Last week I spent 5 days in Shanghai as part of a conference with my husband and a few hundred other people. I managed to spend some time out on the streets of this gigantic, newish city of China even spending some of the hours walking along the Bund to the YuYuan Gardens by myself. I’ll always be a city girl but I don’t like being away from the calmness and beauty of nature for too long. Language and culture, architecture and foreign food are the gems of travel but without embracing the natural world, I go a little stir crazy.
When we weren’t networking and ‘conferencing’ we had an amazing time sight seeing. Highlights included these gardens, although not comparable to anything in Kyoto, Japan; The French Concession with all its tree lined streets and Art Deco architecture; rooftop bars on The Bund and the never ending hustle and bustle of the place. The Mogenshan Lu Art Precinct or M5o was interesting for me and I loved the shops at the Tianzifang. The barges on the Huangpu River never stop, and neither do the taxis for foreigners. Tip: go to a local 5 star hotel and stand in line, you’ll have better luck then trying to tackle one amongst the battery operated scooters who will not hesitate to run you over. It is not a city for meandering quietly through. With a population as big as Australia’s it is a city not for the faint hearted, but once you scratch the surface and accept the poor air quality you will find treasures. It seems that Shanghai is still is very disconnected from the West, which is a great thing, but it can be quite daunting and bewildering to embrace.
Food wise, all I can say is we are so lucky to live in Australia where we have access to authentic Chinese cuisine. Yes, there are some bad bao to be had here, but generally I wasn’t wowed by my limited taste of Shanghai delights. We did manage to squeeze in a food tour with Untour food tours and that was a great fun night that I can highly recommend if you want to see it all first hand and not have to worry about the language barrier.
I would go back, but perhaps go beyond the high-rises to see some of China’s rural and historical areas. Maybe my Mandarin will need to be slightly broadened beyond, ni hao, xiexie, ganbei and zaijian. (That’s hello, thank you, cheers and goodbye…essentials in any new country)
New ideas are already flowing in regards to by art but Japan you still have my heart.