Thursday, 21 April 2011

April 10th to 13th ~ Shanghai, China

We were looking forward to Shanghai for a couple of reasons…first we were doing it on our own, no tours, so we could take our time, shop and be a little spontaneous. Second, we would be staying at the Sofitel and would have free wi-fi in our room so we could finally post what we did in Beijing on our blog.

Well we managed to get ourselves safely from the airport to the hotel and as soon as we got to our room we logged on to the internet…only to discover that China had foiled all our blogging plans (Anisa mentioned this a few posts ago). After we got over that technical hitch we decided to explore Nanjing Road which is the main shopping mall/street in Shanghai and the street that our hotel is on. It was very busy being the weekend and a little overwhelming with the sheer number of shops, multi level department stores and hawkers. Within 6 seconds of walking out of the hotel we were set upon by hawkers with colourful pamphlets showing their knockoff goods. “You wanna buy handbag, watch, dvd? What you wanna buy? Come with me, just look, not far.” We were like magnets drawing them all in. We just kept saying no and walking until they dropped off. It became so normal every time we stepped on to the street that we had to make a game of it. We would keep tally on each trip of how many hawkers would approach us and then try and pick the hawkers in advance and see if we were right. I think the most hawkers we had approach us in one trip up Nanjing Road was 33! It was a bit tiring sometimes and after awhile you get real good at ignoring them and just walking past them.

Lounging in Kieran and mine’s hotel room

The view from our hotel room

Nanjing Road by night

On Monday after countless unsuccessful attempts to purchase clothes (hard to find anything over a size 12!) or some toiletry items we decided to explore further afield and caught a taxi to Yu Gardens and Bazaar. We would catch a lot more taxis while in Shanghai and we loved them as they were plentiful and cheap. You could pretty much go anywhere in the city and pay just 12-15 yuan which is about $1.50-$2.30 AUD. We really enjoyed Yu Gardens and Bazaar…it is situated in an older part of town and the buildings are old style. Inside the main area are the actual gardens which have been there since the 1800’s. There are also bridges over a pond filled with golden fish and turtles and lots of shops and markets and eating areas. One of the best tea houses is also there on the top level and that is the balcony where we took the great shot of the city and the rooftops of Yu Garden. Yu Garden also had some of the good shopping where we found clothing shops that stocked western sizes…yay!! We also found a great chemist where we bought our toiletries and my face creams/products at a cheaper price.

Turtles sunbaking and giant goldfish swarming in the small lake within the Yu Gardens and Bazaar

The Shanghai skyline from the top level teahouse

Kieran’s panorama shot of the Shanghai skyline

Lunch at the Yu Gardens and Bazaar food court was a cafeteria style pick-and-choose adventure. There was no English so we just had to grab what looked good!

That night we went to ‘the Bund’ which is an area along the river and has a lot of the French style buildings. It was a great place to see the city buildings and boats lit up at night. We walked home along Nanjing Road looking for somewhere to eat and came across Pizza Hut…but not as we know it! There was no advertising of actual pizzas but there was fried rice, pasta, and steak. We decided to go in and try it out and discovered they did have pizzas in the nearly 20 page menu, along with snails and many other delicacies! The pizza was actually really good!

The view from the Bund

The Bund stretching along the riverside

Anisa and I with our Asian poses!

Kieran and I in Pizza Hut

Tuesday we went to The Shanghai Aquarium and it is the best aquarium we have ever been to. Everything was set out so well, clean and easy to access. A lot of the tanks were open so you could see from the top as well as from the clear glass sides. They have some amazing things like an escalator that goes under/through one of the tanks of fish, and a 150m long walk through tank with a travelator. We loved it! There were amazing fish and marine life. In the afternoon we did some more shopping.

A cute pufferfish

In the walkthrough tanks with some HUGE fish

Anisa’s favourite animals of the aquarium, the super cute seals! They were like cute, furry, sausages zipping back and forth across the tank, watching you!

A very vibrant jellyfish

More jellyfish

A huge tank or sharks and rays

In awe of all the fish!!

Anisa’s heaven… the aquarium giftshop! She bought a squishy seal pillow.

Just a quick side note to all the gals out there…I hate hanging out the washing like anyone else, but after seeing how the women in Beijing and Shanghai have to hang theirs out…I will not complain anymore! They are restricted in most cases to hang them onto thin wooden poles in their units and then extend the poles out their window onto wire or wooden frames and slot the poles into the frames. They also place coat hangers with clothes on them out their windows onto whatever is available. We saw bed sheets along with all variety of clothes being hung out the front of windows by industrious women!

This is a common sight all across Beijing and Shanghai!

Anyway, Wednesday was our last day in Shanghai and we had the tip that there were some good fake markets on the other side of the river so after packing our bags and leaving them at the hotel we went to the Science and Technology Museum. Instead of going inside we went underneath it next to the subway where there was a whole heap of shops and stalls. This was definitely our best and most fun shopping in Shanghai. We spent a few hours there and really got into the haggling/bargaining.  We were seasoned professionals by the end and knew what was a fair price to pay for all the goods (about one fifth of their original price). I (Lisa) was perhaps bargaining too hard and low for one girl’s liking and we kept going back and forth on price until I wouldn’t budge on my price of 100 yuan. In the end she yelled out, “You keep your 100 yuan!” and gave me a very angry look and then sat down and ignored me!! Another girl bargained really hard with me and followed me about 25 metres out of her shop to keep trying to get a better price from me. In the end she dragged me back to her shop (literally! She had me by the arm!) and we were both laughing and she said to me, “You so stubborn! You so hard.” I told her she was stubborn and she worked very hard for the sale. In the end I gave her 10 more yuan for my purchases and we both were happy!! We could barely fit in the taxi with all our shopping bags, but made it back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and make our way to the Cruise Ship!!

Me being dragged back to the shop to buy, buy, buy!!

After a quick check in at the ocean terminal, we were welcomed aboard the Ocean Princess where we immediately made our way to our stateroom. Having seen many Love Boat episodes…I always thought the cabins were pretty simple and plain but our room was lovely and we have our own balcony with chairs etc to sit and watch the ocean.

Our floating home away from home

This is sailaway…Goodbye Shanghai!! We are off on our big cruise adventure!!


  1. ahhhhhhhh - how AWESOME!!!!!! what a brilliant post - looks like SO MUCH FUN! Its so awesome to be able to catch up on what you're all getting up to while its happening - blog is awesome - love love love it! The kids have made me click on each picture so they can view them all as large as possible - Westie's crying because Aunty Lisa still has AGES before she comes home, but its so good to see all your smiling faces. Have to cackle over the haggling - dragging you back the shop - that's determined! Was it fun? I just can't imagine haggling - but I can imagine ignoring hawkers - I'm good at doing that here :)! Love you all - loved Kieran's panoramic shot - Shanghai looks amazing - can't wait to see what else is to come! Hope you're relaxing and enjoying some sunshine on that boat of yours :) :) :) Hugs and kisses and more hugs, The Francis' xxx xxx xxx

  2. omg amazing :D keep meee posted!!! ITS ALL SO INTERESTING!!! :D keep up the shopping anisa ;) hows the rooms on the boat? roomies and good? :)