Nanjing Road is a famous street in Shanghai, the largest metropolis of China. Here you can walk down to the Huangpu River and enjoy an iced coffee and double scoop ice cream in sight of colorful billboards, beautiful facades, and crowds during the day and night on one of the most popular avenues in the world.
The name Nanjing means “southern capital” while Beijing (Peking) means “northern capital.” Nanjing, which was a capital to 6 dynasties, passed this title to Beijing many times with Beijing currently holding the title of capital since 1949.
While walking on Nanjing Avenue, it is almost impossible to resist the temptation to enter at least one store. You can find yourself running from store to store, shopping mall to shopping mall; there are designs and products that can attract even the attention of people not interested in shopping. The luxurious shopping malls, which are easy to spot on the avenue, sell original products at jaw-dropping prices which are non-negotiable. I happened to enter a shopping mall like this by chance and after seeing the prices I said, “Is there a hidden camera some place? This must be a joke!” The prices really are spectacularly high. That said, the products were so beautiful… It’s kind of like landing in the belly of a poisonous flower after being seduced by its aroma involuntarily; you shouldn’t buy it, but it will plague your mind if you don’t. People trying to entice you into their stores with business cards in their hands may accost you during this shopping rush. Of course these people are mostly really about sales, but what if you miss a genuine bargain? Frankly, I didn’t trust these people, and I would advise you to be careful too.
The night on Nanjing Avenue is much nicer however; you may take sightseeing boat tours on the Huangpu River. Unfortunately, I spent most of this boat tour, which gives you the chance to see the city at its best from various angles, with a young child trying to walk clumsily back and forth. Little bells that their parents tie to the children’s cuffs let them know every movement that the children make.
– Now walking: RING RING RING RING
– Now running: RINGRINGRINGRING
– Now going up the stairs: RINGGG RINGGG RINGGG
-RARINGRINGRING RING RINGGG: Now he/she fell!
Kind of neat right? Isn’t it a really nice and helpful thing? I think that it is at least more useful compared to the rope system, which prevents children from falling down. What parent would want their child to fall down and hurt him/herself? If a child is ever hurt, his/her parents are hurt even worse. However, just preventing the child from falling probably isn’t the best thing to do. Isn’t it better for the child to experience the pain once to understand that he/she needs to be careful not to fall? I believe that this system is more useful in the way that it creates the chance for the child to form his/her experiences and addresses the concerns of the parents. Oh by the way, the night view of Shanghai was really glorious! 🙂
If you go there in the morning you can visit the nearby Shanghai National Museum free of charge. In the giant 4-story museum, you can see a summary of the history of Chinese civilization, including a short history of the city. However, I should mention that you the security guards will seize your lighter should you have one, and may not return it, especially if it looks in any way fancy.
The easiest way to travel in Shanghai is the Hop-on Hop-off city tour buses. You can visit the most popular touristic places using these buses, which run on 3 different routes. The time you will spend waiting for buses at the stops marked on the maps handed out to you will never be more than 20 minutes.
My first stop on my Hop-on Hop-off bus route was the Jing’an (Peace and Tranquility) Temple. With its golden foil decorations, this temple is quite a flamboyant structure when you look at it from the outside. It was constructed in such a way that one hall leads into other halls. It is made up of a few buildings lined up on a wider area. When I first saw the temple from the outside I thought to myself, “I will spend at least 2 hours in here!” But, unfortunately not all areas are open to tourists.
The lighting used indoors is very old and they have huge ventilators to cool these areas. Even though at first I was surprised to find a cooling system in one of the most touristic spots in Shanghai, after a while I found I liked this system. I saw what I came to see, and finished my trip without breaking a sweat, what else could I ask for? The Jing’an Area, where the temple is located, is at a very central location and has beautiful cafés, parks, and shops in which you can take coffee breaks.
The Jade-Buddha Temple was my second stop. The Buddha statue in the middle of the dimly lit room carved out of white jade stone in this temple had a distinct feature in my eyes. I had never seen this expression on any of the statues I had seen till then. The eyes seem to be focused somewhere down below so as to not see anything, instead of looking ahead. The slight smile on his face has a hidden expression which makes you feel innocence, virtue, reclusion, acceptance, wisdom, and everything involving tranquility.
Due to the ban on taking photos, I absolutely wanted to go buy a picture of it from the souvenir shop. However, none of the pictures that I looked at made me feel the same way as when I had seen that expression with my own eyes. Often it is the exact opposite: You see a photo of something and really like it, but then you get to see the real thing and instead end up not feeling the same emotion you felt when you looked at the picture.
By the way, even though it is a lot smaller than the Jing’an Temple, it is a temple with small halls spread around the courtyard and while snooping around to see everything, I accidentally entered the priests’ housing. Maybe they don’t find strangers entering the housing inconvenient, because I didn’t see any warning signs anywhere.
The Yu Garden is a place that you can’t miss if you go to Shanghai. The garden was built in 1559 by a loyal son from the Ming Dynasty for his father to live out his elderly days in tranquility. The garden has changed hands many times through inheritance and thanks to few local entrepreneurs the east garden was opened to the public in 1780. This historic area covered with old buildings and Chinese lanterns looks better with each photo taken.
The pool in front of the garden also has a historic store selling dumplings next to it. I waited for 1 hour in the rain wondering what this shop where both locals and tourists had made long lines could be. The rain wasn’t a problem: I had a raincoat given to me on the bus. I won’t comment on the dumplings to avoid creating prejudice, because I do not know much about food or dumplings. Your experiences are always the best ones. But considering that I had been soaked under that much rain, gotten cold, skipped a meal to fit in more places to visit until the last departure time of the Hop-on Hop-off bus, and that I was seriously hungry, I would think that I should have felt much better about the dumplings than I did. Let’s not forget the hand-held fans. The Yu Garden is a hand-held fan heaven with beautiful fans of all styles and prices whether you want them for a collection or daily use.
My trip back hinged on me knowing key survival techniques. I missed the last departure time of the bus. While I was waiting at the bus stop, a very old lady with a torn hat, baggy underwear, no teeth, and no unwrinkled skin on her face came up to me and asked for money. I gave her the change from the dumplings, and then it happened. Ten more old ladies suddenly appeared out of nowhere and surrounded me. It was time to find myself a taxi. I couldn’t agree on a fare with the taxi driver and even though I agreed to pay what he asked for he got mad and didn’t let me in. As stubborn as I am, I started walking.
I headed towards the tall, well-lit tower that I knew was close to my hotel, but due to the fact that various spots were closed off to pedestrians, my trip took 3 hours with the incredible zigzags that I made. During the trip I got to see a public market, and this was really nice. I guess that it was my reward after all the trouble with the rain and mud; I spent a jolly time in that market.
I was tired enough that I shouldn’t have been able to dream, but nonetheless I dreamt of Shanghai even though I was still there. I dreamt of the Shanghai which helped me make the best of my time with everything it offered, and which still makes me laugh as I remember my beautiful experiences there.