Shanghai has its sights. Surely an evening stroll along the Bund, the developing promenade along the Huangpu River, is a must. The skyline lights up at night and rivals that of Hong Kong in my opinion. A tourist tram goes back and forth under the river and costs 50 RMB (r/t) giving you a 5-minute light show that frankly isn’t terribly exciting, just a bit weird. The subway can get you there in a minute or two at 3 RMB.
The Shanghai Museum, which is now free admission, is a good collection of artifacts and unlike most museums that are divided into salons by time periods, this is organized by the item. For example, coins from all periods of history are in one salon. Furniture, pottery, statues, painting and calligraphy, and jade all have their own rooms. The museum is located in People’s Square and Lines 1, 2, and 8 of the subway meet here.
Shopping in Shanghai is endless and name brands abound. So do knock offs. Does it matter? Aren’t they both made in the same place? China??? One particular shopping site might merit a visit as an attraction and that is the brand new (as of March 9, 2008) six-floor Barbie Emporium.
In the West we perhaps have been Barbied to death, but this is new stuff for the Chinese and the turnout at the store was excited and snapping photos. It is Mattel’s first such outlet though more will follow. The cafe serves pink cappuccinos and hosts a fashion runway so that parents can force their poor little kids to put on Barbie clothes and wander sobbing in terror along the glowing catwalk to the thundering disco music and the flashing cameras of grinning strangers. It probably looked even weirder for some Western guy in a trench coat to be snapping photos of someone’s little girl. This won’t look good on my record.
But for me the Shanghai delight had to be dining on fresh hand-pulled noodles. Known as lamian the noodles are as much a show as a cheap and excellent meal. Many of the makers are Hui, one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People’s Republic of China. They are generally Muslim and the men wear white caps and the women veils over their hair. By chance I found a place that was open 24 hours and always full. Here’s their address. Line 8 Laoximen Station Exit 3. Good luck:
No English menu of course. Fortunately for me they had some photos on the wall and I just pointed a lot. A cup of very flavorful broth comes alongside and was automatically refilled when I finished. The staff were friendlier than most I encountered on my trip and were excited to show me the procedure.
Follow this link to my video of Shanghai which will also show you one of the noodlemakers doing his thing as well as footage of the Maglev (Magnetic Levitation) train that gets one to the airport in about 8 minutes at either 300 kmh (180 mph) or 430 kph (258 mph) depending on the time of day. Very cool! (There’s also a short video of the street hawkers)