Day 6 – Jiaxing to Shanghai

We went for breakfast early as usual. This restaurant on the second floor was rather posh. The buffet spread was much better than the rest of the hotels we had stayed so far. Food quality was really good. We had a great breakfast this morning. Jackie was right. Sunshine Hotel was a good hotel in Jiaxing and one of the best on our lists of hotels for our China tour.

Having rested a while more in our room, we returned our room key to front desk. Our bags were already collected by the porters earlier. Sunshine Hotel is located along a main road. When everything was settled, we boarded our bus at the main entrance and started our tour for the day.

This morning, we would be visiting the Transformers Theme Park founded by Mr. Iron Team. This is the first park themed with the steel carving art for robots in China. Jiaxing is a small city. In about 20 minutes, we arrived at an industrial park area where this theme park was located. We alighted and noticed there was a car cut into two halves artistically erected on the road divider in front of the theme park entrance.

We wasted no time to enter the theme park with great excitement. We were not going for some thrill rides but to admire some metal art pieces here. The hall at the entrance wasn’t very impressive but there were a few pieces of metal art objects served as decorative art pieces. However, once we stepped into the open compound, it was a different world altogether.

We were greeted with huge, tall, colourful transformer pieces. They were really impressive indeed. All these objects were made from recycled parts. Jackie mentioned that some former university students set up this theme park. These people are really creative.

So we ventured into this open park in a factory like setup. Everyone was moving about taking pictures excitedly like little kids having found some new toys. The weather was really good this winter morning which was not very cold and we had sunlight which caused these art pieces to really stand out in the crowd.

We roamed around the compound to admire these metal creatures of all sorts and sizes and posed with them for selfies as we went along. Even cartoon characters were made by the skillful hands of these creative people using recycled parts.

Having had fun with the outdoor art pieces, we went indoor for more eye-opening art pieces. There were trains and trucks and beautiful bikes on display. The art objects indoor were smaller in size but no less interesting. They were colourfully painted and these objects on display were eye-catching indeed.

After spending some time at this theme park, it then dawned upon us that we were the only visitors. We had the whole park to ourselves. We didn’t see any staff other than those in the small hall at the main entrance. However, we did hear machining noises in this factory of the theme park. Jackie told us the good folks here continued to produce new art objects all the time from recycled parts they collected. So this theme park would be having new exhibits on display continually.

Having spent about 45 minutes here, it was time to move on to Shanghai. It was 9.15 am when we set off on the road heading to our last destination city for our Jiangnan tour in China. Shanghai was not very far away and we would arrive early for lunch before we start our tour in Shanghai.

On the way to Shanghai, Jackie told us our driver Mr. Zhang was fined for entering a no entry side road at Westlake in Hangzhou the day before. He would probably be penalized with demerit points too. Jackie also told us our itineraries in Shanghai were not too packed for the two nights we would be staying there. So he informed us that having discussed with Mr. Zhang, they proposed additional places to visit with an ancient water town near Shanghai plus other shopping area, especially to a big mall where copied products were sold. Jackie mentioned that we just had to compensate our driver for the extra fuel cost and parking charges for this extra places of interest he suggested to make our Shanghai tour more fruitful and exciting.

So there were some questions raised by tour members because some were interested to purchase copied goods. Of course others were not keen. We were likewise not interested because of bad experiences in the past where some vendors were aggressive and the mall stank with cigarettes smell. Jackie suggested we help our driver out for the traffic offence.

For the extra itineraries, a family of four would have to fork out over S$200. How much fake goods one would need to purchase to recover this outlay, some were wondering. Thus, not everyone was keen on this proposal. The driver was talking with Jackie all the time while he was putting up this proposal to us so the suggested places of interest were from the driver. Nevertheless, Jackie told us to consider and discuss among ourselves and then let him know after lunch.

We arrived in Shanghai just after 11 am. We went straight for lunch at a huge restaurant in a complex with a big carpark. We remembered coming to this place two years ago. The restaurant is catered to tour groups for the convenience of parking tour buses here. This restaurant was rather push too. We settled down for lunch and talked among ourselves concerning Jackie’s proposal for the extra itineraries. It was quite obvious that most of us were not interested and especially to be milked to help the driver pay his fine. This extra cost was not really cheap and we wondered how much Jackie would benefit from this venture.

