3:10 to Shanghai

On June 29, 2012, in Cool Places, Featured China Stories, Shanghai, by Jack Li

My time in Beijing is coming to a close, and it’s time to move on with my China travel.  Beijing has been my home for the last month and I have made great friends, had a *ahem* heck of a time, and seen the sights, but it’s time to move on.  It’s time to travel […]

My time in Beijing is coming to a close, and it’s time to move on with my China travel.  Beijing has been my home for the last month and I have made great friends, had a *ahem* heck of a time, and seen the sights, but it’s time to move on.  It’s time to travel to Shanghai.  I just purchased my train ticket.  I just got my tickets, my bag won’t be packed until the last second, and I’m beyond excited to go.

The railway station is a little overwhelming; luckily I did a little research beforehand so I had a relatively painless experience.  Thankfully Beijing Rail Station is its own stop on the subway 2 line, and the exit for the station is clearly marked.  Walk past the backpackers and travelers, past the entrance to the boarding center, past the fast food restaurants, and you’ll find yourself at the ticket terminal.  There are around 40 booths, and one of them speaks English.  It’s not always open though, so look it up before you go.  You need your passport or a copy of it in order to buy a train ticket.

There are a few options for a train.  The first is the bullet train, which takes around 5 hours between Beijing and Shanghai, and is one of the fastest if not the fastest trains in the world.  It’s a little pricey though.  There are also overnight trains that offer a few options.  There is a soft sleeper, which a bed in a room of four beds that locks.  Next is the hard sleeper, which is a three tiered bunk bed that line a train car.  After that is a normal seat.  I’m in college, so I’m traveling it the seat.  I’m sure the other methods of travel are very comfortable, but I want to see the countryside from my seat at the price of a little comfort.  The overnight train also helps us save on accommodation while in Shanghai, which is a huge plus.

Shanghai is a bustling metropolis with much more western influence than my current home of Beijing.  Its skyline is dotted with skyscrapers, and is one of China’s world renowned cities.  I’ve heard it described as the New York City of Asia, and I’m ready to put those statements to the test.  It’s time for me to travel to Shanghai, and I couldn’t be more excited.  China’s bustling metropolis here I come.

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Art in the Park

On May 23, 2012, in Parks & Gardens, Places of Interest, Shanghai, by Jack Li

If you travel to Shanghai and you want to see a little more than just skyscrapers and the modern and fancy aspect of the city, you should check out some of Shanghai’s parks. The Jing’an Sculpture Park, stretching over an area of 30,000 square meters, is a great place where you can see that the […]

If you travel to Shanghai and you want to see a little more than just skyscrapers and the modern and fancy aspect of the city, you should check out some of Shanghai’s parks. The Jing’an Sculpture Park, stretching over an area of 30,000 square meters, is a great place where you can see that the huge city still has some comparably quiet places. It was opened in 2007 and it is one of the biggest parks of its kind in the region, located in Jing’an district which is west of the center and only a five to ten minute walk from Metro line 2, West Nanjing Road station. It is a good recommendation for the more relaxed part of your Shanghai Tours.

 

The exhibited pieces of art which are integrated into the surroundings add to the atmosphere of this park offering interesting sculptures and statues of different sizes, colors and materials from various artists from all over the world. No matter if you’re interested in art and see the sculptures from that perspective or if you just think they are nice decoration, the park offers great scenery for all visitors. Not only kids will love the huge lying bulls in the south west of the park; a group of bull sculptures is scattered over the lawn just like a herd resting in the afternoon heat. In the contrast to this stands the dynamic complex wooden structure behind it which is weaving through the treetops. The ‘Red Beacon’ is the artwork of the famous Belgian artist, sculptor and designer Arne Quinze.

 

Many sculptures in the park were introduced as part of the Jing’an International Sculpture Project about two years ago during the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. This large-scale cultural and art activity was created for the public mainly in the non-core areas of the Expo. Apart from the exhibits numerous fountains throughout the park make it a wonderful place for hot summer days. They are not only great to look at; the view and the quiet sound of splashing water always have a calming effect and when it’s windy it refreshes the air a little.

