Travel: Down the Great Wall and Beyond (Part II)
If you didn't read Part I, head on over and read about Beijing here.
We left Beijing via the bullet train. To get to Shanghai, we passed through my hometown: Nanjing. I haven't actually been home since I was 13, so it was a little bittersweet passing through without actually stopping since I still have family there. It was about a four hour train ride, so we arrived in Shanghai relatively later in the day.
I actually hadn't seen my mom in over a year, and she happened to be in China so she met me up in Shanghai the night we arrived there. I have an absolute love for rice cakes so when I heard there was a place in Shanghai that was famous for their rice cakes... well, I had to try it! Now, remember when I said to keep an open mind and stomach when dining in China in my last post? Check out the insane amount of food for three people below, but also the fried quail pictured on the right:
Sadly, this visit with my mom was brief -- it's okay, I saw her again the next day! We had to be up bright and early the next day for one of our business visits.
Baosteel Company Visit
To give you a little background on the company, it's a government owned steel company that is the second largest steel producer in the world. This company and the town that was built up around it has to be one of the coolest things I've ever seen! The coolest part of this visit was definitely being able to see steel being manufactured.
The town that came up around Baosteel had its own hotel, shopping area, lots of restaurants. It was a small town built up for the purpose of giving the people that are employed by Baosteel resources and shopping in a small radius -- it was crazy! Having grown up in the United States in an era that had already developed past the industrial stage already, this was absolutely fascinating to see.
HuangPu River Cruise & Nightlife
After a day of running around the steel factory, we were all put on the HuangPu River Cruise. If you ever decide to take this cruise, bring 50 RMB and upgrade yourself to the VIP deck. You'll thank me! :) The view from this cruise was absolutely stunning and you definitely see China in a new light -- granted, this is only Shanghai and obviously a more Western influenced city versus the rest of the country, but the amount of development over the past couple decades or so is absolutely mind-boggling!
The skyscrapers themselves and the designs as well as the intricacy of how they light up just took my breath away -- and that says a ton coming from the girl who grew up around the famous Las Vegas Strip.
Here comes the fun part: the nightlife. As much as I didn't go out and explore in Beijing, I made up for it in Shanghai. I have a friend that I knew from Vegas who lives in Shanghai now. The nightlife in Shanghai is lightyears beyond the States. Not only is it much cheaper comparatively speaking to the States, but the decor and atmosphere is just so much livelier. There's people from every age group, race, gender, income bracket -- everyone just wants to have a good time. The nightclub I went to was called M18, which according to my friend, was a run down club without much to it. Apparently, the turnover for what's considered popular in Shanghai changes constantly -- one club closes and another opens, or a club renovates and reinvents itself.
The Bund is considered one of the most popular tourist areas in Shanghai, which is also where M18 is located. My best advice if you're planning to go out in Shanghai is to either check SmartShanghai for some reviews or also check CityMoments for where the latest photo sets are being taken, and that should give you an idea to where the hot spots are!
Jade Buddha Temple, Yuyuan Garden & ZhuJiaJiao Water Village
The last day of Shanghai was jam packed with tours!
Our first stop was the Jade Buddha Temple. This specific temple was founded in 1882 when two giant Buddha statues were imported to Shanghai via boat from Burma. Currently, there is a large reclining Buddha statue, but it isn't the original statue that was originally brought from Burma.
Even if you're not Buddhist, I highly suggest you make a trip here while you're in Shanghai. There's just a feeling of peace and serenity in this place. You'll see people burning incense and praying and even just seeing this gesture will give you a deeper insight into Chinese culture.
Our next stop was the Yu Yuan Garden, which was constructed during the Ming Dynasty. During the 19th century, the gardens actually suffered damage multiple times.
There are six main scenic areas here: Sansui Hall, Wanhua Chamber, Dianchun Hall, Huijing Hall, Yuhua Hall and the Inner Garden.
Located outside of the Garden areas is also a shopping area with small restaurants, along with one of the most popular Xiao Long Bao restaurants, which is named after the town that is home to the original Xiao Long Bao. Warning though, if you're on a time crunch, you might want to ask one of your friends or family members to stand in line and grab the buns for you! The lines get crazy!
One of the last stops on our tour day was Zhu Jia Jiao which is a water village located on the outskirts of Shanghai. Most of the transportation within Zhu Jia Jiao is by boat due to the many waterways. Once you step off the boat, you can walk around and cross bridges. We browsed gift shops and I found a boba place -- I couldn't resist! The boats themselves are quite interesting to ride and while Zhu Jia Jiao is no Venice, the history is just as interesting, mysterious and fascinating.
Farewell Dinner at 俏江南 [Qiao Jiang Nan]/South Beauty
The picture above was our view from the room where our farewell dinner was held. If you remember from my last post, I had said that there wasn't food that I didn't like while I was in China -- that wasn't an overstatement! If I could have access to the Xiao Long Bao, noodles and other delicious things that were at my disposable in China all the time... I'd need to be running a lot more than I am now! As much as I was dreading going to China for this trip, when it was time for me to leave, I felt almost sad that I didn't have more time to explore. I left China at a young age and what I remember as China from my two trips home prior to this is very different from what I experienced this year.
In just eight days time, I was able to climb the Great Wall (and toboggan down it), walk the same ground as past emperors, see the operations of multiple successful companies, and dine at some of the most fabulous as well as the best of the best of local places. I don't regret this trip at all -- in fact, this trip only made me want to visit China more often. China is so vast and has so much history behind it -- I can't wait to travel to Xi'An to see Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Terracotta Warriors and see different parts of the Yangtze River!