One of the highlights of my break was spending a week in Shanghai. After a mere few days there, I can say whole heartedly, I have found my new favorite city. This place was the most amazing blend of architecture, interesting food, people form different countries, history, culture, and so many cool places to explore. Below are some of the trip highlights!
The Bullet Train
On the day I was off to Shanghai I woke up at early to finish packing and then walked to the nearby subway station. At 6 AM walking through my neighborhood, with the faint noise of a bus driving in the distance and my suitcase wheels rolling below me, excitement was coursing through my veins. I remember when I was little, waking up early to catch a flight was such a special feeling. I felt something similar at that moment. After an hour long subway ride, I arrived at Beijing South Railway Station where I boarded my train. Riding the gaotie, (the high speed railway) is always such a cool experience. Traveling at speeds of 217 mph and peering out the window allows a view into Chinese cities and country sides. It was extra fun having my friends Jess, Alex, and Brian (and their families!) on the same train with me.
One of the first places I visited when I got to Shanghai was this area. Next to the famous Yuyuan Garden which was built during the Ming Dynasty lies the Yuyuan Bazzar. This area is perhaps my favorite food/market street I’ve been to in China! “It has a great number of small streets and lanes where you can find many restaurants, tea houses, and shops. It is a good place to sample some local snacks and buy some souvenirs.
The most popular local snacks are Yangchun noodles, steamed stuffed buns, fried stuffed buns, crispy fried cakes, and chop rice cakes.
In the bazaar, Yuyuan Old Street offers traditional Chinese commodities, such as Chinese lanterns, decorations, silk, antiques, arts, handicrafts, craftworks, jewels, and so much more.” (chinahighlights.com) Below is a picture of me and Alex’s dad eating some of the famous meat on a stick.
The Bund is a mile-long stretch of waterfront promenade along the Huangpu River. To the west of this stretch stand 52 buildings of various architectural styles, including Gothic, baroque, and neoclassical styles. It is often referred to as “the museum of buildings”. To the right contains Shanghai’s skyscrapers and financial district, full of eye catching buildings that at night have impressive lights highlighting their unique styles.
Shanghai has the largest Starbucks store in the world – opened in 2017 it has over 400 employees and is 29,000 square feet. Not only was there a line to get inside, but once you made it in, you had the chance to watch coffee being created. Everything in the store was so aesthetically pleasing, from the wood carved tables to art lining the walls. All the workers were young and friendly, and everyone seemed excited to be there. We ended up spending over an hour here, tasting some of the coffee, shopping for souveniors, and enjoying the ambiance. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip – it was just SO nice!
Nanjing Road, the “Times Square” of China, was another super cool sight. The area once populated with traditional shops has now been replaced by shopping malls. It felt so modern and western, it was surreal to think this was China and not somewhere in the states. My favorite store I went in was a Nike store called Shanghai 001, the Nike House of Innovation.
This Buddhist temple is unique because of its location in the city. The temple sits right in the middle of a business district, with tall and modern buildings lining the sides of it. Nonetheless, once inside the temple, you can still appreciate the beauty and serenity of it. The day I went was rainy so not many people were there, which allowed me to appreciate it in a more peaceful manner. The architecture was incredible, with intricately designed wooden rooftops and pillars. Inside the various rooms were beautiful statues, along with areas to pray nearby.
Here is a bit of history about it: “The temple has a history of more than 780 years. First built in the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), it was named Hudu Chongyuan Temple. In the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), it was moved to the present location from the bank of Wusong River. Later, a famous calligrapher renamed it as Jing’an Temple in 1945 and is still named as such today. Unfortunately, the temple was burnt down to ruins in 1972. However, the reconstruction began after 1984, so the Hall of Heavenly Kings and the Three-Sage Hall were repaired in succession. In 1990, the whole temple was finally opened to the public.” (travelchinaguide.com)
“Little known to Shanghai old timers, Tianzifang has transformed itself from legacy residential architectures and factories into an artsy area housing bars, cafes, crafts shops, design studios, galleries and boutiques. It is ardently supported by crowds of yuppies, trend setters, designers and expatriates, who fall for temptation of old Shikumen houses (stone-framed-door houses) and lanes with infinite novelties.” (travelchinaguide.com) I ended up eating at a cute ramen restaurant here!
Shanghai Tower is the third tallest building in the world, the first being the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the second is the Guangzhou Financial Center, also in China. The Shanghai Tower, although third in the world, is still an incredible 2,073 feet tall, 127 above ground floors and 5 below ground floors. On the first floor of the building there was a mini museum of tall buildings, detailing the different skyscrapers throughout time, the design process, impact on cities, etc. It was so fascinating to see all the different aspects that come into play when designing a building of that magnitude. We were then led to an elevator, that within 55 seconds takes you from the 1st floor to the 118th floor. After stepping out of the elevator, you are greeted with wall to wall windows overlooking the city. After spending a few days walking around the city, it was so cool to see the same city from a bird’s eye view, such a drastically different perspective.
Although it was a bit of a rainy day and there was fog, it was still an incredible feeling. Visiting Shanghai Tower reminded me of my interest in sustainable architecture, and inspired me to see what kinds of amazing things are possible when people push the boundaries of what they believed was possible. To be part of a team that creates a building as magnificent and revolutionary as Shanghai tower would be a true dream.
After my few days in Shanghai, I developed an appreciation for the city in such a way that I know I will be back sometime soon. Whether it is to study or work, I want to be in a place with so much emphasis on diversity, modernization, and innovation. Can’t wait to return!! 🙂