It was so bright and clear in the morning that it was impossible to lie in. In fact, there should’ve been no lying-in at all because Linda and I needed to have been at the station about an hour ahead of the departure of the train.
Fortunately, when we got to the station, some nice person let Linda push in at the front of the queue, and we got to the gate as the train was being boarded. There were stops in Suzhou and Kunshan, and about an hour later, we arrived in Shanghai.
It was quite easy to get to Sichuan Beilu Station via Hailun Lu, although we had to get the Line 4 train that was going in the right direction before switching to Line 10. (Line 4 is Shanghai’s equivalent of the Circle Line.) When we got out of Sichuan Beilu, we got in a taxi, but the driver explained that because Zhapu Lu was behind us and the hotel was not that far away, there was no need for him to ferry us there.
We walked down the street to Zhapu Lu, went across the first main intersection, and arrived at the Hanting Hotel soon afterwards. There was a wedding in progress, and shiny confetti was being blown along the street. Our room had a view of the building next door, which was separated from the hotel by a narrow alley.
Zhapu Lu is a lively, old and somewhat dirty street with plenty of relics from the time the city was mostly run by foreigners. On the opposite corner from the hotel was the Young Allen building, which was built in 1923, and there was a Hindu temple at the northern end of the street. (A lot of the buildings in Shanghai have plaques on them, explaining what they used to be.) The south end of Zhapu Lu was dominated by restaurants (and the street is marked in the Lonely Planet guide as a food street). There was a very popular Hong Kong-style place which did pre-cooked meat outside of which there was almost always a (long) queue. (Even yesterday morning [06.10.13] as we passed it, there was a small group of people waiting for it to open.) We went to one particular restaurant several times, although I’ve forgotten its name.
Our search for the Bund took us on a wild goose chase because when we got to the Russian embassy, it appeared that we should’ve gone straight ahead. In fact, it was to the right across the bridge beside the embassy, and we walked some way before eventually asking a security guard at the entrance to a passenger terminal for directions. I suppose we ought to have followed the hordes across the bridge; or the city council could’ve erected a sign. (I note that the signs for tourists are unrelentingly in Chinese, which is a minor bother for me, but doesn’t help foreigners find their way about.) We got back to the embassy just as the guard was being changed.
The weather was a real nuisance. It was very clear in Shanghai, but windy and cloudy at the same time. When the sun was hidden by the clouds, the temperature dropped; when the sun blazed down, the temperature shot up. Half the time, I wished I had been wearing something a little more substantial, and half the time, I was fine.
We crossed the bridge where we, and everyone else, took photos of the buildings on the far side of the Huangpu. We then made our way along the Bund until the sun drove us to seek some shade closer to Zhongshan Lu. At Nanjing Donglu, we saw huge numbers of shoppers flowing (literally) along the street in both directions. The ones from the street streamed across, and up the steps onto the Bund. The sensible thing would have been to close the street to cars, but sense will forever remain in short supply here. After going a little further, we went back and joined the masses on Nanjing Donglu, turning aside when we reached Sichuan Beilu and making our way back to the hotel.
We had a much-needed snooze in the afternoon because we’d done a lot of walking not only in Shanghai, but also in Wuxi the previous day when we’d been on a long walk through the park and over to the island, which provided us with some brilliant shots as the sun set.
We roamed around for tea, eventually finding a branch of KFC where the service was less than competent. In addition to that, Linda burnt her mouth on the soup she ordered. We then went back to our favourite Chinese restaurant down Zhapu Lu where we had soup dumplings while the local bore banged on at a couple of people sitting at the table beside ours. I’m sure he would’ve started on us, but we left.