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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Shanghai Holiday

It was a package tour and with it happening during super peak period with Christmas and New Year in between, you guess right; it was also priced at a premium.

I am sure we know who this is.

So off we went, hoping for the best.

Arrive in Pudong Airport on a very cold early morning and was straight away taken to try out Shanghai’s technological marvel, the high speed Maglev Train. The tour guides boast that it can achieve in excess of 400 km/hr but we were only able to experience it at around 300 km/hr before the journey ended after 8 minutes. The experience was surprisingly not exciting, it was just like any other train ride until you realized that the train has no wheels but uses magnetic levitation and magnetism for propulsion.

Next was a visit to West Lake, a beautiful man make lake that is so huge it is difficult to imagine it is not a natural lake.
Night cruise in the Bund , Shanghai
The entire tour took 8 days with visits to Hangchow, Soochow, Nanjing, Wuxi and of course Shanghai.

Cute looking bun
The real authentic Chinese food (you cannot get it any more authentic than having it cooked by Chinese chefs using Chinese ingredients and eating it in a Chinese restaurant in China) we had was a bit disappointing as they somehow manage to taste alike after a few days. Don’t get me wrong, it is not that bad but somehow it did not meet our expectations but there is no doubt I can live with it.
The 3 Kingdom film set
As to the tour, I am now an expert in Jade, fine silk, pearls as ornaments or as a medicinal product, appreciation of all types of fine teas and of course Chinese herbal medicine. We were herded like sheep to these establishments where detail explanation was given without being asked with the final objective of off loading some very expensive products for us to take home at a price. To make things worse, this visits have no time limits unlike when we go to museums and so forth, visiting time is limited to usually for not more than an hour.

Places I ranked as must go, the Bund and the Pearl Tower in Shanghai including the little museum inside, the rest of the place I only have vague memories due to the very brief visits.
Sun Yat Sun's Mausoluem
Places to avoid are well established, fine tea house, silk factories, shop selling pearl products and Chinese herbal medicine as they are utterly boring. I find the stalls in flea market much more interesting but in general beware of highly inflated prices and prepare for bargaining. If you prefer not to bargain, you can try using body language, just walk away and you will find the prices drop by half, express interest but continue walking and the price may fall further. I was shown quite a few fake products that are difficult to distinguish from the genuine at less than one tenth of the original price.

Part of West Lake