Day 2: Shanghai
Our first full day in Shanghai began mid-morning with a walk to a pair of dumpling restaurants that I found in my pre-trip research. First up was Jia Jia Tang Bao, where a dozen pork dumplings, ginger, a soda and another enormous beer was a mere $2. The dumplings were excellent, and the steady line out the door told us we weren’t the only ones who thought so!
Reeb beer quenches your thirst and provides entertainment for observant word nerds.
Next up, we crossed the street to Yang’s Fry-Dumplings, and surprisingly, they were even better. A delicious pork filling was surrounded by an even more delicious soup, with a golden brown pan-fried bottom crust to change up the texture. Outstanding, and at a mere $1.50 for 8 huge dumplings, we will definitely be eating here again before we leave Shanghai.
Full of dumplings, we set out to explore Shanghai. No rain, thankfully, as we made our way through People’s Square, a lovely park area filled with museums and other cultural monuments. We stopped at a huge mall food court for a bubble tea drink, then headed south toward Yu Yuan Gardens.
Yu Gardens and Bazaar is a collection of beautiful buildings loaded with shops selling everything from cheap souvenirs to jewelry to medicine. There is also a temple and gorgeous garden area. We wandered through the shops, eventually bargaining a great price for two ink-print paintings of Yangshuo scenery. We watched the artist as he hand-painted the prints (not ours), smudging, smearing, and dabbing the ink on by hand. He showed us a picture of himself in O’Hare, and gave us a good price for being from Chicago (right!).
We found the entrance to the gardens, paid the $5 admission, and found ourselves in a peaceful, scenic area free from the craziness of the shops outside. The Ming-dynasty gardens are divided up by walls that make it seem a little maze-like, and we had fun exploring the area and taking some great pictures.
We left the gardens and headed west on a walking tour provided by one of our guidebooks. It was a great way to see some back-street areas of the city as we wandered through alleys exploring various markets and observing daily life of the Shanghai people. One market in particular was like nothing we’d seen before, filled to bursting with flowers, tables of crickets and grasshoppers each in an individual box, bowls of turtles and fish, and cages full of birds, rabbits, mice, and kittens. We did not buy anything here. 🙂
We ended our walking tour at Xin Tiandi, which translates to “New Heaven and Earth”, an area of stone tenements formerly the site of the first national congress of the Communist Party of China redeveloped into a shopping and restaurant complex. Our destination was Crystal Jade, a restaurant known for their excellent Cantonese food and our chosen dinner spot. We sampled more sweet and sour pork, some excellent hand-cut noodles, and spring rolls; all was delicious and while this meal was slightly more pricey than our lunch, we left very happy.
Winding down, we headed east toward the Bund on our way back to the hotel. We discovered a cool Thai market as we walked through a small park, and caught a few seconds of a concert featuring two Thai singers who, judging from the screams of the girls in attendance, were very popular. We walked along the street below a major highway, which was bathed in blue light and gave the whole area a very futuristic feel.
The Bund is the most famous landmark in Shanghai. It’s a street lined on one side with grandiose buildings and the other side with a riverfront promenade offering awesome views of the buildings across the water in Pudong. The Peninsula is located at the north end of the Bund. The night was clearer, so Matt tried for some cool nighttime shots of the lit-up skyline.
The rain started again, so we called it a day and headed back to the Peninsula. Tomorrow: pandas, acrobats, and more dumplings!