Shangai is a very large city, the largest in China, but also of the whole world. In the past it was famous especially for its harbour (it is still one of the most important in Asia and in the world), but today it has become the main economic and financial centre of China!
What shocked us, as soon as we got out of the airport, was the hot weather: we started sweating without even moving, and it is so because it is very wet. To get to the city centre, and to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Zabei, we rented a very comfortable van, and we did not pay a lot.
The traffic is very heavy, especially while getting near the city, as we could notice even the following days; we usually moved by taxi and only sometimes by underground. The latter is very beautiful, but so big that it was not easy to use it: to get to the centre we had to change at least twice, so in the end by taxi it was easier!
In the afternoon we allowed ourselves a rest, because in the morning we had got up very early, then we made a little tour in the area of the hotel. Nothing special.
In the evening we went to see the area that is the best known for tourists, The Bund. It is on the other side of the river and it is made up of tall skyscapers, that in the evening are lighted up; the view is really amazing, with the coloured lights reflecting on the water.
To enjoy this view, a special pedestrian walk has been created, and it is always very crowded, there are lots of tourists but not only.
Then we went for a long relaxing walk in a pedestrian area behind the river, full of shops and extremely luxury department stores. We didn’t buy anything because the prices were not so cheap, they were exactly like in italy.
The day after we took a tourist bus that took us around the city; I must say it is beautiful, but at a first sight it is too western, we dicovered the typical and really Chinese corners the day after.
Jade Buddha Temple
Among them, there is the Jade Buddha Temple, that was not too far from our hotel and that surprised us with its beauty. It is very big and it is the most important Buddhist temple in Shangai.
It is made up of a group of buildings and pagodas built to preserve two jade Buddha statues brought from Burma by a monk. The temple was distroyed during the revolution and then reconstructed. We wandered around for a couple of hours, breathing the silence and relaxing atmosphere of all Buddha temples, entering the pagodas and enjoying the beauty of the place.
By taxi we went to Yu garden, in the north-east earea of the old city. It is a typical Chinese garden, there are lakes with gold fish, a lot of plants and amall pagodas scattered in the green. But it is very nice: it is a very relaxing place even if it is not far from the city frenzy and it is pleasant to stay there for a while.
Very close to Yu garden, you can find the City Gods temple. It is a temple where are worshipped three characters, called City Gods; it was built to celebrate the passage of Shangai from city to province. The buildings are set around a small yard, there is incense smell everywhere, and I liked it. Only, I found the expression of the statues rather frightening; they are not smiling and reassuring faces, as gods’ faces should be, nay they seem angry and threatening, and this made me perplex.
Then, we got lost in the chaos of a commercial area nearby, called “Chenghuangmiao”; there you can see absolutely everything. There are lots of shops, old and modern, and if you are good at dealing you can also make a good bargain! We had decided to make shopping in Beijing, so we only bought a couple of fridge magnets.
A last visit to the Bund area, because it is too beautiful, first we went for a tour by bus among the skyscrapers, and then we went back to the pedestrian area to have a look at those wonderful shops. And in the end we came back to our hotel, because it had started raining and because we had to get up early the following day to leave to Beijing!