 

In the mornings this park is a popular place for sports activities especially among the older generation, doing Tai chi, jogging, dancing etc. On the weekends you can see moms with their kids or whole families meeting to spend some time together. Almost every park offers visitors the opportunity to see a little bit of the locals’ life with their customs and habits. Very often you’ll see on journeys that in big cities parks offer an opportunity to get away from the busy city life for locals and visitors just the same. Walking through a park surrounded by trees and seeing the skyscrapers around it will always feel special; the contrast makes it look unnatural and exciting at the same time.

 

In June 2009 another big project started in the Sculpture Park. The Shanghai Natural History Museum will be moved to this new location in late 2012 where a new building is currently being constructed offering a much more convenient location and more modern display space. Numerous exhibits will be moved to the new location which is in many ways more convenient than the existing Natural History Museum. The Jing’an Sculpture Park itself is already worth a visit (there is not even an entrance fee) but with the museum moving there it will be a must see for families coming to Shanghai. Many Shanghai Hotels are located in this area, so if you’re staying close by, don’t miss out on this nice place on your city tours.

Beware of the Wild Insects

On May 22, 2012, in Museums, Places of Interest, Shanghai, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

If you travel to Shanghai with kids you certainly don’t want to miss the most popular places the city has to offer like the Bund or Yu Gardens. But on the other hand kids might get bored of too much sightseeing after a while. For a little break in between the Wild Insect Kingdom is […]

If you travel to Shanghai with kids you certainly don’t want to miss the most popular places the city has to offer like the Bund or Yu Gardens. But on the other hand kids might get bored of too much sightseeing after a while. For a little break in between the Wild Insect Kingdom is a great place for families in particular but in general for everyone interested in nature and animals. And museums are always a great option in case the weather is not so great while you’re on your China Tours.

 

There are not only insects but also a large number of reptiles, amphibians and fish as well as other animals you actually wouldn’t expect in an insect museum. This might come as a surprise to parents but for kids it offers just more exciting things to see. The first animals you see when you walk inside are not insects either. Three ferrets and a seal in a very small tank welcome you at the entrance before you get to the ‘rainforest’. While walking across bridges you’ll pass an alligator and chameleons and you can feed the huge koi fish swimming in the water underneath. The path leads you towards an area with snakes and little monkeys before you get to the actual insects with all kinds of bugs, like walking sticks, beetles, centipedes etc.

 

There is no elevator to the basement floor, so be prepared to carry your stroller down or just leave it there for a while if you don’t really need it. The lower floor is partly decorated like a cave showing more animals in their habitat. The selection of turtles and tortoises is pretty extensive and some are really interesting to look at, not only for kids. There is even a section with goats, bunnies, Guinea pigs and other animals kids love to pet. A great place for younger kids is the little water landscape where they can just play or try to catch some fish. You might consider bringing some clothes to change in case they get themselves all wet. There is a rest area right next to the water place but apart from popcorn you can’t really get anything to eat in the museum, so you should bring enough snacks for while you’re there.

 

The Museum is located in Shanghai’s center close to the Oriental Pearl Tower. You can get there via the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel to cross to the other side of Hunagpu River in case your Shanghai Hotel is located west of it. For young kids this tunnel is already an adventure comparable to an amusement park ride with sound and light effects and meanwhile a convenient way to cross from one side of the river to the other. When you get out of the underground pass you follow along the street on your left hand side and at the next street corner you’ll find a sign towards the museum. The Shanghai Aquarium is also not far, so if you want to see both places you can easily do that on the same day.

