Apr 23, 2012

Amazing Shanghai

According to a recent China Daily article, the population of Shanghai has reached 23 million. It is an amazing city where building is going on everywhere but the touristic areas are easy to get around. We had a two-day ticket for the hop-on, hop-off Big Bus tour. It is the best way to get a feel for the city. Per usual we took it around twice before getting off. The weather was beautiful, flowers were blooming, and the trees leafing out. The ticket included a one-hour boat tour on the Haungpu River. We opted to pay a little extra to sit in the boat’s VIP section. It afforded us the best view and we were able to walk out to the front of the boat which was closed off to other passengers. It also included a can of soda and potato chips. The river divides Shanghai with the Bund on one side and the newer area, Pudong, on the other. Also included in the Big Bus ticket was admission to the observation deck on the 87th floor of the Jinmao Tower for an view of the amazing skyline of Shanghai 3000+ skyscrapers (more than NYC) with two thousand more in production.

Even though the Big Bus ticket included admission to the Jade Temple we opted to visit the beautiful Jinh’an Temple where there is a golden statue of the Laughing Buddha and China’s largest Jade Buddha. We walked along the Bund, the waterfront area lined with the old classic buildings where the height of buildings are restricted. There are shops, dining outlets, and ferry docks plus great views of the river and modernistic Pudong Island. There is a Sightseeing Tunnel under the river that connects the Bund to Pudong Island near the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower. The five-minute ride in capsular cars is a multimedia experience ala Disney.

The city has lovely parks including People’s Square Park with hundreds of doves and a fountain with a scheduled musical display. The park is also home to the Shanghai Museum, considered the best in China. We started at the top floor in the Hall of Chinese Ethnic Minorities. They have 56 ethnic groups each with their own beautiful but distinct clothing styles. Interesting, because today everyone seem to want to dress in Western-style clothing.

We ended out stay in China at one of the world’s most luxurious hotels – The Peninsula. There is a lot to love about the hotel. They have live music in various places in the hotel. Nothing is more elegant than enjoying high tea while listening to a string quartet. One of my favorite places in the evening for a cocktail is the Peninsula’s Salon de Ning. It is named after a fictional Shanghai socialite who is a world traveler and international hostess. The intimate “salon” bar has a small main area with comfy seating plus four private alcoves designed to represent her favorite destinations. Madame de Ning is my alter ego!

John and I had been traveling in Asia for three months so we planned our time at the Peninsula to be “us” time. The accommodations are exquisite. We spent one afternoon at the spa and then lounged around their beautiful indoor pool. We hated to leave but felt better prepared to make the 14-hour flight from Shanghai to Newark and then on to Syracuse. All-in-all a 24-hour trip from door to door.