“Not all those who wander are lost.” -J. R. R. Tolkien
The above travel quote may be the most stereotypical one ever, but this accurately described my situation in Shanghai.
So the day after my ordeal with my flight and finding my airbnb, I decided to take it easy. I wandered out of my airbnb at around 9am and went to this temple called City God Temple of Shanghai (上海城隍庙):
It was pretty accessible, I mean I didn’t know the area at all and I got there within 20 minutes. My first impression of this place upon arriving was that it was nothing like I thought it was going to be. The temple was converted into a little shopping centre, with little shops inside the ancient structure. It was kind of fascinating to see such a mix of new and old. I would definitely recommend the experience to anyone who goes to Shanghai, you get to see the ancient architecture but at the same time, enjoy a cup of Starbucks.
There was this little food court right beside the entrance to the temple, and so I went in to buy some food. This place was massive, like 3 or 4 floors just full of restaurants and fast food places. I had so much to eat- I forgot to take pictures of my food and when I remembered, more than half of it was gone :(. But the tofu nao (dofu nao) was delicious as well as the fried stinky tofu. The stinky tofu may be off-putting, but it is delicious, so I suggest that you try it at least once. Another item was the candied lotus root, it was lotus root (well duh it was) stuffed with sticky rice and sugar. The next think that I recommend you try is the xiao long bao, it’s like a dumpling but its round and filled with soup. It is SO good, but you have to be careful because the soup inside is SUPER hot.
Anyways, after I pigged out at this food court, I wandered around the little streets inside the temple. People were selling everything- from snacks, to Shanghai yogurt, to selfie sticks to tea. If you wanted something, you could probably get it at the place. It actually wasn’t that crowded either, since it was raining slightly when I visited (like I said in a previous post, a blessing in disguise).
A little tidbit, in this temple, there’s a little garden called the Yu Garden. You need to buy a ticket to get in but I think it’s totally worth it. Once you enter, the place is quiet and serene. Nothing like the outside. You can wander along the little stone paths and look at little fish ponds- it makes for a perfect Instagram photo op. The garden was originally built in the Ming Dynasty in 1559 by Pan Yunduan for his father, minister Pan En. The garden was actually so expensive that it bankrupted the Pan’s and ruined them. It was then passed on later, and it suffered great damage during the 19th/20th centuries. In 1956, the Shanghai government started efforts to repair the garden and it was opened to the public in 1961.
I mean, just looking at the garden I can see why the Pan’s were ruined. It is so extravagant- the fixtures, buildings and the scenery is all immaculately done. Everything is linked by little corridors to protect people when it’s raining outside- these people were genius’s to think of this- and so you didn’t need an umbrella. As I walked through the garden, I encountered multiple ponds, houses, rooms and pavilions, all gorgeously built and maintained.
After my stroll through the temple, I walked to the Bund:
Since it was rainy that day, there wasn’t much of a view, but I was still able to see the major buildlings- the Oriental Pearl Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Tower, etc…. I was also able to stroll down Nanjing Road- a kind of Champs Èysèes made up of department stores and malls. There were famous brands (ie. Cartier, Gucci, Rolex, etc..) next to Chinese department stores. It was an interesting site and I definitely recommend walking down it. Many Chinese department stores let you haggle prices, so you can get things for cheap.
To end my day, I went to this dumpling house called Yangs Dumplings, a kind of fast food place that was very popular in Shanghai. I ordered the specialty, 4 soup dumplings, and it was super cheap! For the 4, I think it was only ¥8 (not even $2 CAD!). In addition to that, I also had the soup with fensi noodles, a clear noodle made from starch and water. It was delicious and I was thoroughly satisfied with my meal.
This post may have been super long and kind of boring, but there were just so many fun things that I just had to tell you guys. Just wandering around aimlessly in Shanghai is the best way to see all the sites- you’re not exhausted from running around but you still get to see everything you want to see. It’s definitely worth the visit and if you ever have the chance, I’d recommend it!
All the best