Exploring The Expo

On May 8, 2012, in Festivals, Modern Architecture, Places of Interest, by Jack Li

Akin to the National Stadium in Beijing, the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (The Expo) instills a strong sense of accomplishment and legacy even after the conclusion of a major event in the country’s history. The Expo’s location means that it is reachble by the Shanghai metro with Madang Road Station and moreover for Shanghai […]

Akin to the National Stadium in Beijing, the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (The Expo) instills a strong sense of accomplishment and legacy even after the conclusion of a major event in the country’s history. The Expo’s location means that it is reachble by the Shanghai metro with Madang Road Station and moreover for Shanghai flights, it is only a few minutes away from Pudong International airport by train. In light of the outstanding recent developments in the city, there is no doubt you will find quality accommodation from Shanghai hotels which are in close proximity to The Expo.

Interestingly, the Expo 2010 venue in Shanghai was the largest venue of its kind ever (covering over 5.28 square kilometres) which comprised of international expositions and fairs. The 2010 ‘Better City – Better Life’ theme reinforced Shanghai’s status as a world city well into the 21st century. Indeed, Expo 2010 has certainly left an impressive legacy with the site welcoming an unprecedented record of 73 million visitors by the end of Expo 2010.

On face value, you may think that the site may have gone the way of the Millennium Dome in London and lapsed straight after its major event.
However, if anything, the project has moved swiftly on by perpetually creating new exhibits and attractions. For this reason, myself and my friends were generally impressed with the site. In spite of not being able to experience the extravaganza of Expo 2010; funnily enough, there were still people selling passports with stamps from all the countries involved lingering around the Expo Park. Even a model of the Expo mascot, Haibao (with the appearance of a blue Chinese character for people) is noticeable with kids flocking to have their photo taken with him.

On our visit to Expo, we were unable to go inside the most recognisable of the buildings, namely The China Pavillion (or ‘Oriental Crown’, due to its iconic shape). There were, nevertheless, other notable buildings to enter such as the Mercades-Benz Arena. Inside, there are swanky cars on display and some smart restaurants which is a marked contrast from its spaceship-looking exterior! Once in the arena, there is platform (we had some difficulty finding the actual access point) which encircles the arena. From here, you can gaze in awe over the city and even cheekily watch what is going on below; such as the Strawberry Festival in our case.

Happening in both Beijing and Shanghai, the Strawberry Festival is a prime example of how Expo has been utilised since 2010. Considering my friends and I were budgeting at the time, we gave the festival a pass with the prices fetching 120RMB or 300RMB for a three-day pass. Having said this, these prices seem decent compared to the many festivals abroad plus it is an excellent way to polish off an awesome stay on a travel to Shanghai.

 

 

 

 

Shanghai: On the Bus

On May 3, 2012, in Shanghai, Tours, Transportation, by Jack Li

Travel to Shanghai and you will realize it is not too dissimilar from London or New York in terms of its cosmopolitan charm (and the occasional need to carry an umbrella). The city presents a blend of East and West with its Asian food, modern brands and strong European influence in much of its architectural style. Just […]

Travel to Shanghai and you will realize it is not too dissimilar from London or New York in terms of its cosmopolitan charm (and the occasional need to carry an umbrella). The city presents a blend of East and West with its Asian food, modern brands and strong European influence in much of its architectural style. Just by looking at the trees lining the streets, anyone who has been to France will surely be able to make associations with Shanghai. A bus tour may sound like a cliché activity for any newcomer to a major city, but it can still be an effective way to learn about a destination relatively quickly, especially if your stay is short before departing on your Shanghai flights.

The good things is, most tour buses operate a hop-on-hop-off service which means you can see the whole city at your leisure without the arduous task of feeling obliged to sit there for potentially three hours. The open-topped roofs of the buses are half covered, so the back of the bus is left open. Despite the event of finding a wet seat from the rain; the back of the bus is, arguably, where the best views can be seen as you there is no window to hamper photo-taking. The company you meet on the bus often makes the tours a more memorable experience, for better or for worse. Unfortunately my audio did not work on one seat so, naturally, I moved to another with the result being the person next to me falling asleep on my shoulder – fun!

