Decently satisfied with covering most of the sightseeing worthy places in Beijing, it was time to travel to Shanghai. I was particularly excited for Shanghai since I had no itinerary as such and it was going to be all impromptu. Also, I was eager for my first bullet train experience, and it did not let me down. Close to 1200kms in 4hr 48mins! Shanghai has the largest metro network in the world and this helped me reach my hotel easily. The thing about Shanghai is that every part of the city seems like the central area. Even though my hotel was a bit off the centre, I could venture out at late night, just to get a feel.
Since I had 3 full days in Shanghai, I did not hurry to see the places I had in mind and instead took time to get the feel of the city. I took the metro to the Xintiandi area. It is also known as the old French concession and it is everything European. Right from the pavements, to the trees, to the restaurants and the people, you'd be forgiven to think that you're in Europe. Quite a few vegetarian and vegan options in this area. Shanghai has official fake markets and one such was the Han City mall. It is a 4 storey mall with several shops, all selling fake and lucrative items. Bargaining can go up to the extent of 70-80%. In an hour, I was done with most of my shopping agenda. Post this, it was time to visit The Bund. It is what defines Shanghai. Although rainy and windy, the view there was something else. Being a vegetarian, the subway outlets were a saviour for me more than once.
It was time to check out of the hotel and move to a hostel. Since it would be my first hostel stay I had planned only 2 nights. Reaching there, I realized it should've been more. Easily the highlight of my trip. I stayed at the Blue Mountain Bund Youth Hostel, the best in Shanghai as per hostel world. After checking in, I moved to the other side of the city across the Huangpu river to get a closer view of the Oriental Pearl TV tower and the other surrounding mighty structures. This area was fancy beyond words. There is also a Super Brand mall which is apt for the location. The only disappointing thing about Shanghai while I was there was the weather. It was rainy and windy. The fog prevented me from going to the observation desk of one of these tall towers (probably a reason to visit again). Staying in a youth hostel gives you an amazing opportunity to talk to other travelers and listen to their stories. Being my first solo trip, it was very exciting to hear about stories from other travelers and make a few friends. The hostel was only a 10 mins walk from The Bund view so I headed there again.
I never got tired of The Bund. Went for a long morning walk on the promenade at The Bund. Near the end was the Yuyuan garden, a marvel of ancient Chinese architecture. A talk with fellow travellers the previous night made me realize that I should see a few places relating to the Chinese culture. Even though Shanghai reflects the modern commercialized China, there are certain parts of the city which speak of Chinese culture. I headed for Qibao, an old water town, well connected with the extensive metro. The irony is that as soon as I got out of the station, there was this huge mall. Probably the ancient Shanghai is losing face. Nevertheless, Qibao was a beauty. Bridges to go on the other side with water flowing below and cafés on either side provided some pleasant viewing. I walked around a bit to soak in the atmosphere. Back from Qibao to the other extreme, the Nanjing road street. Huge malls with luxury brands and buzzing cafés all around, reminiscent of Manhattan. I paused a bit of get some hot chocolate and also catch a breath (tough to get in Shanghai). Before heading out late at night again for one last time in Shanghai, I chilled a bit in the hostel (you could spend hours at the hostel doing nothing).