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Discovering Adventure: Tom goes to Shanghai

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Discovering Adventure: Tom goes to Shanghai

Lifeventure staff member Tom visited Shanghai recently. We asked him for his Shanghai top tips!

Q: So, why did you choose Shanghai?

A: Shanghai is called the ‘Paris of the East’ and that East-West melting pot is really appealing. The city had a busy port in the 19th century and has had a cosmopolitan reputation ever since. It’s had a huge amount of investment in recent years and really sees itself as the flagship of New China with skyscrapers and shopping malls. But when you venture into the ‘low rise’ area of the former French Concession with its old world charm, you feel like you’ve gone back in time 100 years.

Q: What are the top three unmissable attractions?

A: 1. The newest attraction is the Shanghai Tower which has an observation deck called ‘Top of Shanghai’. It’s the second tallest building in the world and has the tallest observation deck - by 20m! It also has the fastest elevators in the world which travel at 12m a second and really make your ears pop! It’s a great way to get the scope of this huge city and understand the lay of the land from on high. It costs 160RMB, or about £17.

2. Yuyuan Gardens are beautiful and have a traditional tea house which is definitely worth a visit, even if it is a bit touristy. In the middle of the gardens is the Currow ancient stone. It weighs 5 tonnes. The story is that it was destined for Beijing’s Imperial Palace, but the boat sank off Shanghai.

3. Don’t miss a scenic walk down the Nanjing Road, along with the rumoured 1 million other people a day who visit it. This is a 5.5km pedestrianised street that runs from the People’s Square down to the Bund. It’s where the fashionable Shanghainese go to stroll, shop and chat. It’s like strolling down London’s Embankment and gives you views over the skyline of Shanghai.

Q: How was the food?

A: The food was amazing. If you like Chinese food, it’s on a different level. Soup dumplings or xiaolong bao, are a very Shanghainese thing to try and we had donkey ones! The dumplings are made with a thin skin wrapped around meat and somehow, a shot of hot soup too.

Q: Are there any customs that took you by surprise?

A: Yes! The biggest thing you’ll experience as a tourist is the Chinese disregard for queueing. Don’t be surprised if someone simply stands in front of you in a queue. You’ll soon learn to stand right back in front of them and the weirdest thing is they’re not bothered. It’s just the done thing. There’s also a particular penchant for burping and spitting!

Q: Best areas to stay?

A: The best area to stay is on the Puxi (pronounced “Pooshi”) side of the river. It’s where all the major tourist sites and restaurants are. Pudong is the skyscraper area on the airport side of the river.

Q: Best way to get around?

A: The Metro is incredibly cheap costing only a few pence per journey. The easiest thing to do is get a travel card and put money on it like with an Oyster card. Don’t miss a journey on the Maglev high speed train to or from the airport. It’s maximum speed is 430km a hour!

Q: What was the most useful Lifeventure travel product you took?

A: I took a pocket-sized SoftFibre quick drying travel towel! It was incredibly humid so it really came in handy. I also didn’t go anywhere without my Ultralite Packable Daysack and my RFID body wallet. And don’t forget your Lifesystems mosquito repellant! I did and paid the price!

Q: Were the locals friendly?

A: People will always be inquisitive. If you say “ni hao” (hello) you’ll always get a smile back. It’s essential to learn a few words of Mandarin before you go, they’ll get you a long way.

Q: What about a visa?

A: The UK and China have a relatively new trade deal which has made it much easier for Brits to travel to China. You now get a two-year visa which allows you to make multiple trips to the country.

Q: What would you go back for?

A: Next time I’d like to go to the ancient Water Towns which are just outside Shanghai and accessible by train. They’re made up of canals, bubbling streams, willow trees and ancient buildings. I’ll also be going to the massive fabric market to get a handmade suit!

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