and on the 54th floor, we had a very relaxing coffee stop in the hotel lobby and café.

coffee with all the fixin’s

•    Day trips to Hangzhou and Zhujiajiao.  Take an hour and a half train ride to Hangzhou from Shanghai to view the famous West Lake.  We stopped at Liulang Wenying Park for some hot tea to warm up.  Take an hour bus ride from Shanghai to nearby Zhujiajiao town.   An ancient water village with the old-style feel is considered the “Venice of China.”  Stop on Fangsheng Bridge where you can buy fish to “release” them into the canals.  A good deed, right?  Just know that they are re-caught downstream for the next tourist who wants to do a good deed.

in Liulang Wenying (Hang Zhou)

hire one of these boats for a tour around the West Lake in Hang Zhou.

canals around Zhujiajiao.

What.we.ate
•    Xiao Long Bao.  Find the longest line at Yuyuan Garden leading to a take out for xiao long bao, or soup dumplings.  Don’t wait in that line; instead, go upstairs where there are tables.  At the time of this trip, it was very crowded and busy.  Jay instructed us that he will order our xiao long bao and we needed to stand behind a table to wait for it to open up.  When you eat here, you eat in shifts.  Once you are done, the people standing directly behind you will take your seat.  It was a little odd that people were literally watching over your shoulder as you ate, probably counting how many more dumplings you have left.  On our second visit to Shanghai in April 2011 it was a different experience as it was not crowded at all.

how to eat xiao long bao: with chopsticks, carefully remove from steamer. you can place it on a spoon, but jay’s an expert and skips this step. carefully bite a small hole into the dumpling and suck out the soup from the inside (be careful it’s REALLY hot!!!). then you can dip it into vinegar and ginger sauce they provide and pop the rest in your mouth!

everyone waiting behind you to finish eating… eat faster!

•    Yang’s Fry-Dumpling.  No.269 Wujiang Road.  Jay can’t remember how he found out about this place, but it’s pretty well-known, even visited by Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations on the Travel Channel.  They serve the soup dumpling, but this time fried, not steamed.  Great reviews all over the Internet.

What.I.thought
•    This was my first trip to Shanghai and I wanted to see as much as I could while meeting Jay’s family.  I found it busy (I’m not used to being in a big city) and enjoyed my time there as a tourist.  However, I much more enjoyed my second trip to Shanghai in 2011 where Jay and I spent the days trying to get lost and not hang out at the touristy spots.

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