Shanghai to Hangzhou

22 04 2010

We spend the last days in Shanghai just wandering around the city center, checking out the stores in the French Concession and the skyline of the Bund.  We didn’t really do much in Shanghai in the sense of seeing places – more just went with the flow, which was a very nice change.  The only museum or site we visited was the Museum of Contemporary Art. 

From Shanghai we took the very modern and fast fast-train to Hangzhou (180 km. in 80 minutes), described by Marco Polo as "beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world."  The city has a total population over six million people and circles around it main attraction the West Lake.

We spent today biking around the West Lake.  The lake is surrounded by a very beautiful park with decorated gardens of the finest sort.  We can certainly accept Polo’s description of Hangzhou but we’re also sure that he came when the sun was shining and the mist/smog was a lot less then it was today.

The weather gods is still not nice enough to us.  Even though the temperature hovers around 20°C it feels very cold – nothing like Icelandic 20 degrees.  Only Shanghai was warm enough but a bit too wet.  We are hoping that spring is just around the corner here in China.

Tomorrow we will take the bus towards Beijing again.  We will make one stop on the way though and visit the city of Nanjing.

Not Shanghaied yet

18 04 2010

Shanghai is China’s largest city and and the largest city proper in the world with a population of over twenty million.  We’ve been in Shanghai now for two days and the difference from Beijing and Xi’an is obvious.  The city is ultra modern, international and slick with huge skyscrapers towering the streets everywhere you look.  The city feels a lot brighter than Beijing and has less air pollution and somehow has a better all-around wibe to it.

Coming to Shanghai has been a great relive in two ways.  First, there are signs in English almost everywhere and a lot of people speak English so the language barrier is a lot lower than elsewhere.  Secondly, it doesn’t take a local to find good food here in Shanghai :)  There seems to be good restaurants everywhere you look so the problem of finding something decent to eat turns into the luxury problem of choosing what to eat: Chinese-, western- or Japanese food.

In the MBA I had two Chinese classmates – you have already met Yong but Amanda lives in Shanghai.  Amanda met us at our hostel after we arrived and took us to lunch for some Hong Kong style food. 

We had deep fried rice cubes that tasted a bit like french fries, pork and shrimp dumplings, stir-fried veal, fish and meat balls, chicken feet and cake for dessert.  Everything was really good, especially the dumplings, the deep fried rice and the dessert cake.  The chicken feet were a bit weird but a lot better than we though.  It seems like China continues to surprise us with some fantastic food!

After lunch Amanda took us to town and showed us around, gave us tips on where to shop and where to go for the main attractions before she had to dash off for her best friend’s wedding.  We continued to stroll around the city and enjoy the sights.

Initially we had planned on staying for three nights in Shanghai but we’re considering adding another night before exploring the neighboring cities of Nanjing and Hangzhou.  Shanghai seems such a nice city to just stroll around, enjoy the food, sip tea and watch the people pass by.