"Shanghai the Oriental Pearl" Shanghai by bitbit

Shanghai Travel Guide: 3,191 reviews and 8,306 photos

First trip to Shanghai

I could hardly contain my excitement as we touched down at the Pudong National Airport on the 12 Nov 2004. I have heard so much about Shanghai and her developments and I was finally able to witness it for myself.

My very first encounter with Shanghai's rapid development was the Maglev train that ply between Pudong National airport and the city in just 7mins (a similar trip on a motorised vehicle will take approximately an hour!). The high-speed train uses magnetic levitation technology (hence called mag-lev) and can allow for speeds of up to 500+km/hr although Shanghai has fixed the maximum speed at 430km/hr due to environmental considerations. Having taken the Maglev myself, it really felt like flying at ground level.

During the remaining of my stay in Shanghai, I was awed and deeply impressed by the beautiful towering buildings along the Huang Pu River, the mega departmental stores brightly lit by neons, the drive of the Chinese people to succeed and the rich history and culture of this Oriental Pearl.

Shop till you drop

I have to admit that one of the main reasons of my overwhelming excitement about Shanghai is the vibrant retail scene. My husband looked genuinely worried when he noticed that I have brought along every single credit card that I am in possession of!

I had selected (much to my husband's disapproval as he can SO read my mind!) a budget hotel along Nanjing walking street (which is one of THE shopping districts in Shanghai) for a couple of nights' stay. We were almost blinded as we first stepped foot on Nanjing Road. Neonlights were everywhere...it's as if they were all shouting out to tourists to visit the shops!

Even though it was raining quite abit in Shanghai when we were there, the shoppers were the least deterred by the rain and the shopping areas were almost always packed from day to night. Crowds thronged the major shopping districts such as Nanjing Road, Huai Hai Rd, Xi Zang Rd and the Shanghai Old Street (Shanghai Lao Jie)...tourists and locals alike - were all seen lugging their purchases with contented looks on their faces.

As for me, I had to return to Singapore with an additional luggage! Guess I went wild shopping but I really couldn't resist even if I had wanted to because things were just so cheap (sometimes as much as close to 10times cheaper than in Singapore!). Excuses aside, but Shanghai is really quite a shopping paradise!

Food, people and buildings

Being a Singaporean Chinese, I'm quite used to having Chinese food but during my trip to Shanghai, I found that the chinese there love to eat pork (and the real fatty ones too!) and I'm not exactly a pork fan. Vegetarians and muslims will experience difficulties finding suitable food to eat. Must-try foods are dumplings, chinese buns (known as bao zi), chinese noodles and probably seafood (steamed crabs, prawns) 'cos they are so cheap. More exotic foods such as duck's tongue, pig's blood, cow's *** and snake meat might not be suitable for the faint-hearted.

Shanghainese are very driven people and they can be pretty shrewd and aggressive at times. I guess having to live in a noisy city (deafening noises from traffic and crowds!) will require that you speak very loudly so as to be heard. I was quite amused to hear this really dainty chinese girl speak very loudly (practically shouting) for her image was such a soft-spoken one.

A couple of things some Shanghainese do that I find quite appalling - (1) spitting and peeing everywhere and anywhere and (2) shoving, pushing and jumping queues.

If tall buildings equate economic growth and development, Shanghai is definitely well ahead with her many towering and impressive structures such as the Jin Mao tower, Oriental Pearl TV Tower, King Tower, the in-progress Shanghai World Financial Centre and other buildings.

  • Last visit to Shanghai: Nov 2004
  • Intro Written Nov 18, 2004
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