China Part 1 – Shanghai “The Pearl of the Orient”

Following a busy post-Christmas few weeks in college, I was lucky enough to be able to visit China for 8 days. This was organised through the college with the objective of giving students the chance to visit one of the most important countries in the world in terms of business and trade. Being home to well-known sights such as the Great Wall of China and Shanghai’s famous skyline at The Bund, eight days was going to be a tight squeeze to see it all. As we got to see much, one post just isn’t going to be enough. Part one will look at Shanghai, but be sure to check back later in the week for the review of Beijing.

Day One – The Bund and Shanghai Old Street

After a 13 hour journey from Dublin, we landed in Shanghai at 11 am. With a full day ahead of us, and determined to avoid the dreaded jet-lag, we headed out for a walking tour which would take us to the Bund and the Shanghai Old Street area. Previous experience of visiting China in the winter meant I knew what to expect in terms of weather, and I certainly wasn’t proven wrong, it was cold! Perfect blue skies, with virtually none of the nasty smog we had being expecting, made for a picture perfect view of the Bund skyline. As impressive as it is during the day, there is nowhere quite like it when it is lit up at night-time.

We also visited the Shanghai Old Street and its narrow pedestrian seats. As it was the week leading up to the Chinese New Year, there were red and yellow decorations everywhere you looked. At this stage though the lack of sleep was beginning to take its toll, so it was time to call it a day.

Day Two – Qibao Ancient Water Town

Feeling a bit more refreshed on day two, it was time to head for the Qibao ancient water town. With over 1000 years of history, it is the only remaining ancient town within greater Shanghai. It’s narrow streets and lanes, packed with shops and food vendors as well as the rivers running through it all made for some interesting sights and smells.

Day Three – French Concession and Markets

Our final day in Shanghai consisted of a visit to the French Concession and some shopping in the local markets. The French Concession is known for its  tree-lined streets as well as the bars, cafes, and restaurants which cater for many of the expats living in Shanghai and is well worth a visit for anyone passing through the city. After a lunch of crepes and coffee (not very Chinese I know!), it was time to visit the markets and do some shopping. One of my favourite things to do whenever I am in Asia is visit the local markets and check out what is on offer. Haggling with the vendors is great sport and can turn competitive between friends to see who can get the lowest price on something, even if they don’t particularly need it. It’s also the perfect place to pick up some gifts to bring home. Chinese tea, chopstick sets and magnets are some of the most popular and it’s what everyone on my list ended up with.

Three days in Shanghai is certainly not enough to see everything. However, our time was limited and so it was time to head for Beijing. Check back later in the week when I’ll be covering everything Beijing has to offer as well as a special Great Wall post and my top 5 food experiences in China. As always, don’t forget to sign up so you don’t miss and content and please comment below, I’d love to hear your opinions.

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