My son, his wife and our two granddaughters flew back to Shanghai, China today. They spend about six weeks in the states in the summer and have jobs in Pu Dong, Shanghai, PRC. They have lived in China for four years. So, as a result of this wonderful son's job, my husband and I have spent about six weeks in China over the last three years. When I say we have "been there and done that", I mean we really have been there and done that. AND I want to be there and do that again really soon.
Shanghai is just a wonderful city in every regard. It has been dubbed the "Paris of the Orient". Charming neighborhoods, interesting shops and just enough of the ancient city remain to make it very charming. The Chinese do not speak English fluently but they are very welcoming and helpful. Expats and tourist collect business cards for their favorite restaurants or locations and hand them to the taxi drivers. Usually you will arrive where you intend to be. The Metro subway system is absolutely wonderful and getting better all the time.
In the year 2010 Shanghai will the hosting a Expo 2010 Shanghai (上海世界博览会) on the water front near the down town. On May 1 the Expo will open to what is expected to be the largest crowds the World Expo's history. The are expecting 60-70 million people at a rate of about 400,000 per day. While this sounds like a huge number of people, we need to keep in mind that Shanghai is one of the largest if not the largest city in the world. Local people and return visitors might increase the count.
Preparations for this have been going on for years and, when they are done, they will have restructures a very large part of the water front on the Nan Pu River that divides the city. The Chinese have moved the shipyard out to an island and torn down some horrible slums to make way for the event. The city will put on a very big show for people around the world. (Widipedia information)
When China hosted the Olympics last year they doubled the size of the airport in Shanghai and over the last couple of years, they have also upgraded their subway system. We found it very easy to get to the center of the city from the east side, (Pu Dong). While shopping downtown is very expensive, you can still find bargains by asking about markets. There are fabric markets, eye glass markets, children's markets and even a wonderful knock off market. This knock off market is located in a subway station on the eastside and inquiries will lead to the location. While the government doesn't want to appear to be breaking international rules on selling knockoffs they don't totally shut this sort of thing down. The market was at one time in the open air in down town Shanghai. When the Olympics drew near they moved the market to it's new location.
Some of the best restaurants can be found in the French Concession. Just wander up and down the street and choose what looks good. You will not be disappointed. I can personally recommend Azul. By going to Frommers restaurant guide you will find the best of the best. I believe Fodors even has a listing in the back of all the restaurants in Chinese and we had a lot of success in showing the Taxi drivers this information.
For the ultimate dining experience, a trip to Pu Dong and the Grand Hyatt would be my choice. You will dine in a restaurant that is unrivaled. The food is magnificent, the view is...words fail me...and the service will spoil you forever. Your table will over look the Pearl Tower and the old city across the river. The evening we dined there the fog made the city look like a fairy land. Located in the Jin Mao Tower, (a building that was at one time the tallest building in the world and according to one website still the tallest in China), the Grand Hyatt has lived up to its name.
There are not many places in the world that I would go to again and again. Shanghai is the exception...I don't think we have even begun to understand and explore this city. We will definitely "be there and do that" again.
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