My first of 3 full days here in Shanghai.
I woke up this morning without a clear idea of what I wanted to do today.
While I had mapped out my days ahead of time with all the things I wanted to see, I was still feeling the after effects of food poisoning from a few days ago.
Of course, the fact that it was raining for the first time in the two weeks I’ve been traveling didn’t help.
Part of me just wanted to stay in all day and veg out and the other part of me was like “hey, there’s a whole city out there to explore!”
In the end I decided I would venture out briefly to explore one of the things on my list to see in the city and save the rest for another day.
At 10am I headed out toward the waterfront where The Bund is.
The Bund is basically a seawall along the Huangpu River where tourists take their photos with the stylish buildings of the Pudong side across the river in the background.
The rain actually wasn’t even that bad, more of a drizzle really. Also, it was warmer here in Shanghai as we were further south. Not much warmer but still enough where I didn’t have to bundle up and wear a scarf.
After a week of being told when to get up and where to go and what to see, it was nice to finally just go out there on my own with no set pace and no set plan.
After a short 20 minute walk I had reached The Bund.
I didn’t need a map to tell me either as I reached an area crawling with hundreds of Chinese tourists all adorning umbrellas taking photos along the seawall.
Oh yeah, Chinese New Year is still going on strong…
In fact, this scene of being swarmed by hundreds of Chinese people with colorful umbrellas would be a recurring theme for the day.
Naturally the day I’m here exploring The Bund, there is a deep fog covering the upper half of the buildings on the Pudong side but, whatever, there was something about the grey skies, fog and light drizzle that was kind of romantic.
Bund Sightseeing Tunnel
My peaceful walk which had turned into a crowded walk soon turned into tourist bedlam as I headed to the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel down below.
Now, all I heard about the Bund Tunnel was that it was a 3D experience and people on Trip Advisor had recommended it as something to do while here.
Oh, Trip Advisor, how you have failed me yet again…
As I went down the escalator I was met by hundreds of pushy people queuing in line to by tickets for the ride (50yuan, $10 one way | 70yuan, $14 return).
From there I went into an even longer line waiting for the little electric cars that take you through the tunnel.
At least the cars came every minute and they loaded 15 people at a time so the line went fairly quickly.
The tunnel ride itself, well…
Like, seriously lame!
Considering it was billed as a 3D show, all it was was some flashing strobe lights and electronica music.
So, so lame.
Anyway, after only a 5 minute ride we were at the other end of the tunnel.
Now, I had assumed that tunnel was actually under The Bund seawall but it turns out that it’s actually a tunnel under the river to the Pudong side.
In retrospect, I don’t know how I didn’t piece that together ahead of time. I mean, duh, a tunnel goes under the water.
By the way you can just take the metro to the Pudong side for 5 yuan ($1) so don’t waste your money on the tunnel ride.
Well, here I was – unexpectedly on the Pudong side of the river.
I hadn’t marked off anything on my map on the Pudong side and it soon became obvious why.
Holy tourist trap!
I thought The Bund was crawling with tourists…
Well, multiply it by 10 and you’ve got Pudong.
As I exited to the street level into the now pouring rain I was hit by tourism overload.
An aquarium, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, a Disney Store…
And people everywhere.
In the pouring rain!
Nope, nope, nope.
Not the Shanghai I wanna see…
After walking around for a bit mostly just snapping photos of the chaos, I headed back into the tunnel of lame a half hour later.
Back on what I now consider “the good side” of the river it was ironically (or maybe not so much) not pouring rain and only drizzling again.
Instead of heading back along the seawall the way I had come I decided to head up into town along the first major road I saw.
That road ended up being Nanjing Road which, I soon found out, is the high end district of Shanghai and also the way everyone from the metro makes their way down to The Bund.
What I’m saying is I was walking against the flow of hundreds of umbrella clad people walking towards me.
Surrounded by high end hotels, Gucci and Forever 21, I eventually made my way through the madness and took the first left I could to get out of it.
That was crazy! Like swimming upstream…
So many umbrellas!
Chenghuang Ancient Street
By now it was just before noon and my lack of hunger over the last few days was ending.
In the last 60 hours I had only eaten a bag of chips and a cold KFC burger but now I was craving food again.
In particular, I was craving my favorite Chinese street food – Jianbing.
I turned off of Nanjing Road the first chance I had and headed back to the area where my hostel was.
I knew there were alot of street food stalls and shops along the way in the hutongs (or lanes) heading towards my hostel so it seemed like the perfect place to find me some Jianbing.
I ended up on Chenghuang Ancient Street where the Yuyuan Garden and Temple are which, you guessed it, was again swarming with tourists.
Okay, I see how it is.
Just gonna be tourists, tourists everywhere.
Think I’m exgatterating?
Anyway, turns out Jianbing is not as easy to find as I would have though and after a fruitless search I ended up in an indoor food court.
Did I mention the food court was indoors?
Ah, out of the rain for awhile.
The place itself was 3 levels high with hundreds of premade dishes available to you.
Even with three levels, the place was still bustling with people everywhere and finding a place to sit wasn’t the easiest thing.
I ended up picking up some shrimp potstickers and fried rice.
Not quite Jianbing but too shabby either.
After stopping at a small stall to buy a much needed belt for only 15yuan ($3), I took the short walk back to my hostel.
It was 3pm and I honestly didn’t feel like doing anything else.
I was wet and still not 100%.
And the crowds…
So many people out there!
Also, the last week in North Korea was intense go-go-go and I almost feel like I need time to decompress.
So, other than a short trip out later in the night to get some dinner, that was my day.
Now, as I reread this, it seems like it was a miserable day for me just bitching about crowds.
But, I’m really not miserable at all.
It was an experience and every experience, good or bad, is an adventure to regale in later.