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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shanghai: After thoughts

It was a real struggle writing about our Shanghai trip for many reasons.  I admit that I carried some emotional baggage, whether justifiable or not, which was hard for me to experience Shanghai on a clean slate.  On top of it, the blogger failed on me and wiped out two days of my work, which surely did not help the situation. (Note to myself -  always save a back up draft.)

Growing up with the shadow of intertwined history between China and Taiwan; seven miserable years working for a Chinese owned company in New York where I witnessed many unethical and questionable business practices; the fact that China remains to be one of the most tightly controlled communist countries…. the list goes on.  All of them fed into my negative impression of China as a whole. 

When friends asked how I liked Shanghai, I had trouble forming a precise and neatly packed answer.  I knew that I liked certain geographical areas of Shanghai: Pudong,  the Bund, Tianzifang, and Xintiandi.  The rest of Shanghai failed to impress or excite me.  As for H, he also had a similar mix of feelings towards Shanghai.  

Since I grew up in Taipei, and Taipei was the first city in Asia that H was introduced to, it was hard for us not to compare both cities. And yes, we are probably biased.  We may have a different impression of Shanghai if we have not experienced Taipei.  So, don't take our words for it, Go visit Shanghai, and tell me what you think. 

Tips -
  • Transportation:  The Shanghai Metro was a great way to go about town.  But the last trains of all lines stopped between 10 to 12 PM.  If you stay in Shanghai for few days, using the Shanghai Public Transportation Card would be a good option to save you the hassle to purchase tickets for every single ride.  Purchase the standard card not only is cheaper but also allows you to get refunds for the remaining balance at designated Metro stations.  Taxi is a great option for transportation which is cheap and convenient as well.
  • Language: It might be challenging for foreigners who do not read or speak Chinese to navigate outside of Shanghai without a local guide.  Many of the railroads, metro, museums or tourist information websites also do not have an English version.  Make sure to do your homework before the trip if you are not with a tour.
  • Public restroom: There are plenty of public restrooms in Shanghai, but many of them do not have toilet paper and hand soap.  Purchase some paper soap and take them with you. You can’t find paper soap in Shanghai.

BEGINNING:  Shanghai: Prelude

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