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Trip Report China Trip Report

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January 2016 - 4 Nights in Shanghai, 3 in Hangzhou and 2 in Nanjing.

Second trip to China - first was to Beijing, Yangshou and Hong Kong.

What I saw - Shanghai: The Bund, Jingan Temple, YuYuan Gardens, Shanghai Urban Planning Museum, Jewish Refugee Museum, Shanghai History Museum, Huangpu River Cruise, Shanghai Acrobat Show
Hangzhou: West Lake, Lifeng Pagoda, Grand Canal, Grand Canal Museum, China Museum of Knives, Swords and Scissors ("knives are not only tools we use every day, but also shape our thoughts and feelings) and China Umbrella Museum
Nanjing: Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum, Nanjing Massacre Memorial Museum, Imperial Examinations Museum

What I liked:
*The Shanghai skyline at night. During the day it's covered in fog and haze. At night it's amazing, on both sides of the river
*Huangpu River boat cruise - The best and most peaceful way to see the city.
*Shanghai History Museum - Surprisingly interesting; some locals were actually stepping over the ropes into the exhibits to pose for pictures
*YuYuan Garden - Nice early in the AM, before everyone else gets there
*Shanghai Acrobat show - Really amazing to watch
* Zhujiajiao - Nice water town, despite the huge crowds
*Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum - Inside it is no big deal, but the site of it at the top of 300 + steps is well worth the visit.
*Nanjing Massacre Memorial - But go when it first opens, as it gets really crowded very quickly.
*Costs - The exchange rate is good, but prices for food, metro, trains, taxis, uber and most other things are quite cheap to begin with.
* Lack of hassle - aside from a woman at the left-luggage desk at Shanghai Railway Station who wanted 80 yuan to store my bag for one hour, everyone was helpful and completely honest

What I didn't like:
*Hangzhou - This was the part I was most looking forward to and the part that was most disappointing. There are some willow trees and a pagoda here and there, but the lake is surrounded by Starbucks, there is construction everywhere and you are never far from the main road with all the traffic and the noise. Not what I expected. The people are nice though.
* The crowds everywhere - despite this being off-season.
* Weather - Cloudy almost every day and when the sun does appear, there is still a thick haze.
* Lack of English - of all the places I've travelled, this was the most difficult to communicate. Street signs, metro maps and museums descriptions are all in English, but hardly anyone I encountered spoke any English and away from the main tourist sites, few restaurants have English menus, even in the malls. Most people were very polite and patient however.
*Smoking and spitting. Perhaps its a tie between spitting and honking horns for which can be considered the official sound of China.

In the end, my previous trip to China was more enjoyable than this one. Perhaps I should have chosen a different time of the year, different sites or a different country.

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