The main reason why my family wanted to take this trip to Shanghai was because they wanted to visit the Shanghai World Expo 上海世博, and this was the main event for today. But after depositing us at the Shanghai World Expo, my parents decided we could go our own ways. Well, let’s just say I wasn’t that interested in the World Expo, as I am not a huge fan of queues, and it being a China event, queues were inevitable.
Anyway, I went into the Shanghai World Expo, thinking to myself that I will go to the one country that I might have the most trouble accessing in my world quest – Saudi Arabia. When I saw the line, I gave up. I think it will take less effort for me to get into the real Saudi Arabia than to spend that six hours in line to get in. I did go into the exhibition halls for the ‘smaller’ (in a geopolitical sense, not in an area sense) countries, like the Africa exhibition hall and the Oceania exhibition hall. It is kinda stereotypical, but part of me was just trying to justify the entrance fee. Anyway, after about two hours, I kinda gave up, and decided to explore the city of Shanghai instead, revisiting some old haunts, and seeing others that I didn’t get a chance to see in my previous trips.
First stop – Cheng Huang Miao 城隍庙 (Temple of the City God). I guess I went there first, because it was the last memorable place I went in one of my last trips to Shanghai. The changes were … jaw-dropping. It really hit home the point that China is changing fast (duh). The last time I went there was in 2005, when I went to Nanjing as an exchange student. Back then, it was busy and commercial, but not to this extent. This time, when I got off the cab, the first thing I saw were many shops in a big mall with Haagen Daaz and Marks & Spencer. It was really shocking for me. Anyway, the last time, I didn’t go into the temple itself, so this time round, I stepped in for a look.
After visiting the Temple of the City God, I decided visit the French Concession to look at the architecture of colonial Shanghai (sorry! – about the use of the world colonial). It does really give one the sense of Shanghai’s unique architecture, as it is a mishmash of Chinese architecture and Western colonial architecture. Sometimes, I do wonder why Singapore doesn’t keep as much of the colonial architecture as part of its heritage. I can understand the part about defining a new nation, but, well, I guess I also think that we don’t make things like we used to.
Another part of my trip involved me stuffing my face with my favourite dumpling shop – Da Niang dumpling 大娘水饺. I definitely went all out this time round, and went for 4 jin of dumplings, which equates to about 24 dumplings. I topped that off with a sliced beef vermicelli soup. It just reminds me of one of my favourite combos when I used to live in China. Over the course of five months, I think I ate more than 1000 dumplings. Impressive, eh? 🙂
That amount of food naturally induced a food coma. So, I took an evening nap, and waking at 10pm, I decided to take a walk along the Bund. This is perhaps the epitome of colonial architecture in Shanghai. To quote my cousin, who’s a trained architecture, the Bund is “a museum of architecture”. It is definitely one of my favourite stretches in Shanghai, and when the lights go up, it is simply spectacular. There is something about the city of Shanghai that enthralls me, and the song that runs through my head every time I am there is the very haunting Shanghai Night 夜上海 from the early-twentieth century. As I stroll along the streets of Shanghai with its beautiful architecture, the song just keeps playing on auto-repeat. Well, I will leave you pictures to let you see what I saw that captured my soul.
Dutch Exhibition in Shanghai Expo
Temple of City God
My favourite meal at Da Niang Dumpling
New Shanghai – Pudong
Shanghai Bund at Night
The Bund after Lights Out