Friday, 26 April 2013

Shanghai (via the iPhone)

So, I got fed up waiting for myself to download photos of our trip to Shanghai from the actual real-life camera, and I'm just going to have to write a blog post based solely round the photos I took on the iPhone. Perhaps at a later date I'll do a post with better/'proper' photos, but for now may I present Shanghai via the iPhone...

The holiday (well, it was a holiday for me and a business trip for hubby) began when we got to Manchester airport (having left DC with his grandparents in Wigan) and settled in for a coffee at Costa; then it was a short hop down to Heathrow (I'm pretty sure the aeroplane barely had time to get off the ground before we had landed again, but in the few minutes where the wheels did actually leave terra firma we were served a drink and a snack - not that any one had time to let their hot drinks cool before they were being collected up again, but that's not the point); once at Heathrow we had three hours to kill so we made our way to Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food and settled in for the duration - yum, that's Eggs Benedict (except with smoked salmon) for yours truly and a full English for hubby. We settled in so nicely that we ended up having to run for the plane; yes, that's right, we had a three-hour layover and still nearly missed our flight; plus I even managed to leave my coat behind and had to wait til we flew back to the UK to collect it. I know, even I find myself amazing sometimes,
After an uneventful ten-hour flight (watched Argo [excellent] and Hope Springs [dreadful]), we landed in Shanghai. Immigration and customs were a breeze, thankfully, and we were soon striding out through the terminal looking for the Maglev Station. We had considered getting a taxi to our hotel if we felt completely cream-crackered, but on arrival the adrenaline was coursing through our veins and we decided to give one of the world's fastest trains a try instead.
Within minutes we were at the end of the line at which point we picked up a taxi to take us to our hotel as we weren't in the mood to tackle the underground system.

We checked in to the hotel, went up to our room and promptly collapsed for three hours. And even after three hours it was a struggle to wake up and drag ourselves out of bed, but we knew we had to or else our body clocks would be all over the place (or even more over the place than they already were.) It was probably about 4pm (local time) by the time we ventured out onto the streets of the Pudong district of Shanghai and our destination was the largest shopping mall in China (as luck would have it within walking distance of the hotel.) What? You think I went all that way for the culture? Ha. You don't know me at all.

I took the proper camera out to capture our first glimpses of Shanghai, so you won't be getting any of those shots here, instead you'll have to make do with my rubbish iPhone photos and a lot of droning on.

Happily for me, the first place we stumbled on when entering the Super Brand mall was Starbucks - yeehaw; look at me, grinning like a jetlagged fool.
And so, with latte in hand, we took on some more of the mall (but not all of it - 13 floors and 250,000 square meters is a bit much, even for me.) Once we had tired of shopping (window shopping for the most part, highstreet/high end shopping in China is not cheap!) we headed for Din Tai Fung which was recommended in a guide book as a great place for steamed xiao long bao (buns/dumplings which are a speciality of the region.) And we weren't disappointed, Firstly, the restaurant has a great location at the very back (or front?) of the mall, overlooking the Huangpu River and across to the historic Bund, and secondly, the food was great - especially the pork dumplings.

Both photos from the Din Tai Fung website
By this time we were starting to flag, so it was time to head back to the hotel (via Starbucks, for a mocha.)

The next day (Monday), international businessman had to get up early and head off for his meeting; I had also intended getting up early and heading out to explore, but somehow that didn't happen and it was after 11am by the time I dragged myself out of the very comfortable bed.

It was a lovely spring day - beautiful blue skies, some warmth in the sun but still a hint of coolness/freshness in the air. My first stop was Costa in the IFC mall. I settled in with a latte, a guide book and my book club book, The Thread by Victoria Hislop (as already discussed here.)
It was a very popular spot and great for people-watching which, when twinned with coffee-drinking, has to be up there in my top ten (five, even?) of things to do. I'm nosey, so sue me.

Once I was fully caffeinated I headed into the mall; most of the shops were of little interest (clothes, shoes, handbags, all of the designer variety and all out of my price league [and, more likely, size range], however down in the depths was a supermarket - now this was more like it. Does anyone else take great pleasure in wandering round supermarkets/food shops when they're overseas? I love seeing whether it's possible to get food from 'home' when abroad, just on the off-chance that I was marooned/seconded/offered a bazillion pounds to stay. And I love finding new foods that you can't get at home. Luckily, Shanghai will suit very nicely if we ever have to live there. There are chocolates for me:
jellies for hubby
and DC's favourite biscuits (although at c.£3.50 a pack they might have to be rationed.)
Other essentials are also available.
After discovering that the major food groups were covered, I made my way to the nearest subway station, negotiated a ticket-buying machine and found my way to the platform. Luckily, the subway system in Shanghai is very easy to use; nearly all station names are written in English (as well as Chinese, obviously); all announcements are given in English (ditto Chinese) and the ticket machines also have an English page. And it's cheap, at approximately 30p per ride; not to mention sparkly and clean - come on, London, you've got a lot of catching up to do.
And a few minutes later I was on the other side of the river and wandering along Nanjing Road.

And what luck, just about lunchtime I stumbled across...
The Food Hall left me in no doubt that Shanghai is definitely a place I could call home (for a short while, at least.)
And, for the beginning of March, the weather wasn't too shabby either.
Before long it was time for me to jump back on the subway and head back across the river.
The Jin Mao TV Tower.
The IFC Mall.
Downtown Pudong district.

The view from our hotel room across the Huangpu River at night.

And during the day.

And that is where the photos from my iPhone end; there are more/better ones on the camera that I will definitely get round to downloading some time soon. The photos I took of the historic buildings along the Bund (former head office of HSBC, etc) are worth a look, if nothing else!


  1. It must have been a fascinating trip Justine, that's a super view from your room. Bit surprised you found Heinz beans and an M&S!!

    1. It is very Westernized there - I think there are actually 3 M&Ss in the city, plus Monsoon, Cath Kidston, and many, many other Western brand shops. I didn't have much time to discover 'old' Shanghai, but I really enjoyed my visit nonetheless.

  2. Lucky you! Hope you got to see a lot. I'm like you foreign grocery stores always fascinate me. I guess we're spoiled I always find foreign prices higher than at home.

    1. I was surprised by just how expensive the 'regular' shops were, not just the Western brands.

  3. Well I could survive on biscuits! Is that smog or fog?

  4. I could survive on biscuits (and coffee) too!
    The photo was taken early in the morning so it was probably misty; surprisingly we didn't experience any smog - perhaps that develops as the summer progresses.

  5. Wow, what a great opportunity! And it sounds like you made the most of it too.


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