A tourist in Shanghai
This past year I have been living and working in Shanghai but, to be honest I haven’t done much here. My weekdays were spent in the small triangle between the office, the apartment and the gym, and on the weekends I went back to Suzhou. So I didn’t really know if Shanghai had changed much outside of my small Jing’an area. But a couple of weeks ago my friend Julia came for a quick visit, so I took two days off and we did touristy things in Shanghai.
I met Julia in 2007 in Beijing. We were both attending Beijing Normal University and even lived across the hall from each other for a semester. Then we reunited in Shanghai in 2010, when we were both working in the Expo. We had already been to all the usual sites, but we still went again to check if everything was still in place.
The first stop was Tianzifang (田子坊), a block of old houses and alleys that must have been lovely some time ago, but now has sold its soul to the RMB god. Anyway, we still like going there and see what’s new. As usual, there were a lot of tourists there, even though it was a Tuesday morning, and all the shops were selling overpriced crap. The latest trend (there were at least 5 shops selling it) are hand creams and other lotions in packaging reminiscing of the 1930s. In fact I bought several of these on Taobao to give to my cousins in Spain, but I didn’t know they were a “thing”.
I think it is amazing that old people have managed to continue living in these houses. I saw an old lady daydreaming by her door. I wonder what she thinks of the overexposure of its home! I am also curious about how they cope with the high prices in the area, as I am sure they have soared in recent years. I hope at least the wet market is not too expensive, as anyway not many tourists will go buy groceries… right?
For lunch, we went to a restaurant that seemed Taiwanese and was selling all-day breakfast. So our meal consisted in sweet soy milk (a lot of it) and a rice roll! Most of the patrons were also eating youtiao (fried dough). I didn’t know Chinese people were so fond of this Chinese style brunch!
In the afternoon we took the subway to People’s Square and walked towards the Bund. We made a technical stop in the big Fuzhou Lu bookstore, where Julia bought two novels in Chinese.
The Bund was not too crowded. Yay! Next to us there were two Chinese girls trying to take a selfie with the skyline. I suggested I help them take a picture and then they take one of us. I took a super nice picture with their phone, all of the buildings were in the background. Then they took my camera and… well. Let’s say they didn’t seem to understand the concept of taking a picture in a place. Hey, maybe they thought the picture I took was crap because I cut their legs off and all the stupid buildings were in the image!
Then we took the ferry to cross to the other side of the river. This is my favourite way of crossing, as you don’t have to walk back to Nanjing East to take the subway. Plus you see the views! To get the ferry you only have to walk south (that is, with the river on your left) for like 5 minutes and walk down the stairs in front of the building that looks like a mini lighthouse. The ferry is only 2 kuai and you can pay with the subway card.
For dinner we went back to Puxi and had some colourful xiaolongbao.
The second day we went to the 1933 building, an old slaughterhouse where, according to my friend Yang Bing, it is so cold inside because of all the souls of the animals that were killed there. This building is now a mixture of a mall and an office building and the center, where you could feel the cold the most (the temperature was really several degrees lower than outside) was closed down so we couldn’t feel the souls. The other good thing about this building were the views from the rooftop, but now it has been closed. So I will have to remove this building from the list of places I tell people to visit in Shanghai. The architecture is still unusual and there are some art galleries inside, for people interested in that.
Then we walked from 1933 to the north of the Bund. It is a nice walk as the high rises start appearing in the distance. There are also some cute old houses in the area. We walked until we reached the river. There is a park and almost no one there. I prefer the view of Pudong from this side, although you cannot reach the shore (there is a closed area).
And there goes my last holidays for this year. Bwaaah! I still have two more days that I might keep for next year…