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Notes From Almost 2 Months In Shanghai, Spring 2012

Notes From Almost 2 Months In Shanghai, Spring 2012

Jul 8th, 2012, 11:19 AM
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Notes From Almost 2 Months In Shanghai, Spring 2012

I don't see this as a TR, my priority was to spend time with my 100 year-old mum and visit family, relatives, classmates and friends, minimum sightseeing. As major attractions and popular restaurants don't change, I have topped my 2007 Notes for your reference.

TRANSPORTATION -- The Metro has expanded to more than a dozen lines right before the 2010 World Expo, with english directions and low fares, very convenient. Line 2 goes between the airports PVG and SHA, several stops downtown, so do the airport buses. The Maglev from PVG doesn't end at downtown, you can transfer to LInes 2 and 7, or take a cab. All city buses now have HVAC, altho slower, nice to ride during non-rush hours.

The cabs are still inexpensive, most drivers are polite but no foreign language so have your destination written out in chinese. The lighter colored cabs, white, cream, silver, beige, gold, pale blue, light turquoise etc. have better reputation, red, dark red and other ones appear to be featured more in the local news for problems.

If time is limited or have mobility concerns, the Big Bus Tours can be considered. Hop-on, hop-off, 1 ticket 3 routes, and in 8 languages. www.bigbustours.com

FOOD -- Eating is the #1 national pastime almost to the point of obsession, especially the quest for freshness. Due to the increase in income of the locals, more outdoor and indoor "wet markets" have appeared in the neighborhoods. Locals shop daily for fresh produce and meat, live poultry, fish, shellfish, eels, etc. swimming in tubs of fresh water. I will list an easy place for you to visit under SIGHTS. More locals are enjoying restaurants so the popular ones are usually packed. Many travelers stay around the People's Square and some at the Yu Garden area, the restaurants I am listing are close by. For those staying in the old french concession, see my 2007 Notes. Ask your hotel to check if they are still in business as I haven't checked them all.

Note shanghai food is different from the mouth-numbing Hunan and Sichuan food, some find it bland, not for me. I grew up on it and don't care for spicy food from any country. I have listed different styles.

Sheng Da Cheng, 636 East Nanjing Road, 130 years old time-honored authentic shanghai food.

Old Shanghai Lane Cuisine, 300 East Nanjing Road, Floor 6, despite being in an office tower, delicious shanghai dishes and Bund view, had GTG with the Smith famly there.

Wang Bao He, 603 Fuzhou Road, specializes in shanghai freshwater food

Xiao Nan Guo, mouth-watering shanghai food. Check location with your hotel as I heard they are morphing into high-end with possible name change.

Lost Heaven at the Bund, 17 East Yanan Road, lovely Yunan small dishes in lovely southwest China minority decor, popular bar

Jia Jia Tang Bao -- see my topic written specially on this place.

South Memory, 299 Nanjing East Road, spicy Hunan food.

Old Bejing Duck Restaurant on the Bund, try the tender roast duck (different than cantonese ones) if you didn't have duck in Beijing.

Yunan Road Food Street, short walk from People's Square, amazing 3 blocks with dozens of restaurants, try the lamb hot pot there (even has Shanghai’s 1st western restaurant Deda that is over 100 years old and very good, I had the lamb chops).

South Beauty, 881 Yanan Middle Road, mouth-numbing Sichuan food in attractive old building.

LuBoLang, across from Yu Gardens, crowded place where Clinton ate, have lunch when you are gift shopping in the area.

Shanghai Old Resturant, 242 Fuyou Road (Old Street) a block from Yu Gardens, original shanghai food

Yangzhou Restaurant, 345 Middle Fujian Road, short walk from hotel, earthy local dishes, i.e. steamed fish, drunken chicken (immersed in wine).

Bi Feng Tang, 1333 Nanjing Road West, affordable place with wide variety of food including cantonese dim sum popular with locals.
Shanghainese is offline  
Jul 8th, 2012, 11:30 AM
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Thanks Shanghainese!!!!!
Printing our for reference.

