Day 3: Shanghai
After a leisurely morning at the hotel, we decided to go to the zoo. Matt declared that he would not leave China without seeing a panda, and since we were bypassing the city of Chengdu and its Panda Research Center, the Shanghai Zoo would have to do.
But first, we headed back to the Bund for a daytime view of the riverfront.
The promenade was incredibly busy, with tour groups galore. Matt and I consider ourselves pretty independent travelers, and after seeing the huge groups with their matching hats and flag-waving guides, we’re pretty happy to be seeing China our way.
Next, we found ourselves back at Yang’s Fry-Dumplings for a second meal of the oh-so-good snacks. After a quick lunch we headed west out of the city on a Metro line that had literally been open for four days. In preparation for the upcoming Shanghai World Expo, the city has undergone a massive amount of construction, including the addition of several Metro lines/extensions. We happily discovered that the train would get us within walking distance of the zoo, though we had to watch our time as it would stop running at 4 PM, as is customary for new lines.
We successfully found the zoo, which was unceremoniously located among apartment buildings, Shanghai’s domestic airport, and a ton of construction, but once inside, it was a sprawling, beautiful area that we had practically to ourselves. We made a beeline for the pandas, stopping to see peacocks, bears, tigers, and wolves along the way.
The Sichuan province lent Shanghai ten panda cubs for the World Expo, and they were definitely the most popular guys at the zoo. Climbing all over each other, munching leaves, and generally looking cute, the pandas were well worth the visit.
We hustled back to the train station before the last one left without us and went looking for dinner. I had read about a hot pot restaurant that sounded good, but when we arrived at its address we found ourselves at a swanky office building filled with…offices. After a little wandering, iPhone consulting, and finally the help of a doorman, we discovered that the restaurant was closed. I suppose this is one of the issues with so much construction going on; it’s difficult to keep webpages up-to-date as things open and close.
Standing on the street corner, we scanned the area for the next potential dinner spot. Looking up, we saw a restaurant with its name in neon in every window, looked it up on the iPhone (thank you, random wireless connections!), and found it to be known for some of the best dim sum in the city. Sold!
The restaurant, Fu Lin Xuan, was pretty fancy inside but not expensive. The service was as good as you’d see at the Peninsula; very attentive, patient, and speedy. We had ourselves a great dim sum meal, ordering steamed BBQ pork buns, rice dumplings filled with meat, shrimp and taro spring rolls, flaky pork pastries, and garlicky cucumbers. All were excellent, and we were happy to have randomly found such a great place for dinner.
Next up: Shanghai Circus World! We had tickets to the “ERA – Intersection of Time” show, an acrobatic extravaganza that I’d read about online. The metro conveniently had a stop half a block from the theater, and we got there in plenty of time to watch about twenty tour groups fill the arena around us. The theater was in a huge dome-shaped space, with great seats no matter where you were, so we felt pretty good about having bought the “cheap” tickets!
The show was AMAZING. One acrobatic act after another, accompanied with great live music and lights, left us awestruck. Everything from juggling to contortionists to tumbling to high-wire was featured, and we loved it all. Matt snuck a few pictures during the show.
After the show, we headed back to the hotel, stopping for ice cream at a convenience store along the way. (Can’t beat 70 cents for two ice cream bars!) It was another great day; tomorrow we have the morning in Shanghai before departing for Guilin and the mountain scenery of Yangshuo!