Scenes from Shanghai


On my second day in China (staying in the Fairmont Peace Hotel), we took a quick tour of Shanghai before heading to the airport to fly to Lijiang and begin touring the Yunnan province.  Shanghai was INSTANT LOVE for me. Something about it was so much like the energy I feel in New York.  My number one tip for any city so foreign is to hire a guide (I was on an Abercrombie & Kent itinerary with one of their best guides) but I always make sure to spend some alone time on the streets.  

The Bund curves around Shanghai's river, and has been the cultural heart and best place to live in the city for decades.  I had no idea the architecture on the Bund was so worldly and international, dating back to when ex-pats lived and spent their money in the city.  

The beautiful Bund in ShanghaiThe HSBC Building now houses the Shanghai Pudong Development BankIn 2010, Shanghai commissioned the original artist of the famous Wall Street bull to replicate a bull for the Bund.  As the Financial Times stated, "Call it the sincerest form of rivalry. Shanghai plans to equal New York as a global financial centre by 2020, so it needs its own bull." The artist, Arturo DiModico, said that the Shanghai Bull weighs exactly the same as the New York Bull (though there are minor differences).

We also toured Old Shanghai, a very tourist-y but still architecturally cool area, with tea & chopsticks shops, and a very popular place with an hour-long line, Nanxiang, for soup dumplings.  I recently tried the famous soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai in New York and it was a travel "duh" moment that connected all the dots. "It's called Joe's Shanghai in New York...The Shanghainese inhale soup dumplings...oh soup dumplings come from Shanghai, not Chinatown!"

The Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse has served Queen Elizabeth II and Bill Clinton and holds court in the center of this historic area, reached by a winding bridge with nine turns.

 The Mid-Lake Pavilion TeahouseContrast Between Old & New Shanghai

Trying the Famous Soup Dumplings at Joe's Shanghai

On the same visit that I took my dad to see Columbia, we also decided to head to Chinatown for one of our dinners.  Joe's Shanghai is famous for their "soup dumplings" and I have been hearing about them for years. The original Joe's Shanghai is in Flushing, Queens.  I actually thought their famous dish was dumplings in soup...but I was clearly way off.  

This is an order of soup dumplings.  They're 8 to an order and it costs just $4.95.

You take the soup dumpling and place it on the white spoon they give you.  Then you can drizzle soy sauce on it, WAIT UNTIL IT COOLS OFF A BIT, and then bite in.  Careful when you pick them up so you don't pierce the dumpling and let all the soup come out. 

Warning: Joe's Shanghai in Chinatown is Cash Only and they will seat you with others at the big round tables if your party isn't big enough.  There were four of us and we had two different singles at our table for six.  One of the women spoke Chinese, lived in San Francisco and travels the world 3-4 months out of every year.  She was really fun to talk to. 

I also loved the big plate of orange slices they serve with your check.  Nice touch.