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jul 8th, 2012, 11:36 AM
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We are looking forward to trying out some of these. Thanks
kmkrnn is offline  
Jul 8th, 2012, 12:54 PM
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Great info. Wish you were going to be there to share a meal with in October.
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Jul 8th, 2012, 01:09 PM
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My pleasure, have a great trip, you know you are all welcome to GTG with us in northern California.

I topped my Notes from 2007, HT printed it out last year. Mahalo, HT, we keep missing each other and I won't be able to go to Boston in Oct. Alooha!!
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Jul 8th, 2012, 01:49 PM
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thanks
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Jul 8th, 2012, 04:07 PM
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Good info - thanks!
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Jul 8th, 2012, 05:23 PM
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Sorry about the Yangzhou (a city between Shanghai and Nanking famed for food) Restaurant reference to a hotel, it was cut from an email for a friend staying at the Sofitel Hotel.

Hanuman -- if you need more info on Hangzhou, let me know. Where are you staying?
Shanghainese is offline  
Jul 8th, 2012, 05:29 PM
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Shanghainese - Probably the Four Seasons or the Hyatt. Going to rent a car and go to Yiwu for a day and then the rest of the time will spent in Hangzhou. Almost 100 degrees at the moment!
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Jul 8th, 2012, 07:30 PM
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Hanuman -- Good, don't go the lakeside Shangri-la, at one time first class but sadly everything went downhill.

Hangzhou is locked in by mountains, easily goes to 105 or higher. You mean rent car/driver, right? Mrs Hanuman will fill the car after Yiwu, the wholesale capital of China.
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Jul 8th, 2012, 10:09 PM
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That's right we will rent a car + driver for Yiwu. Heard that it's a two hour's drive from Hangzhou so might be exploring the fast train option instead.

You're right the temperature should be like Bangkok in the summer time!
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Jul 8th, 2012, 10:46 PM
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Probably the Four Seasons or the Hyatt. Going to rent a car and go to Yiwu for a day and then info on Hangzhou, let me know. Where are you staying
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Jul 9th, 2012, 08:34 AM
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Hanuman -- fast train and a cab to where you want to go

http://www.chinatrainguide.com/hangz...tion/yiwu.html

Kitty_M -- what are you trying to say?!
Shanghainese is offline  
Jul 13th, 2012, 08:14 AM
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SIGHTS/SITES -- Attractions don't change much, these are my thoughts.

The BIG BUS TOURS is listed above under Transportation.

Watertowns: Ranks high on my list. They are different from gardens, which are of the unique south of Long River aka Yangtze River style. The large major gardens are in Suzhou but you can also see them in Shanghai and the watertowns. Watertowns are criss-crossed by canals lined with narrow walkways linked by stone bridges. The food specialities are pork dishes and the famous canal fish, shrimp and crab. Each town has its local candy, snacks and crafts.

In defense of Zhouzhuang, which many feel is too touristy, it is the largest one first recognized with world-class status. If you are deep into chinese culture, arts and literature, this is the best example, has a longer history than Shanghai. It is about 1.25 hours drive, suggest leaving Shanghai after lunch and spend the night (the night scene by the canals are very attractive).

If Suzhou is on your itinerary, spend the morning there and overnight in Tongli (40 minutes from Suzhou). The smaller and equally as charming Zhujiajiao 50 minutes away can be done in 1/2 day, and it doesn't charge an entrance fee like the larger 6 watertowns.

The garden to see in Shanghai is the Yu Gardens, small with an entrance fee, surrounded by the bustling old town market. Skip it if you are going to Suzhou.

Sadly, old Shanghai has all but disappeared in the past 25 years. 5 minutes walk from Yu Gardens is Fuyou Road aka Old Steet, a few blocks have been preserved. The other area is Dian Zi Fang, aka Art Alley in the old french concession, the old lane residences have been preserved with the ground floor remodeled and rented to art galleries, boutiques, tea/coffee shops and restaurants. The locals live next door or upstairs and go about their daily lives ignoring the tourists peeking into their living quarters especially the kitchen. The wet market is next to the entrances to the lanes. The newest
shiny mega mall SML (sun, moon, lxxxx) is across the street.
This is a very lively area where you see a good slice of local life now punctured with tourists.

