So I took a rather spontaneous trip to China a couple months ago (for Chinese New Year). And I’m so happy my mom convinced me to go. I have a love/hate relationship with China. It’s great being able to see extended family and eat amazing super-cheap food, but I swear, no matter how careful I am, I always wind up with food poisoning by the 3rd or 4thday (at least in the past). And the last time I went during the winter, it was freezing!! Probably not actually freezing, but hey, I’m from California…I really don’t do well in cold. And the crowds….oh the crowds. Even old people in China can shove like no other. And around Chinese New Year, I definitely anticipated even more crowds than usual. But it had been 5+ years since I last visited, and I wanted to see what it was like to celebrate the new year there. So I applied for my visa, and boarded my flight to Shanghai on Jan. 19!
Shanghai has changed a lot in 5 years! Definitely more high-rises… more people…and more shopping malls. Chinese New Year was still 5 days away, so we spent the first couple of days exploring Shanghai. On our first day there, we were greeted with clear blue skies. Like completely blue. I’ve never seen blue skies in Shanghai…ever! There’s usually a grey, hazy layer of pollution that floats above the city. But on this particular day, the weather was perfect! We strolled around the waterfront and wandered around a couple of malls. There are so many malls in Shanghai, omg. And they’re all huge 8 or 9-floor buildings. I don’t even know how they have so many brands. Anyway, the architecture scattered around the city is quite impressive. There are some really nice areas to walk around. And everything is easily accessible by subway. Just be prepared to push and shove your way onto the train.
But yeah, besides eating, shopping, and walking around, there’s not a whole lot to do in the city. We took a day trip on our 2nd day to visit some of the old water towns on the outskirts of Shanghai (~1 hour away from the city). I highly recommend visiting if you get the chance! It’s a nice break from the modern hustle and bustle of the city. They call these water towns the “Venice of China.”
Anyway, after walking around all morning, I was so ready for lunch. And of course, first meal was no surprise. Gotta find dem soup dumplings, yo. My aunt recommended a place called Nanxiang Dumpling. The line there was quite long and finding a table was struggle, but it was so worth. Definitely some of the best soup dumplings I’ve ever had. Puts Din Tai Fung to shame. Well, alright, they’re comparable I guess, but Nanxiang Dumpling is like a third of the price. Way better value. Their crab dumplings were my favorite!
All in all, a pretty good first day in Shanghai! We didn’t do that much the rest of the day…just wandered around the various shopping plazas in the area (and there are SO many, omg). Oh, and no food poisoning!! 🙂 Stay tuned for day 2!