Shanghai and its New History

There’s plenty of money in China and a huge chunk of it comes from arguably one of the most innovative and fastest-growing cities on the planet – Shanghai.
A population of almost 15million makes it the 6th largest city on the planet, and with China’s economic strength increasing by the day, this city will soon begin to spill out into the ocean.
Shanghai has it all.  The mammoth department stores, the gigantic skyscrapers, and the most divine food your pallet could ever taste and it is one of the cheapest places to fly from South Korea.
If you’re looking for somewhere to jet off to during your summer vacation or you just have a long weekend free and maybe Japan is a little out of your price range and you’ve done the South East Asia thing to its bitter end, then perhaps a visit to the Land of the Rising Sun could do wonders for your spirit, without tearing too large a hole in your pocket.

Coming into Shanghai you land in a cool, sleek airport, then to get to the city you must take a trip on the infamous Maglev train.  This train is ingenious, transporting people from the airport to the centre of Shanghai in less than seven minutes, all done through the use of magnets.  It puts the KTX to shame.
There are, as with any city an abundance places to stay for all kinds of different budgets, but a recommendation would be the Blue Mountain Guest House, just out of the Luban station (Ex 2, Line 8).  It is 24-hour, with clean sheets, clean food, hot water and a smiley grin from all of the staff that work within.  It is one minute from a subway line so we expected the price to be high, but the pleasant shock of having a discounted rate because of a quiet season was the icing on the cake.  Prices start at around $6 for the basics.

Any trip to Shanghai isn’t complete without a visit to the Pudong.  This large area is home to the most symbolic building in the whole of Shanghai – The Oriental TV Tower.  Standing at close to 468metres (1535ft).  From this tower you can observe the world below and see off into the vast distance.  Tickets are (100RMB) and from the summit as of 2008 you can now view the Shanghai World Financial Centre, the third tallest building in the world, which also has an observation deck, but you have to have some guts to get to the top of that beast.  To view these buildings at night whilst walking along the river is one of most spectacular sights of this whole city, and maybe you can sneak a bottle of wine into a rucksack and pour a glass or two as the night rolls on.
To find something exciting to eat is like trying to find a drunk on a two-for-one night, there’s one on every corner.  Whether you want to stick to the familiar or lean towards trying something different, there’s  all manner of things you can try.  As like Korea, you can wonder aimlessly down a road and discover a hidden gem, but a good place to start would be along the Century Square – Nanjing East Rd.  Here there is a plethora of styles, delicacies, tastes and fancies, all to entice and sweet-talk you into another bite.
Unlike the country’s capital – Beijing, which probably has a lot more to offer culturally and perhaps more to offer in terms of traditional Chinese cuisine, Shanghai has taken all the best bits of their historically famous food and put a Western spin on it.   One thing that it would be a crime not to taste are the dumplings.  These can be found almost everywhere, but it is down to pure luck as to whether you get a good bunch or not.  The plus side is that they are so damn cheap you can just pick up another batch soon enough.   Another similarity between China and Korea is how cheap the local beer is with Tsingtao costing around 4RMB (50c) for a large bottle (600ml).
Other places that are definitely worth a visit include the Botanical Gardens in Old Shanghai where you can mislay a few hours in the tranquil temples and get lost in a maze of alleyways.  The Shanghai Art Gallery in People’s Square houses a lot of contemporary art as well as some modern anti-communistic art to sneak a peak at.
There is enough in this city to keep you occupied for weeks on end, but even if time is short you can still pack in a lot or perhaps you, like me, want to just keep eating those dumplings.


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