People’s Square acts as the bus route change-over which is ideal if you want to browse some shops before jumping on your next tour with the buses departing every thirty minutes. However, (from personal experience), it’s useful to remember where you put your (paper-thin) ticket and headphones for the next tour. Without the discomfort of listening to a tour guide throughout the tours, bus rides can be a very relaxing affair. All you need to do is switch on your audio set into the seat in front, select the language of your choice and enjoy the ride.

Overall, Shanghai tours are an convenient way to reach areas which are difficult to see via the subway. The spiralling Nanpu Bridge interchange, for example, is a thrilling section of the city which can best experienced on a tour. I sometimes found that the audio was out of sync with the actual landmarks, but on the whole it is easy to follow the descriptions. Besides the seeing the marvellous sights of The Bund with the Oriental Pearl Tower as the centrepiece; the tours passes lessen known features of the city like the former residence of Sun Yat-sen.

 

 

Jade Buddha Temple

On September 1, 2011, in Historical Relics, Places of Interest, Shanghai, Temples, by Jack Li

The Jade Buddha situates in a quiet corner in Putuo District downtown Shanghai. The Jade Buddha Temple was founded in 1882 to house two white jade Buddha statues brought from Burma. Destroyed and then abandoned in the 1911, the temple buildings were. reconstructed on the same site in 1918-28. It is a Song style complex […]

The Jade Buddha situates in a quiet corner in Putuo District downtown Shanghai. The Jade Buddha Temple was founded in 1882 to house two white jade Buddha statues brought from Burma. Destroyed and then abandoned in the 1911, the temple buildings were.

reconstructed on the same site in 1918-28. It is a Song style complex with Chamber of Four Heavenly Kings, Grand Hall and Jade Buddha Chamber lying on the central axis. The Jade Buddha Temple is not necessarily famous for its architecture, but the two Buddhas housed within. Both are made of white jade in Burma and in depict of Shakyamuni Buddha. The most impressive of the two is the seated Buddha, 1.9 meters (6 feet 5 inches) tall, weighing 205 kg (452 lb) and decorated with semi-precious stones. The other statue is a serene and beautiful Reclining Buddha about 1 meter (3 feet 4 inches) long. The two precious jade Buddhist statues are not only valuable cultural relics but also magnificent artworks. Both the Seated Buddha and the Recumbent Buddha are carved with Burman white jade. The sparkling and crystal-clear jade gives the Buddhas a touch of sanctity and lifelikeness. The Seated Buddha is coated by the agate and the emerald, portraying the Buddha at the moment of his meditation. The calm face demonstrates the peacefulness of Sakyamuni when he left the secular world. The Recumbent Buddha lies on the right side with the right hand under his head and the left hand resting on the left leg. This posture is called  “lucky repose”. It was brought from Singapore by the tenth abbot of the temple in 1989. Moreover, there are many other ancient paintings and Buddhist scriptures distributed in the different halls of the temple.

Jade Buddha Temple Story

1.   The History of Jade Buddha Temple

In the Qing Dynasty under Emperor Guangxu’s rule there was a venerable monk named Hugen. One day was not satisfied with preaches in the temple and wanted to spread love and grace of Buddha to more people, thus, he come down the mountain and paid his pilgrimage to Burma where was considered the pure

land of Buddhism. He went through numerous hardships and destitution to finally get there. When he was in Burma, he found there was jade artwork everywhere in the market place. Consequently it occurred to him that it would be a perfect idea to carve the Buddha in this kind of jade. However, he didn’t have enough money to buy the jade. Huigen set up his mind to get this task done. So he travelled across the countries and collected mendicities for the statue. But the money he gathered from begging is far from enough. Fortunately, Huigen met a wealthy merchant who knew he was trying to complete a task that has far-reaching effects. So he chipped in 20,000 Liang silver to help Huigen. Huigen then asked permission of the king of Burma to tap the jade mine. The King asked him in surprise, “You are from China, why you come to our country and want to carve the jade Buddha?” “The Buddha himself took me here.” The Burma king was impressed by his piousness and gave him the permission. It was the very first time for a foreigner to tap the jade mine. Huigen hired several skillful craftsmen to carve five Buddha statues in different sizes and postures. Excited and content he placed the statues on a ship and took them back to China. Nonetheless, when he transferred them from sea ferries to river ferries in Shanghai, he can not do so because the statues are too heavy for such small boats. As he was stuck in Shanghai one of the Qing government officers persuaded him to leave the Buddha statues in Shanghai to spread love for local folks. Huigen agreed to leave two of the five, the Seated one and the Recumbent one. The Jade Buddha Temple was build in remembrance of Huigen housing the two valuable Buddha statues.