Well, the lunch was good and we enjoyed our meal. The food quality was good and after all this was Shanghai and not some backward city in China. We then walked around to explore this huge restaurant. This is one of the up market seafood restaurant in Shanghai.

With lunch over and back on the bus, we launched out to our first destination in Shanghai. Jackie was also told that we were not interested in the extra attractions he proposed earlier. So Jackie was a little quiet while we were on the way to visit a Health Care Shop in Shanghai. It took about 25 minutes to reach this health care shop.

We entered the premise and were brought into a room to watch a presentation. We had been to such presentations several times in the past and we knew what this was all about. This time however, the presentation had gone high-tech via video and no longer conducted by a white coat Chinese physician holding some prominent titles bragging about famous personalities getting healed by traditional Chinese medicine.

The video started with the birth of a child and his subsequent growth and eventually became an adult. Due to the stressful lifestyle in this modern world and of course including pollution of the environment, health of a person would be compromised. While striving for success in this competitive world, the person failed to take care of his health. There were some examples of famous personalities dying young. So now the blame was shifted to the person for failing to take care of himself leaving his parents behind and this was really unfilial. So we had an NLP-Neuro Linguistic Programming sales pitch thrown at us. This was really good and they had improved by leaps and bounds and were no longer using famous characters like some prime ministers been healed by their prestigious TCM group.

With the video presentation over and the ground had been softened and some folks terrified concerning their health conditions, white coat physicians started coming in and being introduced with high sounding titles we won’t understand and couldn’t verify. Those who wished to have their palms read and examined were encouraged to lift up their hands with palms facing outward and so one after another followed these physicians to another room for private consultation. Those of us who were not keen folded our hands and some physicians were of course disappointed and left. We likewise made our move and went to the shop on the ground floor to explore.

We were hoping to buy some lingzhi from the shop which we did during our last trip. Unfortunately, they were not available. We also enquired about the famous Bao Fu Ling cream that is very effective for burns and rashes, but the price had gone up substantially. We could now purchase the same cream from a vendor outside Tesco supermarket at KLS City Mall in Johor Bahru at a lower price so we didn’t make any purchase. So we were chatting among ourselves who escaped some unwanted consultations but the whole place was permeated with stinking cigarette smell because the driver was smoking somewhere indoor.

Soon more families returned to join us to exchange notes on what happened during the consultation. Of course the scare tactics failed and they didn’t fork out huge some to buy some peace of mind. We waited for a long time for another family and we thought the consultation might be fruitful and Jackie would have some sales turnover. After some time, this family eventually emerged and we didn’t know whether to feel happy or sorry for them. We soon learned that they didn’t make any purchase on the recommended TCM medications. The cost was simply too exorbitant! Over in Shanghai we won’t be having a local guide so Jackie would be the local guide. So we handed him a big fat zero for this first sales stop.

This however is not to discredit Traditional Chinese Medicine. Unfortunately in the past, we had had bad experience dealing with some of their physicians. During the previous trip, the physician insisted we gave him complete faith and trust which we of course refused. When we mentioned we would like to seek second opinion, he was offended. This man even claimed to have worked in one of our institution here in Singapore. So with all the big claims and high titles conferred upon them, many could be intimidated and take their claims at face value.

Interestingly, the setup here is operating under the famous Tong Ren Tang but according to the printed itinerary, this name was kept from the participants with just a casual name Health Care Shop. Over at the shop, the name was Little Bees Shop or something to that effect. We would never know the real from the fake so we would rather err on the side of caution than to regret after that. So the whole purpose of this stop was to sell expensive Chinese medicines with the help of these white coat physicians.

Back on the bus, Jackie didn’t really show any signs of disappointment. He continued to say good things about our driver how he kept the bus clean and had to refuel the bus while we were resting in our hotel at night and ensured we arrived from point to point safely and so on. He also commented that the driver was a very nice person but we would privately disagree. A tour member sitting in front witnessed the driver shouted at those poor girls working at toll booth and we also saw him being rude to hotel porters and shouting at them as well. Hence whatever the driver had to do, that would be part of his duty as a driver and moreover, there were compulsory tips to be given to him and Jackie at the end of the tour. We found such bragging about the driver, especially with the cigarette smell we had to endure from time to time rather annoying.

So Jackie now proposed a revised extra itinerary visiting places not too far from Shanghai City and of course including the mall selling copied goods at a reduced cost per participant. Some were tempted at the prospect of buying copied products but still some were not interested and preferred a more relax itinerary in Shanghai.

So Jackie’s second proposal didn’t get anywhere. Of course the driver was again interjecting and offering suggestion while driving us to our next destination. We were not sure about the cut Jackie would be getting but we felt he being young could be bullied by the driver and we also felt sorry for him. The fine the driver had to pay for his traffic offence had got nothing to do with us whatsoever and we also felt irritated by such tactics to compensate him for his carelessness. In fact during the journey, we also heard him telling Jackie he had previous brush with the law and had to use some other means to get his license back. Had the driver been good and responsible, we might feel compelled to help out on an innocent mistake while ferrying us around.

After being rejected the second time, Jackie became rather quiet. We soon arrived at our next destination to visit the world’s largest Disney Flagship Store in downtown Shanghai. It was 2.30 pm and Jackie gave us a time and the place to meet and so off we went. Jackie seemed upset and he went off on his own leaving us to explore the area on our own, which was great!

We went into the Disney Flagship Store to look around. It was pretty crowded. We have outgrown the need to shop for such stuffs and our children are already grown so in less than ten minutes, we were out to roam around this very nice area in Shanghai. It was quite cold this afternoon and the sky was a little cloudy. We walked along the circle overhead pedestrian bridge to admire the pretty buildings and to take pictures and selfies. There were quite a number of visitors up here enjoying the view of this beautiful city in Shanghai. The circle at the traffic junction below was very nicely landscaped with pretty flowers in purple, green and yellow, really beautiful and pleasing to the eyes.

Having gone full circle, we decided to head into the shopping mall connected to this overhead bridge because it was getting quite cold with wind blowing into our face. This was a modern high-end shopping mall. Probably all the branded stores could be found within this mall. The first stop was of course to visit the toilet to ease ourselves for a more comfortable shopping experience. There were plenty of restaurants and cafes as well as fast food restaurants in this multi level mall.

We were given about an hour of free time so it was time to head back to the Disney Store to wait for our tour bus. While waiting, we continued to admire the surrounding on the overhead bridge and took more pictures. Soon everyone was waiting at the designated location and Jackie returned and called for the driver to drive the bus over. In about five minutes, we were on our way again. This time, we were heading to the famous Nanjing Road Shopping Area. This location wasn’t far away and we reached Nanjing Road around 4 pm.

It was the same arrangement where everyone went our way and to meet again in about two hours’ time. Nanjing Road pedestrian shopping area was crowded as usual even during this winter afternoon. There were shops on both sides of the street with throngs of shoppers perhaps taking advantage of the post Christmas sales. We walked along taking pictures and went into some shops for a quick look.

After having gone quite far along the road, we decided to turn back. Being Accor members, we went into Sofitel Hotel along Nanjing Road to use the washrooms and see if we could get a quick bite before dinner. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed and we had to use the bar instead. So after resting a while in the hotel lobby, we went back out to the street to continue to explore shops in the vicinity. The service at Sofitel Hotel was very good and of high international standards. So we would very likely stay here when we come back to visit Shanghai on our own.

As we walked along the street, we entered another mall and found a restaurant we were familiar with. This restaurant is Saizeriya and we were delighted. So we went to this restaurant on the top floor and went in for a quick bite and to rest as well as to use their free wifi service. After a quick meal and a drink, we were back on the streets.

It was dark all over now in Nanjing Road. At times when my dear wife was browsing in the shops while I was taking pictures out on the street, women would approach and asked if I wanted a massage. Of course it was an affirmative no as you won’t know where you would end up and what would happen if you allowed them to bring you into side lanes and unknown shops.

Time flew while we were having free and easy time and soon we had to gather at the meeting point. It was already dark when we gathered and a little cold as well. Jackie appeared and led us across a few streets while talking on the phone to arrange with the driver to pick us up on the busy road in downtown Shanghai. It was a relief back on the bus with heater turned on. We were now heading to a posh restaurant to enjoy a seafood buffet dinner.

The roads were pretty congested during peak hours in downtown area. We were driving to Times Square to have our dinner at the famous Golden Jaguar Restaurant. We felt the driver was driving recklessly ever since we boarded the bus from the Disney Flagship Store. There were a few occasions where the driver braked abruptly. Perhaps our driver wasn’t too happy because the proposed additional places of interest were rejected.

When we arrived Times Square it was so congested that the bus got stuck in the traffic. Of course our dear driver was cursing and complaining. We finally were able to alight but the driver couldn’t find a place to park the bus. Jackie asked if he would like to have packed food but he declined. He would settle dinner on his own.

Jackie then led us across the traffic junction and asked around how to go up to the restaurant. We were led into a service lift to go up to the restaurant. One family had been here before and they knew the way so they found it strange. Anyway, we made it to the restaurant and everyone seemed pleased. It was already 6.40 pm and we were hungry and were glad to be at the restaurant.

It was free seating so everyone went to collect food. The buffet dinner spread was huge with plenty of seafood items with some live seafood as well. There were Western, Japanese and of course Chinese food at the restaurant. There were plenty of fresh fruits and pastries as well as Haagen Dazs ice cream.

So everyone went around happily filling up plates and plates of food. One member took many plates of salmon and we could see he was really enjoying himself. Jackie was sitting by himself enjoying his dinner. This might be his happy time this evening while he could be upset he had zero sales to show and having been rejected for his proposed additional itineraries. With everyone going rounds after rounds of food and desserts, eventually it was time to stop when saturation level started to kick in.

Finally, everyone was satisfied with this evening’s indulgence and it was time to leave the restaurant. This time we took the proper lift down to the ground level and not via the backdoor service lift. Outside Times Square was a hive of activities. This was a busy dynamic area with many people shopping and dinning in the vicinity.

At the traffic junction, we noticed a young lady singing to solicit donations for her father who was ill and required medical treatment. So we went up to donate some loose change after Jackie started to donate first. We then crossed the road while Jackie was on the phone to contact the driver to come over to pick us up. Soon the bus came and we were on our way to Falaide Hotel to stay for two nights.

It was already 9.15 pm when we arrived Falaide Hotel. We left the bus and waited at the hotel lobby for our room key while the porters were busy unloading bags to be sent to our rooms. This hotel looked very grand and clean too. Soon we got our key and we went to see what our room was like in Shanghai.

Upon entering our room, we were quite delighted to find our room in tip top condition. The king bed was clean and comfortable. The room deco was modern with a huge TV mounted nicely on the wall in front of the bed. A writing desk with a comfy chair were a few steps away near the windows draped with nice curtains in complementing colour. Surprisingly, there was no bathtub in this local 5-star hotel, only a shower stall was in the bathroom. Wifi worked and TV channels as expected were mostly Chinese programs.

So it was time to shower and get ourselves comfortable. Catching up with the children back home was necessary. Next was watching TV to while away the night and relax on bed in our comfortable room. Lying down was so good after a long day.

We had quite a long day coming from Jiaxing. Visiting Mr. Iron Robot Theme Park was fun and an eye-opener. The lunch and dinner at posh restaurants were great. Having free time to roam and explore downtown area at the Disney Flagship Store and Nanjing Road was very good. The shopping trip to the Health Care Shop was a waste of time. It was a guilt-trip to try to empty our pockets for some TCM medicine we may never have the means to verify its efficacy and mitigate possible side effects.

Jackie’s proposal for additional places to visit in Shanghai at a cost to help the driver was annoying. So this day wasn’t too bad and in fact quite enjoyable exploring Shanghai City on our own. The next day in Shanghai should be a great day without having to spend too much time on the road travelling to another city. So we retired in anticipation for another great day in Shanghai.

Continue to Day 7

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