miércoles, 11 de septiembre de 2013

Shanghai Express

Or should I say express Shanghai? The truth is that China is so big and in our 2013 Summer Trip we wanted to see so many things, in different parts of the country, that 2 weeks weren’t enough and we end up doing some express sightseeing. Neither in Shanghai nor in Beijing, Zhangjiajie, Guilin, Feng Huang and Honk Kong we have spent more than 3 days, but it was enough to see the coolest things. To arrive to Shanghai coming from our flight from Tokyo we catch the Maglev, the bullet train that literally floats and takes passengers from the Pudong International Airport into the city center in only 5 minutes. For my engineer guy friends this was when the cool things started; for me the best was yet to come. That same afternoon we walked for hours along the Bund. The word Bund means embankment and this is exactly what this extensive waterfront area in central Shanghai is. And although it might look close and little in some maps, don’t let them fool you. Shanghai is one of the largest cities in the world, the largest in China and, of course, in here nothing is close or little. So, if you are heading to Shanghai prepare yourself to “lose” a whole afternoon in this area that is as photographed and enjoyed by tourists as it is photographed and enjoyed by locals (the first thing we saw when we put our feet in the Bund was professional photographs taking pictures of newlywed with the Pearl Tower in the horizon). And, to end this beautiful promenade with glory, I would suggest you take an early night boat along the river to have a closer look of some of the buildings that make Shanghai skyline the best skyline I’ve seen in my life. Or you can also cross the river, towards the financial district, and go to the Pearl Tower. From the windows (and floor) of the Transparent Observatory, 259 meters above the ground level, the view of the day setting on this huge city is unforgettable. 

But because part of Shanghai's charm is given by the fact of it being a city of contrasts, don’t forget to visit its most traditional side: the Yuyuan Gardens; the Flower, Bird, Fish & Insect Market; the French Concession and, why not, Zhujiajiao (the Venice of Shanghai). 

And leave the best for last! For the perfect closure, I advise you to visit Tianzifang, a former hutong transformed into a modern little village where every door is a cool and hip clothing or decoration shop, a bar or restaurant and where you can find several art galleries. But, if you are really an art freak like me, you definitely have to visit M50 Creative Park before you leave. This second place also resembles an old hutong, but this time it was turned into an art district where every warehouse is now an art gallery. It is a little bit out of the city center, but it totally deserves the extra minutes you spend going there with the metro and then walking from the metro station to the Creative Park. During my visit I felt in love with Hu Shunxiang work, that I came across in Suomei Art, and seeing my passion the lady from the gallery actually offered me the catalogue from the exhibition. A beautiful book with hard cover that I carried in my backpack for the following two weeks everywhere we went around China. 

So, as you can see, despite the short amount of time we had to spend in each city I think that we did a pretty good job discovering Shanghai.
And also to see more pictures (taken from me, but without the LOMO fish eye), please check here

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