The Shanghai Bund Travel Tips

On August 26, 2011, in Modern Architecture, Places of Interest, Shanghai, Travel Info, by Jack Li

The Shanghai Bund is on the bank of the Huangpu River in downtown Shanghai. It is a famous attraction which is regarded as a place tourists must visit. The Bund is also called Zhongshandongyi Road. It is about 1.5 kilometres long. To the east of the Bund is the Huangpu River, and to the west […]

The Shanghai Bund is on the bank of the Huangpu River in downtown Shanghai. It is a famous attraction which is regarded as a place tourists must visit. The Bund is also called Zhongshandongyi Road. It is about 1.5 kilometres long. To the east of the Bund is the Huangpu River, and to the west are fifty-two different buildings. These buildings have different styles, such as gothic, Roman and European.

The Best Time to visit the Shanghai Bund

Belonging to a semi tropical monsoon climate, Shanghai’s seasons have its own characteristics. The spring is warm, the summer is hot, the autumn is cool and the winter is cold. It rains enough around the year, neither too much nor too little. The hottest months are July and August with over 10 days’ temperature being more than 35℃. The coldest days are from the end of January to the beginning of February. There are not many very cold days, but the weather is really wet in winter. Usually people from the north of China cannot stand it. There is very little snow in Shanghai. The best time to visit Shanghai is from March to May. There are sudden rainshowers but it becomes sunny very quickly between the middle of June to the beginning of July. Rains of these twenty days amount to a quarter of the total raining volume. It’s not easy to go travelling. From the end of August to the middle of September is a period of typhoons when there is a lot of rainfall. Travellers had better bring umbrellas.

Shanghai Bund Tickets

You don’t need a ticket to tour around the Bund

Tourist Tunnel: Adult: 50 yuan; Child: 25 yuan

Single Tour: 45 yuan per person; Return: 50 yuan

How to Get to the Shanghai Bund

Take bus 33, 37, 55, 65,868,921, or 928 and get off at the stop Nanjing East Road of Zhongshandongyi Road;

Take bus 33, 42, 65, 123 interval, 135, 135 interval, 145, 576, 910 or 928 and get off at the stop Zhangshandongyi Road of Hankou Road;

Take the tunnel Line 9 and get off at the stop Zhangshandongyi Road of Guangdong Road

Take bus 123, 123 interval, 135, 135 interval, 576, 868, 910, 934 and get off at the stop Zhangshandongyi Road of Yandong Road

Take 26, 145, 926, or tunnel Line 9 and get off at the stop Zhongshendong’er road of Jinling

East Road;

Take bus 33,55, 65, 576,868,910,928 and get off at the stop Xinkaihebei Road of Zhongshandong’er Road;

Take bus 26, 926 and get off at the stop Xinkaihe

Take bus 33, 55, 65, 736, 801, 868, 910 or 928 and get off at the stop Shiliupu

Take ferry Line Dongjin and get off at the stop Jinling East Road.

