On a very hot sunny Sunday afternoon we decided to do some site-seeing in downtown Shanghai. After a very local lunch (chicken head on our chicken dish!) we started our Big Red Bus Tour outside Madame Tussauds. We were doing the red route which took us along the Bund (means embankment). This area is 1 mile of spectacular buildings along the waterfront. It is famous for magnificent 19th and 20th century architecture on one side with state of the art sky-scrapers on the other modern Financial District side. There is even a mini Big Ben – a throw back to the old British influence!
Moving on from there, next stop was Xintiandi (“New Heaven and Earth”). It is a traffic free area of restored Shikumen (“Stone Gate Houses”) houses on narrow alleys, some adjoining houses, which now serve as book stores, cafes and restaurants, and shopping malls. Shikumen are 2-3 storey town houses surrounded by a high walled courtyard, built in the late 1800’s, they blended East with West. As Shanghai’s population exploded many of them were cleared for new modern developments. Xintiandi has been restored to its former glory and is a great place to eat out, stop for a drink or shop. On the edge of Xintiandi is the building that hosted the first congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921 and is now a museum.
We drove by, but did not stop at, Yu Gardens. Owen and I had both visited here during our look/see visit in December. It is a 5 acre spread of a wonderful example of a traditional Chinese garden. It was established more than 400 years ago by Pan Yunduan who spent 20 years building the gardens to please his parents. Surrounding the gardens is the Yu Bazaar. Here, Owen and I were hassled to buy many Chinese souvenirs in December!!
The red route took us past Nanjing Road East which is one of the busiest shopping streets in China. The street runs from the Bund to People’s Square, which is where it turns into Nanjing Road West. I work in a big building on Nanjing Road West, just off People’s Square. You could be anywhere in the world walking down Nanjing Road, as the shops are just as familiar to any in London, New York or Atlanta.
I can thoroughly recommend the Big Red Bus Tour, but not on a hot, humid sunny day. We will be back in the Autumn to do the green route.