The Wangpu River divides Shanghai in 1/2, take the 1-hour cruise if your legs are tired, I suggest take a short walk in daylight on the Pudong (east) side, and another short stroll in the evening on the Bund promenade (Puxi west side).

Walks in the french concession around the Wukang Road area lined with parisian plane trees among old european mansions is relaxing if you need a hour's break away from the hustle/bustle of the city. You also see where the wealthy locals and expat CEOs live.

Spend an hour early morning in any park, it's people watching at its best, taichi, ballroom dancing and even parents match-making for their kid, the matchmaking fair in April drew 40,000 visitors and vendors. The larger ones are People's Square, Fuxi Park and Xiangyang Park.

Xitiandi is not original buildings, they have been totally renovated into a high-end shopping/dining/entertainment area, not on my list of must-sees.
The same for the newly opened #16 Old Docks complex, ghost town becomes alive when the bars, clubs and dance halls open.
The new Suzhou River cruise is no comparison to the Wangpu River one, despite the Amsterdam looking boats, there is nothing much to look at along the river.
Some of the 2010 World Expo pavilions such as the Italian and some others have reopened, word is only locals go visit.
Shanghainese is offline  
Jul 13th, 2012, 09:13 AM
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Thanks again Aline for doing this. Nice to have a locals viewpoints and reco's.
Would it be possible to do a day trip to Suzhou and Tongli from Shanghai if we hire a car and driver?

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jul 14th, 2012, 07:43 AM
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HT: Long day and some walking.

Driver should be familiar with Suzhou, chinese GPS are not always accurate. Prices are somewhat higher since this is out of Shanghai driving, the highway tolls should be included in the quote. No need to pay till you return to the hotel. Leave at 7:30 am, morning traffic is very heavy at 8. Even if you invite him/her, the driver will not join you for lunch. When you return to the hotel and you think the driver offered good service, add a small amount and tell him it's for his lunch, don't mention it's a tip. Oh, get his mobile #.

1st stop Tiger Hill, stone steps up a gentle slope, lovely scenery. Next stop the Humble Administrator Garden, large and the best example of the classical gardens. The Suzhou gardens were built by or for rich officials, merchants and scholars. No need to squeeze in another garden as I'll recommend one in Tongli.

Head to Tongli, get a map with english on it, and have lunch at a canal-side eatery that has outdoor seating, crowded places = good food. Take a boat ride. Afterwards go to the small but beautiful Tuisi Garden. Aah, the Sex Museum is very popular and "educational", it was so crowded when it opened in Shanghai that it was moved to Tongli. Last but not least, end the visit with some shopping, the fresh water lake pearls are of good quality and cheaper than in Shanghai, they will string them while you drink tea. I also like the locally-produced cotton cloth with white flowers & bamboo made into clothes, tablecloths, etc. The snacks with sesame seeds are very tasty.

You'll hit rush-hour traffic on your way back to the hotel, snooze in the car.
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Jul 15th, 2012, 07:52 PM
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Thanks again Aline for all the added info.....gives us a lot to think about our plan for Tongli. Probably would be better if we would spend the night in Tongli.....maybe not. Linda loves the idea of having a pearl necklace strung for her while we have lunch, lol.

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jul 15th, 2012, 08:04 PM
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i'm great with pearls-- pop-it beads
rhkkmk is online now  
Jul 17th, 2012, 08:34 AM
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HT: The lodging in old town Tongli are rustic inns like the extension of the locals' homes, downtown Tongli has some hotels mainly for chinese business people.

rhkkmk: you mean you swallow them whole? I have only heard swallowing pearl powder, which is ground up pearls, allegedly known for softening and whitening your skin ...
Shanghainese is offline  
Jul 17th, 2012, 08:42 AM
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pop-it beads were a craze in the usa in the 50's.. i was joking..
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