Date: 23rd May - 30th May
I went to Shanghai and Hangzhou in May because I had to get out of Japan (visa run), and the air-tickets to Shanghai was so cheap! About $100 for round-trip! No wonder so many Chinese guests are coming to stay at our guest house.
As my trip was half work half travel, most of my expenditure was covered by company, for example transport, food and accommodation; i only exchanged $200 for personal stuff, like shopping, gifts etc.
When i first arrived in Shanghai airport, on my way to the hostel, i was shocked to find out that google map doesnt work in China. I only knew facebook was not allowed but i didn't know that google too, and i stupidly marked all the places that i was interested to visit on my google map. I panicked for awhile, as i didn't buy a phone card too (which is another whole complicated procedure, having to record all you passport details etc, i heard..).
But then i managed to get things sorted out. I asked around and found out that 高德地图 (gao de di tu) and 百度地图 (bai du di tu), is the most common online map that people in china use. MetrolMan is also a good app that shows the train timing in shanghai. Then later i found out about GreenVPN from a guy that i met in the hostel who was kind enough to share with me his password. With that, i could access everything like facebook, google etc. Super awesome.
Anyway, the most important app that has conquered china is wechat. I knew wechat was commonly used but i didnt know the extend of it and i was so amazed when i see how the app has replaced menu, namecards, and even wallets in china. People in china now go out with just their phone and they can make purchases through wechat, exchange contact through wechat, and even view menu etc through wechat QR code. It's amazing. I believe in no time wechat is going to conquer the world. haha.
I book a mixed dorm at Shanghai Blue Mountain LUWAN Youth Hostel which cost about $20 per night. The room is clean, beds are comfortable, and the best thing is it's just right opposite the subway station (luban) which makes it super convenient. The only problem is that there is only wifi in the common area. But i heard that it's the same for the other hostels in Shanghai.
From the airport i simply took the subway to Luban station which cost me just about $2. I was stunned at how cheap it is because transport is way too expensive in Japan.
Places of interest:
I spent 2 days touring Shanghai. 1 day going to all the sightseeing places, and another day with my boss checking out some green initiatives in Shanghai.
I started my tour by foot from my hostel to 田子坊, which was a street with old shop houses. Pretty nice place for pictures and there are lots of interesting souvenir shops there too.
Then i walked towards the french concession area near Fuxing Rd (复兴路) to check out the architecture. I had a great time strolling around.
Next i popped by 复兴公园 , i really enjoy people watching at the gardens in china so much. Watching them dance, sing, play chess, doing taichi, chilling; simply having a great time. :)
I was taking a video of a little boy and his mum walking, and the mum caught sight of me and started smiling and dancing with her boy. She then said this to me "someone asked me what's the most precious moment in my life, and I said it's when my boy hug me and say mama i love you". Aww. How random and sweet.
I then took a train to 人民广场. I wanted to visit the park, but i got a little too tired from walking and i was super hungry, so i went to the nearby mall to grab some food.
南东乐路 is kinda like Singapore's orchard road. Lot's of shopping mall and business building. I checked it out for awhile before heading to 外灘 to see the awesome view of Shanghai.
I guess this is the must go place in Shanghai. It reminds me so much about Singapore though. It's a nice place but packed with tourist. Interesting place to people watch too.
Here are some nice restaurants that my friend who work in Shanghai recommended me. I didn't manage to go to all of them. But i'm pretty sure that the food is good.
Add: 39 Anfu Rd, Xuhui Qu, Shanghai Shi, China
I was researching about some green initiatives in Shanghai before i went, and i managed to find some nice organic restaurants like Hunters Gatherer, Green & Safe, The Urban Harvest. There was even a eco village, a shopping mall that sells upcycled stuff, that i read about in an article.
However, when i was there, most of the green restaurants stopped operating. What a pity! We only managed to visit The Urban Harvest, which was quite interesting. They grow sprouts and mushroom in their restaurant, and you are allowed to harvest them for your meal. Their food is delicious! It's nice that we at least managed to visit one. Come on Shanghai, keep the green spirit up!
Hangzhou is so beautiful! I'm really glad that we decided to spent most of our time in Hangzhou instead of shanghai. I'm just not a city person, nature is where i like to be.
We took a bus from Shanghai airport to Hangzhou which cost us about 110rmb per person. It's cheaper to take from the city, or in fact, train is the best choice. We took train back to Shanghai which only cost us 78rmb per person.
Booked a super nice airbnb place that is located really close to West Lake. The room is very comfortable, the owner is friendly and helpful, and the neighborhood has great vibes with lots of food store around. I highly recommend this place.
Places of interest:
We spent 3 full days in Hangzhou, and we almost extended another day there. It's such a nice and chill place with it's own unique vibe. The main thing in Hangzhou it's of course the West Lake, and that's basically what we did the whole time.
We rented a bike and ride around the west lake, which was super awesome experience.
We spent another day walking around the lake as bicycles are not allowed at some parts along the lake. It was really nice to take our time strolling, taking pictures, watching the sunset. But it gets a little tiring towards the end though. I think it took us about 5 hours slow walk.
We watched The Impression West Lake, a love story performed with impressive special effects on the lake, directed by the internationally-acclaimed Zhang Yimou. There are 2 show timings every night and it's super spectacular. I highly recommend you guys to not missed it!
One of the best thing we did at Hangzhou was hanging around in the parks, watching people singing and dancing. Toyo was even dragged in to perform. It was fun and entertaining!
We also walked around the bamboo forest and botanical garden. It's just so nice to be close to nature.
On our last day, we went around for some "work" stuff. I took lots of videos of him performing and combined them. It was fun! Here's the short clip!
All the food that we had in Hangzhou was so good! The restaurant weren't even pricey at all.
Here are the ones we went:
Overall, it was such a great break to shanghai and hangzhou. It feels like i'm back home for awhile, eating delicious chinese food. I think there's so much more to explore, especially Hangzhou. I definitely would love to go back again next time. :)
I hope you guys will have as much fun as i did.