Garden Bridge of Shanghai

On August 26, 2011, in Activities, Places of Interest, Shanghai, by Jack Li

The Garden Bridge of Shanghai is one of the landmark architectures of the old Shanghai. It is downstream on the estuary of Suzhou River where it is near the west side of the Huangpu Park and connecting the Zhongshandongyi Road and Dongdaming Road. The Garden Bridge is the first all-steel structure bridge in China. It […]

The Garden Bridge of Shanghai is one of the landmark architectures of the old Shanghai. It is downstream on the estuary of Suzhou River where it is near the west side of the Huangpu Park and connecting the Zhongshandongyi Road and Dongdaming Road. The Garden Bridge is the first all-steel structure bridge in China. It was built by Shanghai Municipal Council. The bridge was designed and constructed by British engineers and the steel material was imported from Britain. As an important channel between the east and the north of Shanghai, the bridge has a volume of pedestrians and traffic. The French Bridge is a similar bridge as the Garden Bridge of Shanghai but does not have an all steel structure. It was built in 1907, five years earlier than the Garden Bridge. Shanghai’s development has a tight connection with the river. The Garden Bridge is the channel between the downtown Shanghai where there is the financial industry and the east of Shanghai where there are the trade and transportation industries.

The Garden Bridge of Shanghai has a long history of over a hundred years. It hasn’t had as much transportation capacity as before. Nowadays it’s more like an attractive spot where travellers from home and abroad can take photos and appreciate the scenery there. In the hearts of many overseas Chinese, there is always a strong feeling of homesickness.

The Shanghai Bund (Waitan)

Shiliupu Street

On August 26, 2011, in Modern Architecture, Places of Interest, Rivers & Gorges, Shanghai, by Jack Li

The Shiliupu Street is outside the Baodai Gate. To the east of the Shiliupu street is the Huangpu River, to the west of the Shiliupu street is Fengdan Road. Taiping Lane is in the south of the Shiliupu Street and Longtan Road is in the north of the Shiliupu Street. The street is near to […]

The Shiliupu Street is outside the Baodai Gate. To the east of the Shiliupu street is the Huangpu River, to the west of the Shiliupu street is Fengdan Road. Taiping Lane is in the south of the Shiliupu Street and Longtan Road is in the north of the Shiliupu Street. The street is near to both the water and the city. Near the Shiliupu Shanghai Bus Station, there are newly built shopping malls, restaurants, and hotels. They provide over 900 sets of rooms and more than 2000 beds for travellers. The new logo of the street was launched on the 7th, August 2009. It was selected from more than 2000 works. The new logo is from an advertisement designer who has a special emotion for the street. It has clouds and lotus of the Huangpu River and three waves of water to show the geographic features of Shanghai. There is a very attractive small three-story building in the Shiliupu Street. The local people and visitors can both stay in the building, appreciate the scenery along the river and see the big change of Shanghai in the past decades.

The Shanghai Bund (Waitan)

Huangpu Park

On August 26, 2011, in Parks & Gardens, Places of Interest, Shanghai, by Jack Li

The Huangpu Park is the first official park in Shanghai. The park is at the No. 28 on the Zhongshandongyi Road. The park is connected with the Huangpu River in the east and the Suzhou River in the north. To the west of the park is the Huangpu River and to the south of the […]

The Huangpu Park is the first official park in Shanghai. The park is at the No. 28 on the Zhongshandongyi Road. The park is connected with the Huangpu River in the east and the Suzhou River in the north. To the west of the park is the Huangpu River and to the south of the park are plants of the Bund. Built in 1886, the Huangpu Park is the earliest garden in a European style. It also witnessed years of great changes. In the park there is the Shanghai Monument to the People’s Heroes with the History Memorial of the Bund on the bottom.

Pujiang Tide: It is a large-scale bronze statue of a worker fighting with huge waves in the sea. The man seems dynamic and powerful. The statue indicates that the proletariats are strong and brave. The works of the Pujiang Tide is to memorize the great devotion that Shanghai working class made to China’s revolution and development.

The granite sculptures of Shanghai in the past 10 decades: They lie on the round island of the Huangpu Park. The sculptures are 120 metres long, and 3.8 metres high. The sculptures are about people’s fights in Shanghai between 1840 and 1949. The two sides of the sculptures are flower rings, which show people’s condolences over these revolution pioneers. There are in all seven different sculptures of 97 pioneers.

The Shanghai Bund (Waitan)

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