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ehs1193 Shanghai - A travel report by Ethan
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Shanghai,  China - flag China -  Shanghai
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ehs1193's travel reports

Shanghai - The Heart of China, Old and New

  11 votes
The city of Shanghai started as a tiny little fishing village at the banks of the Huangpu River. Only until the 1800s did the city gain reputation as foreigners poured into Shanghai. Today, Shanghai is the center of Chinese culture.

Some of Shanghai's modern architecture.
Some of Shanghai's modern architecture.
Shanghai, for me, wasn't just an exotic travel destination. It was my home and heritage. My mom being from Shanghai has made me aspire to go to Shanghai since I was little. This makes much of the places in Shanghai more sentimental and dear to me than most people. Fall is probably the best time to visit Shanghai with mild temperatures everyday. June is probably the worst time to visit, but that's when my family decided to go. The mugginess and heat make the atmosphere of Shanghai heavy and almost unbearable compared to the climate-controlled life of America. Shanghai is divided into two halves by the Huangpu River. The east side, called Pudong, is the modern, bustling side of Shanghai, while the west is more quintessentially Chinese but with a touch of Europe. Shanghai is a pretty navigable once you know the subway system. Taxis, buses, and the metro all use the same fare card so you don't have a different payment method for each of the systems. These systems are best for the people who do not want to spend vacation hiking up and down the streets of Shanghai. Walking is fine for the more adventurous kind. Just make sure you believe the fake innocence of beggars or scammers. Just say “bu yao” (Chinese for “I don’t want whatever you are trying to sell to me.”) and they’ll probably walk away. Stay adamant if they keep bugging you. It is mandatory that you learn some basic phrases in Chinese. And be sure to say them as correctly as you can. Tourists who speak no Chinese will most likely end up paying con artists an extravagant salary. Just say hello or thank you (in Chinese of course), and the locals will surely open up to you. In the bigger international sections of the city, some people may speak English, but with a strong accent.

Favourite spots:
My favorite spot is the French Concession or Xintiandi in Chinese. This section of Shanghai was once controlled by France and it shows. Restaurants and hotels all have a European feel and charm. Compared to the rest of Shanghai, the area is upscale and expensive. This is the place where only rich and famous people live; if you're seen here, most likely you will be mistaken for a celebrity. Staff in restaurants and hotels will usually speak English or another European language. Prices are shown in yuan (Chinese money), Euros, or American Dollars, so this makes Xintiandi a well-accessible section of Shanghai to many foreign tourists.

What's really great:
The food here was the best. Food is everything in Shanghai. It's part of living in Shanghai and without Shanghai's expansive array of food, Shanghai would still be a little fishing village not even on the map. Here's an example of a normal day in Shanghai: You wake up at around 7 o'clock and head to the Starbucks around the corner for a cup of coffee. You then get on the subway for work. At lunch, you take a couple of your friends to KFC where you get a chicken sandwich. Four o'clock comes around and you need a snack. Time to head down to the candy shop to by some local desserts like dragon's mustache candy to satisfy your sweet tooth. Dinner comes along and you take your coworkers to the biggest Chinese seafood restaurant and get the most expensive thing on the menu. It's ten and you feel so full you could throw up, but in a good way. You walk along the Bund for some Italian gelato at Häagen-Dazs. Then you go to sleep.

The Jinmao Tower with the Shanghai World Financial center behind.
The Jinmao Tower with the Shanghai World Financial center behind.
There's so much to do in Shanghai. Puxi, the west side, is the historical side where museums and parks are abundant. Pudong has the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the Jinmao Tower, and the almost-open Shanghai World Financial Center, where you go to the observation deck and take pictures of Shanghai's unique skyline.

Hotels in Shanghai are much like the hotels in America. Prices go from expensive penthouse suite to the cheap hostel down a sketchy alleyway. The hostels may be great if you were a backpacker, but most people go for the name-brand hotels like the Marriott or Sheraton that you know and trust. Those hotels are much like America or Europe: a bed or two, a mini-fridge that costs way too much, and a pool or gym. The only things that are different is the water. Foreigners going to Shanghai and the rest of China must know that the water in China is UNDRINKABLE! I repeat, do not drink the water! Anything from stomach problems to death can be traced back to drinking from the tap. Always be sure to boil your water from the sink for at least a few minutes before drinking.

Restaurants in Shanghai are much like restaurants elsewhere. The only differences I see compared to fast-food restaurants in the US are that you need to ask for ice in your drink and that you don't have to put your trash in the garbage. A person will do that for you.

Published on Saturday September 29th, 2007

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Mon, Oct 15 2007 - 12:47 PM rating by marianne

Very good description and useful information about Shanghai.

Sat, Sep 29 2007 - 05:15 PM rating by rangutan

One of your best reports, I am so pleased you are beginning your long distance traveling and also that you are following your roots. I did too. Your enthusiasm to write about Shangai shows your love toward the city. That is great! [4.6] Very well written, are you still under 15?

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