I was lucky to join my boss on his business trip to China early this month. Honestly, China is on the bottom of my travel list. Surprised, huh? Yet, as a worldtrekker, when the travel chance comes to me, I definitely do not say NO :). So then, I packed my stuffs and ready myself to visit China: Shanghai and Beijing
Getting visa to China (mainland) is not difficult for Vietnamese passport holders. You need to download the visa application form, bring along 2 passport-sized photos and 60USD for visa fee. Check on their website to know how much you will pay for visa fee in advance. They do not accept Vietnamese Dong (VND), but USD in cash. The visa process takes around 4 business days (regular time, no surcharge for express visa process). Note: Have you traveled to China? If you have to Hongkong, please say YES. Last time, I totally forgot about that detail. Well, it seemed it was not a big deal to them. I still got my visa for 30 day trip. FYI, my boss thinks, “although i think they can consider Mainland China and Hong Kong to be separate. most of the time (if not always), they have separate visas“
Searching for a cheap flight from SGN (Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam) to Shanghai (China) was not an easy task at all. I got headache. So many options. Way expensive. I strongly recommend that when you have an idea or plan to travel by air, please do book flight tickets in advance, as soon as possible. Last-minute tickets, yes sometimes are cheap, are expensive. At the end, my boss used his reward points, or something like that, and we both got tickets at the same flights, time and date.
Immigrations in Viet Nam and China are the same. I have a question and so far I have not found any reasonable answer. Most of immigration officers keep asking me many questions – more than those if you compared to other travelers. The lastest officer in Viet Nam asked me out loud in Vietnamese what year I was born in and why I looked way younger than the photo on my passport and my age. The officer in Shanghai, China asked me similar questions as I had in Singapore: what is your travel purpose? Whom are you traveling with? How long will you stay here? Where do you want to visit? Where are you staying here? Do you have any friends here? etc. Oh boy, I get used to being asked such things… Sometimes I still get annoyed.
First city of China – Shanghai
Accommodation: Shanghai Soho International Youth Hostel
Range: hostel – dorm, private rooms
Direction: From Shanghai Pudong International Airport – Take Metro Line 2 (terminal 2, upstairs, after a very long walking) to People’s Square Station (cost 7yuan/pax). Then transfer to Metro Line 1 at Guanglan Road station to Xinzha Rd station. Exit from Exit 1 walk along the South Suzhou Road for 5 minutes to the hostel. Actually, when you walked out from the exit station, you will turn left, get across the street, walk along the small river/channel. Note: all is on the left side – same for the hostel. Prepare small change for train tickets as well.
2 nights and 2 days in Shanghai did not let me see all the city. I wanted to the new and old part of Shanghai. I did – small part. We walked around a bit. We picked a random local Chinese restaurant for our brunchinner; which turned out quite good. The weather was cold for me firstly. Later on, I get used to and kinda like it. A lot of old British-style buildings by Huangphu river but on the other side, many modern buildings as you can see in other cities like Hongkong, Singapore, etc. I really enjoy walking along the river to see how fast Shanghai has been growing up. I did not make it to the French Quarter nor see very old Shanghai quarter. Next time, I will spend more time there.
My boss also helped to solve a short-visit problem by taking a sightseeing bus. We did a 24-hr bus tour, stopping at one destination for 30 minutes. There are 3 lines: green, red and blue one which can bring you to some city’s highlight places. We got to see some Chinese and Burmese pagodas (one of them is Jinshan Donglin temple), the Oriental Pearl Tower, The Bund tunnel, Yu Yuan Garden (at night it is pretty cool to walk without light lol and it is next to the “Night Chinese market/area”, a cool place to try local food and shopping souvenir.) and so on.
Many shopping malls, stores, supermarket in Shanghai. Chinese signs are everywhere. Same for bicycles. Everywhere! It would be cool to bike around with cars, but not motorbikes haha – completely different from that in Viet Nam.
People living in some apartments, I think, which are very old. Spaces/rooms seem precious there. I saw so many people hanging their clothes to dry out from the window and obviously above people’s head. They can hang everything: short, tee, etc. even bra and panties right in front of the alley. So funny.
First two days in Shanghai brought me a good time. I enjoyed it and loved to spend some more time.
It is kinda fun to make my own record in my life. It would be useless or silly to you, readers, but to me, they are cool 🙂
– 1st time doing hop-on-and-off bus – Big Bus Tour on a red 2-deck bus. All info about this tour you can find here. We got a cheaper deal when we walked and talked to their staff, who stand in front of Shanghai Art Museum, close to People Square.
– 1st time walking around the 88th floor of Jinmao Tower. FYI: last time, I got a cocktail with my friend on the 84th floor of Baiyoke Tower II, Bangkok, Thailand. Pretty cool if it was less smoggy. They will give you a pearl when you purchase the entrance ticket but it does not go with a string 😛 I do not know whether it is a real or fake one so far.
The Jin Mao Tower is one of Shanghai’s iconic skyscrapers, featuring a unique design. Located in the Financial District of Pudong, the building houses offices and the Shanghai Grand Hyatt hotel.
Its design reflects the traditional Chinese Pagoda, with increasing complexity as it ascends. Each of its 16 sections is 1/8 shorter than the section below. In China ‘8’ is considered a lucky number. The Jin Mao therefore has 88 floors.
1st time seeing by my eyes the Oriental Pearl Television Tower – it is a pretty cool pink globe haha
The Oriental Pearl Tower is perhaps Shanghai’s most distinctive building, rising 468 metres above the Huangpu River. It was completed in 1994 becoming China’s tallest building, until 2007 when the title was taken by its close neighbour, the Shanghai World Financial Centre.
The Tower is widely known to be a television antenna, but only the top 118 metres are used for broadcasting. The rest of the Tower consists of observation decks, a restaurant and a hotel. The observation decks provide fantastic views over Shanghai.
– 1st time driving through one of the largest bridges in the world – Nanpu Bridge. It was so cool to have an overview of Shanghai: old and new one with a lot of construction sites.
The Nanpu Bridge is one of the largest bridges in the world and spans the Huangpu river, connecting the Puxi and Pudong districts. To accommodate the large ships that travel up and down the Huangpu River, the bridge’s central span is 423 metres wide and 46 meters high. This height makes the journey over the bridge on the Big Bus open-top tour a genuinely thrilling experience.
With 10 lanes and 150 metre towers the Nanpu bridge is an impressive structure. However, it is probably most famous for the spiral approach on the Puxi side of the river, where over 1 km of 10 lane highway winds up into the sky.
Nanpu Bridge: at day time
Nanpu Bridge: at night-time
– 1st time visiting/wandering in Apple Store, Pudong, Shanghai – Kinda cool place. Yet, it looks like my company’s offices where there are bunches of iDevices 😛 and all are free. I did not succeed to buy a real speak though
Apple Store, Pudong, Shanghai, China – outside
Apple Store, Pudong, Shanghai, China – inside
– 1st time eating xiaolong bao (小笼馒头) and tang bao (汤包) – well to me, they looked like dumpling much more than a bao. They are very yummy. We got some at at very popular restaurant in Old Chinese quarter with helps for other customers as waitresses and the cashier did not speak any English. Note: there is no English version on the big board. There is not menu – all you can order there is xiaolong bao (well, some soups and stuffs but I did not see many people ordering those). Do not forget to pick a seat as it is always busy inside and take a long Q outside.
Xiaolong bao 🙂 Yummy! I like Chinese food, as long as they are not about rice 😉
NOTE: All photos on my post are not mine. I found them on-line. Some of my photos will be posted later when I have time 😉
Then, after Shanghai, a long story had just begun…