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Shanghai

By marksams, 03/24/2010 - 11:54

After being persuaded to go to Xi'an via Wuhan, we decided en-route (and after reading the lonely planet guide on loan from another tourist) that it made sense to head for Shanghai. Xi'an could wait a few days whilst we escaped the tourist trail and enjoyed a city break.

Shanghai was impressively modern and westernised beyond all expectations. Having spent what seemed like an age eating rice (and other stuff) with chopsticks, we caved in and visited Starbucks, Haagen Dazs, Dunkin Donuts and Pizza Hut - all of which are positioned as quality (and relatively expensive) establishments. Pizza Hut was so impressive, we went twice.

The highlight for us was watching day turn into night from our vantage point in a swish cocktail bar on the 91st floor of the World Financial Centre (one of the highest buildings in China), where the price of a drink was cheaper than the entrance fee for other lofty viewpoints in the area. Much like Hong Kong harbour at night, the city glowed with flashing neon lights, creating a not-to-be missed spectacle in itself.

Other notable points of interest were the site of the first 'Communist Party of China' meeting, the Shanghai museum and Nanjing Road (apparently the most commercially prosperous street in China). Unfortunately, due to preparations for the World Expo 2010, to be hosted in Shanghai, a few places like the 'Bund', normally a relaxing riverside location, were turned into building sites. The 'Bund Sightseeing Tunnel', highlighted in one of our in-flight magazines, also turned out to be no more than a short & tacky fairground ride. If in Shanghai, our advice is to take the 2 Yuan ferry across the water instead!

Shanghai is probably our most favourite destination in China so far, not just because it is westernised, cosmopolitan, and most of the people in hotels and restaurants speak some English, but because it is clean, orderly, and more civilised compared with the rest of China we have seen so far - we don't feel like aliens, and there is practically none of the usual tourist hassle to buy maps, tickets and other junk; the locals here seem more wealthy (significant financial district/comparable to Hong Kong), and are more preoccupied with looking good and 'being seen' than ripping off tourists.

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