LOCATION: SHANGHAI, CHINA
Discover with me, the characteristic sights of the melting pot that is Shanghai…
Day One in Shanghai / Taking a red-eye flight and arriving at 3am didn’t dampen my energy and willingness to get out and see what Shanghai had to offer. It was my first time to visit China and I didn’t know what to expect. With a packed itinerary in hand our first stop was the Jade Buddha Temple. The temples themselves were lavishly decorated and adorned with lush fabrics, high intricately patterned ceilings and an air that smelt of incense and serenity. The buddhas peered down reverently from above and peering at them, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of calm wash over me. The Bund was our next stop; the post-card, famous waterfront city line of Shanghai. My favourite part of the day had to be without a doubt the street food tour by UnTour Shanghai (fellow foodies take note). We spent the better part of the night, tasting and sampling dozens of culinary treats straight from fiery woks and fish tanks. My two favourites were the Pork Bun (savoury, slow cooked pork in-between bread that resembles naan bread) and the crayfish (paired with grilled mushrooms, eggplant, taro root and garlic sauce). On the tour we also sampled water snake (eeek!) and you’d be surprised to know that it actually tastes like chicken! Don’t worry if you don’t have an adventurous stomach, there’s plenty more delicious dishes that won’t make you feel like Bear Grylls. For more info on the food tour we took you can check out the link here. Even though I was completely lost in translation, its nice to connect with people through a common love of food.
Day Two in Hangzhou / It was an early start on day two to drive down four hours to the city of Hangzhou. Between bobbing heads dipping in and out of sleep, I wondered out at the expanse of land – China is such a large country and I made a note on my future bucket list to return and explore the country sides. Hangzhou is delightfully green and quiet compared to its modern, industrial sister city of Shanghai. We visited another temple and then packed into a small boat for a lake tour. Despite the gloomy, bed-weather and the fact that I couldn’t understand one word of the tour as it was all in Chinese, I was happy playing a game of I-Spy trying to spot Hangzhou Pagoda’s peeking out from the surrounding mountainsides.
Day Three in Shanghai / I woke up in the best way because the first agenda of the day was another food tour with UnTour Shanghai. Sampling authentic Chinese cuisine straight from the street vendors, food still piping hot from the pan, being surrounded by bustling locals was an incredibly immersive experience. Favourites were the fried dumplings and coconut water coffee brew. Again, I can’t recommend this tour enough – it is a must have on your Shanghai itinerary. Next stop was the Donping National Forest Park where I was devoured by the biggest mosquitos I’d ever seen in my life (note to self: bring repellent always). The canopy and lines of trees were impressive and when I wasn’t doing a swatty-dance to keep the mosquitos away, I enjoyed peering up at the soaring trunks of the trees. Towards the evening, we replaced soaring canopies with the soaring skyline of Shanghai City. Pictured with me is the #ShanghaiAndDry crew from left to right: Tracy, David, Len, Myself, Serica and Jaypee. This lot made the trip so fun and memorable and it wouldn’t have been half as fun without them!!
Day Four in Zhujiajiao Water Town, Shanghai / A famous water village established well over 1,700 years ago was our final destination on our Shanghai trip. Zhujiajiao is a bustling collection of alleys fitted with food stalls, restaurants and stores selling everything from trinkets, to rice wine to clothing. Walking around the cobbled streets, subtle details in the building facades and fittings catches your eye and you can gain a good sense of the traditional style of the old town.
LOCATION: SHANGHAI, CHINA
When Air Asia contacted me asking if I’d be interested in flying to Shanghai on their first flight of their new destination offering, I immediately accepted. Not knowing much about Shanghai other than it was a huge, modernised city where the words cosmopolitan come to mind, I had no idea what to expect. I avoided researching about it, an unusual move on my part being someone who shies away from spontaneity and boarded the plane with a budding sense of excitement. Sometimes travel is a trip best taken unplanned. What I discovered in Shanghai has changed my perception completely. This huge mega city has so many faces: the cosmopolitan and modern city scape meets quaint cafes and french influenced decor in the French Concession, European reminiscent skylines meets traditional Chinese streets where fresh delicacies are sold straight from the wok. You can step into a different part of the city of Shanghai and feel as if you are somewhere else in the world entirely. A huge thank you to Air Asia for the opportunity to explore Shanghai for myself. I hope my post convinces you to add Shanghai to your travel bucket list and to try its tastes and see its sights for yourself.
Photos by Catriona Gray and Jaypee Swing