This is the first day of my 2 week tour: Yangzi & Beyond but we don’t meet the group until the evening so I have another day of sightseeing in Shanghai.
24 May 2016
Despite having slept well, I wake feeling totally lacking in energy. It is also pouring with rain again outside, so I laze around and have a slow start to the morning. Once the rain clears a little, I head off to take my second day on the hop on hop off Big Bus tour. I had planned to do the Blue Route today taking in the Pudong side of the river and the financial district, not realising I would see so much of it last night. But it should be an interesting bus trip anyway.
I first have to take the Red Route bus back to the Bund and then transfer to the Blue Route (and it is raining again by now). We head along the Bund past the cruise terminals and then along to the Nanpu Bridge. This is an impressive piece of engineering and China’s first long span cable-stayed bridge. In order to get up onto the bridge the traffic travels round a huge spiral, which is impressive in its own right. I get off at the Oriental Pearl tower expecting to be able to walk around the waterfront but it seems that every path is blocked off to me. Most people are going up the tower, visiting the Shanghai Disney store and going to the massive shopping centres. I hop on the next bus and head for the Jin Mao tower as we were told there was free entrance to the 88th floor Observation Deck with the Big Bus ticket. It is going to be limited visibility but I decide that it would be worth it for the experience. Once I get there I am told that I don’t have the correct ticket and so I must pay 120 yuan to go up – oh well I’m committed now. We go in a high speed elevator (9 m/second) up to the observation deck and yes it certainly is limited visibility. But you can see the Pudong side easily enough and the other side of the river just peeking through. You can also look down into the centre of the tower and see stairs spiralling round and round.
Back at the Bund transfer stop, I grab a bite to eat and decide that I will go back to the hotel to have a sleep as I’m really just dragging myself along and not really enjoying it. Even a walk along the Bund doesn’t appeal. I manage a lie-down for half an hour or so, but then house-keeping comes in to service the room along with a note saying that they were doing some urgent repairs so there would be no water for a few hours.
Then my new room-mate appears at the door – neither of us expecting to see the other! Mary-Ellen (71) is from Florida and travelling for 6 weeks. She has just arrived from Singapore and is also looking forward to a nap after unpacking her bags. We are due to meet our guide and the rest of the group at 6.00.
Our guide is Jing. There are 16 people in our group – a few more than I am used to but it is still small enough. We have 4 New Zealanders (Mike, Colleen, Bernie and myself), 2 from England (Barbara and Dave), 2 from Scotland (Elizabeth and Kenneth), Mary-Ellen from the US and 7 from Australia (Emily, Anu, Chris and Fran, Ian and Helen, and Michael). Two single men and 4 single women. Most are retired or nearly retired– Emily, Anu and I are younger.
Jing tells us what to expect from our trip and plans for the next day, and then she has booked us into one of the top 10 restaurants in China to experience Shanghai cuisine. It is the Xinkaiyuan Restaurant and only about 10 minutes walk from our hotel. The surroundings are very plush and we have our own separate room for the evening. Most try the local beer which comes in very large bottles, I settle for chrysanthemum tea. The most spectacular dish we have is a signature dish of Shanghai – crispy fish – that you test the worth of a restaurant by how well they prepare it. The fish (squirrel or mandarin fish) is whole with the flesh sliced; it is quickly fried so that the pieces of flesh stick up like a porcupine – quite spectacular. We try a range of other dishes: Shanghai lettuce (seems more like a thick seaweed), dried fish (another Shanghai speciality), sweet and sour pork, a mashed potato dish, barbecue pork on French fries, bok choy and eggplant, and of course rice.
After dinner, Jing takes some of the group up to the Observation Deck to see the city at night. It is a late night for them and I am glad that I can go home to bed, although it is difficult to leave the lights on enough that Mary-Ellen can find her way back in later without disturbing me too much.
For this and other similar tours see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
Note: After people telling me they had booked an Intrepid Tour on my recommendation, I now have affiliate links with the Intrepid Travel group of companies and may receive a commission if you book a tour online within a couple of months after clicking through to these sites. So if you are enjoying my tips and stories and finding them useful in choosing your own travel, please click on these links and help me to bring you more ☺.