Bright lights, big city
NEON JUNGLE: No time to apply for a visa? You can travel for up to three days without one in Shanghai. shares her tips for a whirlwind stopover.
T’S 8am on a Friday in Jing’An – the central district of Shanghai, packed with gleaming hotels and shopping malls – and already the pace on the streets is frenetic. I’m trying to cross a busy main road but even super-sized traffic lights, a green man and a zebra crossing hold no sway against drivers who seem to see pedestrians as an annoyance best ignored.
I make it across unscathed (just) and head for the Jing’An Park, a leafy haven where pensioners are huddled around Mahjong boards and a bunch of f teenagers are attempting to get a drone camera into the air.
It’s 20 years since I’ve been to China – I lived in the southern city of Guangzhou for a year when I was 10 – and boy things have changed. In those days, my blond siblings and I were world’s largest city (currently home to 24 million) has grown significantly since short-term visa restrictions were relaxed in 2013. You can now stay in China for up to 72 hours without a visa, making it more att attractive to travellers already in So South East Asia or on route to Australia. AuS So how do you maximise a three-day stay in this metropolis? thW While I could happily gawp at the vie view from my 17th floor room at th the Puli Hotel all day, I’m keen to ex explore old-school Shanghai. So af after my stroll I make a beeline fo for Tian Zi Fang, where the na narrow criss-crossing streets ar are lined with low rise “Lane” ho houses, built in the 1930s.
T The area now has a market feel, w with former residential homes mostly transformed into shops se selling silk clothing, loose leaf te tea, cartoonish trinkets and ot other tourist-friendly goods. gawped at like we were aliens wherever we went, but in modern day Shanghai, Westerners (or “guilos” in Mandarin) are 10 a penny.
The number of foreignersg visiting g the
I haven’t retained much Mandarin in two decades (and bartering is made all the more difficult because the Chinese have a system of hand symbols for numbers that’s more complicated than our one to 10 fingers) but with the help of my iPhone
With the help of my iPhone calculator, I manage to haggle
down the price.
calculator, I manage to haggle down the price of some silver jewellery and a traditional silk Cheongsam dress.
Ready for a breather, I make my way over to the picturesque Yu Garden to watch koi carp and turtles paddling in jade green ponds, as I walk across the Zigzag Bridge to reach Huxinting Teahouse and a refreshing