Sunday, 9 April 2017

Rainy Beginnings

The body clock had most of the family rising early. Most fortunately went back to sleep. By 7:30am, our stomachs could no longer be ignored and we ventured out to find food. We braved the local shops nearby our hotel where I passed my first mandarin test. There were no picture menus. Everything was on a board in Chinese characters which meant I had to speak!!! Oh the stress! I managed to work out that they only served 3 dishes in the morning, I could only understand what 2 were. Noodles and dumplings it was! And delicious they were. We were not game to try the third. By looking around us, it looked suspiciously like odd animal parts. So we moved to the restaurant next door which did have a picture menu. We ordered more dumplings to satisfy the rest of our hunger. We got 6 dumplings for a bargain price of AUD4! The food again disappeared in no time and before we knew it, we were back in our hotel by 8:30! Our day today was not going to start until 1030am courtesy of Mal's high school friend Will, who has offered to take us around the city. We took the opportunity of this uncharacteristic spare time in the morning tv.

Some woke up early and read

I woke up early and went to the gym. Yeah! Nothing like running at 4am!

Rain :(

Still raining but no fog!

Chicken noodle soup. Amazingly flavoursome broth

Our first dumplings!

Food a hit with all

We never did find out what was in this soup...

Dumplings round 2. The waitress after trying to convey to us how to eat in in mandarin and looking at my blank face, mimed out the actions. There's soup inside it that ones needs to drink. Use a spoon.

Will had been living in Shanghai with his young family for the past few years but reported very little time to sight see and so was keen to take us around. He brought his son Ollie, aged 5, with him and I believe Ollie's mandarin was the best out of all of us. We set off from our hotel in 2 taxis for Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai's Old Town, crossing the Huangpu river to take us from the Pudong side of Shanghai to the Puxi side. The taxi ride only came to 24CNY which was less than AUD5. Bargain. As an aside, we used taxis for the rest of our day and did not have any difficulties. All were metered with no bargaining involved. Will did mention that taxis are in short supply and at times it could be difficult to get one.

We had to go through Yuyuan Tourist Mart to get to the entrance of the Gardens. The surrounding streets and shops had been turned into a pedestrian zone of shops and restaurants. The buildings were styled in old traditional Chinese which some may find tacky but did lend to the atmosphere. Unfortunately it was raining which made the browsing of goods less enjoyable. Balancing an umbrella and taking photos was also somewhat of a challenge. We stopped at City God Temple in hope that the rain would ease. It did not. It got heavier. After wandering a few more streets, we decided that the investment would not be worthwhile. No one wanted to be miserable in the gardens. Will assured us that the Chinese Gardens at Sydney was just as good...

The gates to enter the Yuyuan Gardens and its surrounding area

Will and his son Ollie 

The shops around the Gardens

Plenty of folk craft to look at

Ceramic flutes sounded good when the vendor played it...

Papercut craft anyone?!?

City God Temple

Will paid for nearly everything!

We think this is the Goddess of Mercy

Chinese style ceiling

Timber reliefs

We're Chinese. It was all about food. Uncle Will was a hit after buying them "choose your own" lollies

The children's look. It wasn't too bad actually as they weren't very sweet.

More food. Walnut mini cakes??! I don't know how else to describe them

The last photo before before the rain came down even harder

He took us to Xintiandi, another car-free, eating and entertainment area, which was where the first congress of the Communist Party of China was. It was hard to know if the stone buildings were "renovated" or simply rebuilt. We had a wander around but our ultimate destination was somewhere to eat for lunch. Will chose Ye Shanghai, chinese cuisine which reflected those of Shanghai's surrounding local provinces. And of course, as soon as we started to eat, the rain eased. The food was amazing. The children who had earlier declared that they didn't like tofu cleaned up the tofu dishes (Thanks Will for ordering them regardless!). It was also a relief not to have to look at the menu and order food to be honest!

Completely different feel of Xintiandi

Funky up market shops

Time for lunch!

So happy to eat again

So happy that someone else is ordering!

Tofu dish one - deep fried

Tofu dish 2 - braised

Mini prawns

Tasty Beans. The kids ate them all!

Next up was shopping. There is a huge shopping in Shanghai made of a few malls amalgamated together. It was known in Chinese as Zhengda which translates to "SO BIG"! Will informed us that he had never been. So let's go! We entered via the Super Brand Mall, which in the Lujiazui district. As the name suggested, every brand you could think of was there. It was easy to get lost inside (literally!). Other than fruit and drinks, we didn't end up buying anything because we were so overwhelmed! Instead we took a break for dessert at Bellagio, a chain of restaurants serving Taiwanese food. Will had been paying for everything at this point. Malcolm finally managed to pay for the bill by "going to the toilet" early in the piece. Sheesh.

At this point, Will declared that he wanted to the Disney Store because he had never been. Say what?!? I need no further incentive. It was conveniently right across the road! At this point, the camera stayed in the bag as I had serious merchandise to peruse. And this time, we did leave the store with purchases. It was unfortunately time to end our day with Will. Despite the rain, it was a relaxing way to see Shanghai and our long lunch and afternoon tea made for  a great catch up. It was very generous of him to give us his time (and money! A family of 5 aint cheap!) to take us around and we were so grateful.

Hello Uniqlo! Unfortunately prices were much the same as Sydney

Taiwanese style shaved ice.

The servings were HUGE!

Much to the delight of the children

A ring of pedestrian bridges to cross to all sides of the massive round about at Lujiazui

Zhengda is across from the Pearl Tower

And right under the tower is the Disney Store!

The beginnings of our Disney loot. The Disney store had an amazing Tsum Tsum collection

We went a little overboard buying drinks...

From the Disney Store, it was a short 500m walk back to our hotel. We were meeting up with our Disney travelling buddy Luan this evening, Unfortunately she was delayed at the airport as her luggage didn't make it to Shanghai! We discovered a Bellagio right near out hotel and went in for a quick meal. I survived another ordering ordeal. With tummies full, it was time to call it a day.

This time we could see the lights!

And we could see all of the Pearl Tower!


  1. Pity about the rain. We never did make it to the Disney store in Shanghai. So PIO and us should have eaten in Xintiandi that first night!

  2. Hehe. Don't feel too bad. For what its worth, we found it hard to decide what to eat when we were there. I suspect this was a case of a local knowing where to eat and what to order!