Shopping, shopping.....

Shanghai Travel Blog

 › entry 14 of 19 › view all entries
View of skyline from the Bund

Politically, China may be a Communist regime, but economically they are as capitalistic as you can get! We loved Shanghai and we shopped and shopped and shopped!

The city itself straddles the upper branch of the Yangtzee river ( I have to look the name up), with large skyscrapers all along one side of the river and older colonial style buildings along the other.

We were joined on our adventure by Suzy and Tim, our friends from Australia. Our first order of business was to change money....but since the ship again kept our passports we found this to be very difficult. China is a bit funny about their money, so changing it is difficult anyway, but since we only had photocopies of our passports, they simply refused to change our money.

Goodyear blimp in front of the TV Tower
Luckily after trying 3 different machines we were able to get the ATM to work and we did our own money exchange with our friends. All of this was under the watchful eye of an armed guard...which makes you feel a bit nervous.

Once we had money we jumped in a cab and headed for the Bund. Most of the people in Shanghai do not speak English, as our lecturer said, "there are billions of Chinese so why would they need to speak English." Luckily our guide book had the names of the places written in Chinese characters, so we were able to show the cab driver exactly where we wanted to go and this worked for us all day long.

We started at the Bund, which is the river walk. It was a bit cloudy, but luckily no rain. Along the river is the Shanghai TV Tower, the largest TV tower in the world.

The Yu Gardens and Market
It is a large spike shaped building with two large is cool. Shanghai is also in the process of building the tallest building in the world, of course by the time it is finished...another Asian city may have already beat them.

The bund was filled with hawkers, trying to sell us their goods. Brian and I have been universally ignoring the hawkers, but Suzy just jumps right in and starts negotiating with them. Brian and I quickly discovered that bargaining could be a lot of fun and with Suzy's help we were able to get some great deals. We headed over to Old Shanghai and entered the Yu Gardens and Bazaar...a very old, walled part of the city that now contains hundreds of shops and stalls and restaurants. The buildings were beautiful and the place is designed like a maze so you can wander and wander for hours.

The bridge of 9 turnings
In the center of the complex is an ancient tea house in the middle of a pond. To reach the tea house you must cross the bridge of 9 turnings, a zig zag bridge that was designed that way because bad spirits cannot turn corners. Because of this unique bridge the tea house has survived for hundreds of years and avoided all of the bad spirits. We enjoyed some Oolong and Lychee tea as our host performed a Chinese tea ceremony. It was very enjoyable, but we soon realized that if we kept emptying our cups she would continue to fill them up, so after 6 cups of tea we were filled up and had to leave!

Before spending the day with Kim and Brian, Suzy and Tim had never eaten off the ship. Since they were with us, they both decided to be more adventurous and have a traditional Chinese lunch.

Veggies in a sidewalk market
We found a restaurant, ordered 4 large TsingTao beers and began to peruse the menu. We chose several dishes and each one was more delicious than the last. We had spicy cashew chicken, pork dumplings, a steak and red chili stew and sweet and sour pork ribs. Everyone loved the food and we enjoyed watching Suzy try to use her chopsticks. She finally gave up because we were worried that she would starve to death! After six cups of tea and large beers we had to find the bathroom. We had our own tissue so we thought we were prepared. The "toilets" in China are really just sunken areas in the floor. They have foot pads where you are supposed to place your feet while you squat over the hole. This is not an easy maneuver for women who are used to more luxurious bathrooms and Suzy and I were yelping so loud and laughing so much that the guys could hear us from outside.
Suzy bargaining with the watch seller moments after fleeing the police
We survived and felt much better!

After lunch we took a self-guided walking tour through Old Shanghai. We passed food markets, more hawkers and we saw the original city wall. Passing stalls that sold live fish, with the heads still bobbing, live chickens and ducks (don't breathe in, you don't want bird flu), and dozens of people saying "You wanna buy watch?" In order to bargain in Shanghai you need to first get the price from the seller, then you act very offended and say "too much too much" and they will lower the price. You then offer 10% of their price, which offends them and they will say "you're killing me" and then you have to walk away. Their price will drop dramatically and then you start bargaining. It is uncomfortable at first and I had to keep pausing to do math in my head, which is not one of my skills!

We went to the Nanching Lu Shopping District, which is approximately six miles of shopping. It was more designer stores and mall type shopping and we were anxious to get back to the markets, so we didn't stay long. While walking along Nanching Lu we had 4 men who followed us for several blocks trying to steer us toward "my brother's shop." Even though we tried saying "no thanks" "no" "NO" and "go away" they did not get the hint. We finally entered a large store and spent about 20 minutes inside hoping they would go away. When we left the store they were sitting right outside still waiting for us.

We went back to Yu Gardens with a mission. Suzy wanted some watches and she and I both wanted some silk blouses. Brian was able to get a beautiful Mah Jong set and with Suzy's help we were able to find great deals on our silk.

Buying the watches was entertaining because in the middle of negotiating, the men suddenly closed their cases and began running away. We were worried that Suzy had been robbed, but then we saw the police man running after the is apparently illegal for them to hawk their wares. Suzy finally found the watch she wanted, but the man fled the police so we had to chase after the man so Suzy could buy her watch....we could not stop laughing!

We were able to stay later in Shanghai, so we got to see the city lights come on, it was beautiful. We had a wonderful day with Suzy and Tim and thanks to them we got lots of fantastic bargains!

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View of skyline from the Bund
View of skyline from the Bund
Goodyear blimp in front of the TV …
Goodyear blimp in front of the TV…
The Yu Gardens and Market
The Yu Gardens and Market
The bridge of 9 turnings
The bridge of 9 turnings
Veggies in a sidewalk market
Veggies in a sidewalk market
Suzy bargaining with the watch sel…
Suzy bargaining with the watch se…
photo by: spocklogic