Tuesday, 1 January 2013

All bundled up in Shanghai this Christmas holiday!

too early for snow
This Christmas break it was a toss up between Osaka and Shanghai and since Osaka was already fully booked, we ended up in Shanghai where it was freezing at minus 3 degrees!!!  Brrrrrr!!

Shanghai is a modern metropolis, the largest of the People's Republic of China with a population of 22 million people (note that Manila has 1.6 million).  Because it is located at the heart of the Yangtze River delta, it has established itself as an important sea port and is now considered the biggest commercial and financial center in China.

My sister Chato who frequents China a lot, practically planned everything from the accommodations (the boutique Philip Stark-designed Jia Hotel on Nanjing Road), sight seeing, shopping, where to eat and the walks. Mind you, they were looooong walks.

siblings Ricky, Chato and Roca with nephews Enzo and Clark
Our first day stop was the Shanghai Art Museum to check out the works of ancient and contemporary works. Then a walk down the longest shopping area called Nanjing Road, a 6-km stretch filled with shops and pedestrians. On the way to the Bund, we were lucky to spot one of the venues of the ongoing Shanghai Biennale.

The Bund felt so much like Paris with its 4-km long row buildings dating back the colonial era. Directly across the river is  the famous 'Pudong', a former swampland and now houses the most modern architectural buildings - the Oriental Pearl Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai tower.

There are two ways to get to Pudong, either through the underground walkway or go through the Light and Sound tunnel show.

hot Xiaolong bao at Yuyuan Garden
I just love our hotel's location! As Chato said, its all about location, location, location. We just walked everywhere.

The next day we set off to to Qi Tan Di and Yuyuan Garden, a 2-hectare garden built during the Ming Dynasty. It was packed with locals and they were making a beeline for the dimsum at Nanxiang Steamed Bun restaurant. Of course we followed suit and ordered four huge servings of hot steaming xiaolong boa!

Next stop was Dontai  Road market to check out the antiques. We were the only braved souls out that day because it was raining! Luckily though the shopkeepers were more than happy to bargain with us.  And finally, our last stop was the art and trendy art studios at Taikang Lu.  It was too cold to head out so we ended having Italian dinner in our  hotel.  And  later, checked out the night life with pinoy advertising executive Jeffrey.

at the tea house
Enzo in a Mao-inspired trapper hat
ersatz trinkets at Dongtai market

The walkway in Shanghai
It was a sunny day and Chato decided that we walk all the way to the  French concession . Aptly called, it was  established in April 1849 to create a territory for a French settlement. The concession lasted from 1849 until 1946, when the French Vichy government turned over the area.

This is one of the most beautiful places in Shanghai with its Eucalyptus trees. Do walk and arm yourself with a guidebook!  The Tudor mansions have been home to notable Chinese historical figures - like the Chinese Republic founder Sun Yat-sen, Mao's second in command Zhou Enlai and the British Morris estate (founder of China Daily News).

at the French Concession with Jeffrey 
After walking and shopping, we ended up eating in Lost Heaven for its excellent Yunnanese cuisine. Then more shopping and had our pre-New Year dinner at Mr and Mrs Bund one of the modern eatery places by Paul Pairert.

Our last day was a quick stop at the Modern Contemporary Museum to check out Qui Jie's large scale works on pencil and paper.

Despite the distance from the city, Chato insisted that we board the Maglev train from Longyang Road station to Pudong International Airrport. Well, I must agree that it's worth seeing. It is the first and only operational high-speech magnetic levitation train in the world. It only took us 7-minutes to the airport.

Roca dwarfed by Qui Jie's works
Must do:
1. Eat - Mao's favorite Hongshao Rou aka braised pork in Xin Ji Shi, Yunnanese cuisine in Lost Heaven in Gaoyou Lu, thinly sliced pork in South Beauty, Din Tai Fung for xiaolong bao and trendy places like Mr. and Mrs. Bund.
2. Arts - the Shanghai Art Museum for its permanent collection and check out the shows at the Modern Contermporary Museum. We were able to catch Qui Jie's large scale works on pencil and paper.
3. Shopping - my best bet are the shops at the French Concession, for trinkets and whatnots at Taikung Lu and for pure mongolian cashmere at Taboacity Fengxiang.

No comments: