Day 7 – Shanghai

This was the best morning where we didn’t have to wake very early to head for breakfast and then rush out for tours. Our itinerary in Shanghai was so thin and having rejected the proposal brought up by Jackie and the driver the previous day with exorbitant cost, we could take our time to rest more in the hotel.

When we finally felt like it was time to replenish our stomach, we went to the restaurant for breakfast. It was already 7.45 am and the restaurant wasn’t crowded. The restaurant was spacious but a little run down. The buffet spread was just passable for this local 5-star hotel. How we missed the breakfast in Jiaxing the day before at Sunshine Hotel! We didn’t take long to get out of the restaurant after the quick breakfast.

Back in our room, when we pulled away the curtains, it was an astonishing sight. It was definitely not a view to die for. The surrounding of the hotel looked like a war zone with plots of lands under reconstruction and high rise apartments much further away. There were some houses and a big factory or warehouse facility nearby. It seemed like we were at the edge of the city in Shanghai. Had we booked our own hotel, we would never consider this location.

So with plenty of time, we chilled out in our room watching TV. It was good to chat with the children back home and surf the Internet as well. Finally, it was time to gather at the lobby to go for lunch. At the lobby, we mingled with the rest of the tour members. A few had apparently gone out to a shopping mall not very far away using the subway. It was a little walk to the metro station though. When everyone had gathered, Jackie led us out to board the bus.

We were heading to a restaurant to enjoy Cantonese cuisines this morning. On the way, Jackie broke a piece of good news to us. He told us the driver had kindly agreed to bring us to a place for shopping after lunch for free. So Jackie hoped we would tip the driver at the end of the tour.

This news sounded great but it was more like an after thought to seek our good will having been rejected over the expensive additional itinerary proposed the day before. At least he might get something in return for being not calculative. During our previous trips, the tour guide and driver usually threw in some additional stops at malls to fill up the time without going into a begging operation for extra cost. Well, this was better than nothing and of course some tour members were jubilant and looked forward with expectation for some shopping, one of the favourite pastimes of Singaporeans.

We arrived at the restaurant before noon. This place also looked like another usual restaurant tour groups frequent. This was our last lunch in Shanghai under the packaged tour. The food quality was pretty good however, the quantity was on the low side. Anyway, the lunch was good and we left the restaurant at 12.45 pm.

So we look forward to the free shopping destination as we made our way through the busy roads in Shanghai. On the way, Jackie provided some information about the place and reminded us not to bargain with the vendors if we had no intention to purchase any item. Nevertheless, we would have to bargain otherwise we would be paying too much for the same item we could get elsewhere. We arrived at a very nicely landscaped location where road traffic was rather light.

Having alighted, Jackie led us into the underground mall and made very clear where we should meet because the place was very huge and he didn’t want us to be lost in this large mall. After the briefing, Jackie left and we went our way to begin our shopping activity. This place was actually the Asia Pacific Fashion and Gift Market co-located with Shanghai Science and Technology Museum Metro Station Shopping Centre. The underground complex consist of shops selling all and sundry and there are a few cafes and eateries as well.

We started our rounds walking through the complex looking at shops selling bags and clothes and such but we didn’t buy anything. We came to the middle section where the subway entrance separates the complex into two parts. Having completed surveying this side of the complex, we crossed over to take a look at the shops on the other side. This side didn’t smell as good as the previous location. There were cigarette smell at certain area so we quickened our pace and made a quick round through the different lanes and had a quick glance at the shops on both sides. We only managed to buy a small pouch after bargaining with the vendor. The price was jacked up several times from another shop where we saw the same item over the other section of the complex.

Very quickly, our shopping was done. Jackie gave us the impression that this place was super huge and we might get lost in the maze of this underground mall. Apparently, he had severely underestimated our capability. There wasn’t much we were interested in buying and we were real glad we didn’t have to pay through our nose to come to such a place for a shopping experience. Should we visit Shanghai in the future on our own, we wouldn’t come back to this place for another visit.

We covered the entire complex in half an hour and we were bored. So we exited the mall and ventured outdoor to explore. The outdoor environment was so much more pleasant. The landscape was very nice and so was the weather on this winter afternoon. We roamed around the park like vicinity and enjoyed the fresh air outdoor. This was a much better place for us to hang out than the underground mall indoor. We were given quite a lot of time here so we took our time to enjoy the view of this part of Shanghai City.

At 3 pm, we gathered at the prearranged location and chatted among ourselves. Some members bought some stuff and were quite happy with this additional shopping itinerary but Jackie and the driver won’t enjoy any commission from our shopping expenses. With everyone back on the bus and by now rather used to some left over cigarette smell courtesy from our driver, we made our way to the next destination, the Cheng Huang Temple shopping complex.

We arrived at the carpark near Cheng Huang Temple around 3.30 pm. Jackie led us to the inner section of this very touristy and crowded place. We were once again given a time for free activity and we took note of the meeting place in order not to wait at the wrong place because this place was really very crowded. So off we went on our own again to enjoy this tourist site.

There were mobile police presence and security was quite tight. We had been to this place several times and we didn’t wish to hang around inside the complex where there was nothing we intended to purchase. So we made our way outside Cheng Huang Temple to explore and to look for a place to rest and have a quick bite before dinner.

Though we had still had sunlight, it was getting cold as well. As we walked along, we decided to enter McDonalds to hang out. It was a very popular fast food café and so it was rather crowded inside, especially with the younger crowd. We ordered our meals and then found an empty table to settle down. We took our time and enjoyed our meal indoor to escape the cold outside.

When it was getting near to the time where we were supposed to gather, we headed back into Cheng Huang Temple to hang out and take some pictures. There were long queues of people at popular eateries, especially at the famous xiao long bao restaurant. Cheng Huang Temple is a popular shopping destination for locals and tourists alike. This is always a happy place to be with endless crowd of visitors throughout the day.

Soon several tour members had gathered and we started chatting. One of them bought a fake Samsung S6 phone from one of the shops here. The starting price was well over 2000 CNY but he managed to bargain down to around 1500  CNY for the phone. So he was playing with his new phone and Jackie also came over to help him check on his phone. Jackie compared the camera of this fake Samsung S6 with his personal iphone and there was an obvious difference in quality. The pin to remove the cover to insert the sim card was not provided and the usb charging cable was of substandard quality. Anyway, this member’s current phone was using a sim card of a different size where the S6 required a nano sim card, so there was no way he could check the quality of the phone. While the fake phone might be low in cost, it is not worth getting a phone of such questionable quality.

When everyone had gathered, Jackie led us out of Cheng Huang Temple and walked back to the carpark to board the bus. So we went for dinner at a restaurant near the Bund because we would be taking a river cruise after dinner. We were given a private room with two tables for our group. The restaurant was fine and the food palatable but not the best meal even though this was our last dinner for our packaged tour. During dinner, Jackie came over to collect the tips and porter fee for our tour. When everything had been settled, we left the restaurant and boarded the bus again. It was already dark in Shanghai, the right time to go for the river cruise.

The journey didn’t take long and soon we alighted and walked into the ferry terminal. Shanghai was very dark now and all the buildings were nicely lit up. We followed Jackie into the terminal building and waited at a corner while Jackie went to purchase the tickets. He then came back to distribute the tickets and we queued to enter the ferry terminal to board the ferry. There were some attempts by the locals to cut queue which was a little annoying.

Once we went through the gate and headed out of the building, we walked to our cruise boat and boarded the boat and looked for some comfortable seats to settle down to enjoy the cruise. Those who wished to enjoy the unblocked view and admire the night scenery could go upstairs to the outdoor area. However, it would be cold but still there were many passengers ventured outside.

The boat left the terminal and cruised down the Bund. The view of the lit up skylines was really spectacular and beautiful. This cruise was much better than the Danube River cruise at Budapest we had a few years back. There were barges traversing along the Bund as well and these dark barges looked mysterious in the night.

We went outdoor to admire the night view of this famous Shanghai Bund and held on as long as we could as we fought the cold winds blowing into our face. The gorgeous night view of this experience was worth a little suffering of cold chill on this winter evening. Our previous trips to Shanghai weren’t blessed with such good weather. It was either super freezing cold or the city choked full of smog and fog where we could hardly see those nicely lit buildings across the river.

The cruise boat having travelled down river then turned back. It was the same beautiful night scene all over again. We soaked in every moment of this fabulous time snapping away taking many pictures to capture this moment in time. Soon, after an hour on the river, we were back on shore at the terminal building. We walked slowly out of the terminal premise and took more pictures of the river.

Having gathered along the road, our bus came and we boarded the bus to head back to the hotel. We settled down happily in the comfort of heated environment in the bus as we made our way back to the hotel. Finally, we arrived Falaide Hotel before 9 pm. There was nothing around the hotel so we went back to our room to rest for the night.

After shower, it was time to chill in our room to watch TV and chat with the children back home showing them the beautiful pictures of the river cruise we had earlier. As we would be departing Shanghai the next day, we did our packing so that we won’t have to rush the next day. We didn’t buy a lot of stuff so packing was relatively easy.

It was quite a good day on this last day of our tour. We didn’t attend any official shopping stop required under the package tour which was a little surprising. Jackie had apparently left it for the next day before our flight out of Shanghai.

The free shopping stop at the Asia Pacific Market was an underwhelming experience but we did enjoy the surrounding outdoor area while waiting for the other members who were keen to make purchase for some bags and stuff. We were not alone outdoor though. Quite a few members were also seen outdoor as the so called very huge underground shopping complex couldn’t keep us occupy for very long.

Visiting Cheng Huang Temple shopping area was nice but touristy. Having visited several times we didn’t find the place so awe struck any more though the place was really nice and pretty. The night cruise on the Bund was really the highlight for the day. It was definitely one of the most enjoyable experiences during the whole trip visiting several cities south of Yangtze River.

We didn’t have to get up very early again the next day so we watched a little more TV until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer. So we slipped into slumber heralding the conclusion of this Jiangnan Tour, which was quite a good tour that we really enjoyed shopping and dining and visiting these few cities in the region. The next day would be a homeward bound trip where we would look forward to meeting the children again.

Continue to Day 8

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