City Tour Extreme: Day Four & Five, Shanghai

Here they are, our last two days of the tour group madness. I honestly have no idea how we even managed it so far. The whole tour was exhausting, nerve-wracking and just bad due to so many reasons. Okay, not everything was bad as mentioned in the last post when we arrived in Wuzhen and could get some good food and rest there.

I did forget something in the last post. My dear crazy mother-in-law was absent as I had simply forgotten about her due to the mental pain I went through by just remembering that day. She certainly did something stupid again, I mean what else could she possibly do! At the Song Chen theme park we went to a haunted house. With “we” I mean my wife, my father and I. MIL stayed outside with Nathan and my wife told her to wait there as the haunted house would only take a bit over 5 min. Guess what, she wasn’t there when we got out. She wasn’t anywhere nearby and my wife had no phone to call her. No one else from the tour group had seen her or Nathan either. So we split up and searched for her in a hurry as the show “Romance in the Song Dynasty” was about to start. We found her eventually at some of the amusement rides and she defended herself “Nathan looked so bored”… thank you dear mother-in-law by giving us nearly a heart attack searching for you and Nathan.

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Wuzhen during day time

Wuzhen is also the place where the fourth day started. For the first time we did not have to get up so early in the morning and could enjoy breakfast around 8 am. To make it even better we got real coffee, real coffee! At 9.30 am we had to be at the Wuzhen Tourist Office to check out so we took a walk around the town and a little boat ride before starting the next insane trip on the bus. Sadly everything was in the bus as before so the good mood was gone within seconds after seeing the howling monkey.

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Lovely little shops in Wuzhen with actual clean windows!

Being in the bus was already depressing enough but imagine my joy when I heard that we were first going to a silk museum just 45 min away. A museum, wasn’t there a pearl museum just the previous day which ended up to be a giant tourist trap? Indeed the parking lot of that museum was already scary with approximately 50 busses in the waiting there. It all started once again not that bad as we got some information about how silk is produced, the history and the like but this experience ended even quicker than in the pearl museum. It took not even 10 min till we entered a room and the sales program started. It was something about silk bed sheets and all the people were going crazy to buy it, MIL included. Somehow we were able to stop her from buying anything at that sales station but we had to endure many more. I thought already that the pearl “museum” was huge but it paled in comparison to this behemoth of a tourist trap. I think we went 7 floors up and down till we got our again, taking us more than 1 1/2 hours. The whole building seemed to be meant as a shopping mall but failed for some reason and thus this tourist trap moved in to terrorize helpless people like us.

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Welcome to the Shanghai Film Park, watch out for falling bricks

From the wonderful silk museum we drove then for another 1 1/2 hours to the Shanghai Film Park. My wife was really excited to go there as many movies and tv shows she had watched were filmed there since its opening in 1999. At first glance it really looked pretty good with all those old buildings standing there as it was back in the old Shanghai days but it was really only at first glance. All the buildings were kind of falling apart, one had the roof missing entirely, windows broken everywhere, wet walls due to poor construction work and last but not least MIL changing Nathan’s clothes in the bus from warm ones to very thin ones as she started to feel a bit warm in the bus. Okay not that bad except the weather was exactly the same as during all the other days meaning rain and cold wind. Ignorant us did not even realize her work until the bus left and a freezing Nathan was greeting us following MIL. The better part of the time we had at the Film Park we spent trying to find the bus just to find it without the driver. The entire time we just waited there for the bus driver and luckily I had a little sport jacket for Nathan in my backpack.  While waiting my father with Nathan in his arms became quickly the focus of several school groups taking pictures of them, well at least they are famous now.

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Watching those buildings caused a bit of neck pain

After this wonderful Film Park we headed to the Shanghai City Center just 40km away. I was surprised that it took only one hour to get there even with all the traffic as I had seen my share of chaos like traffic in Xi’an. We left the bus at the 88 Century Avenue and the view was for a village kid as me jaw dropping. Around us were the three highest sky scrapers of Shanghai, the Jin Mao Tower with 420m (1,380 ft), the Shanghai World Financial Center with 492m (1,614.2 ft) and the Shanghai Tower with incredible 632m (2,073 ft). We went to the observation deck (The Skywalk) of the Jin Mao Tower and lets just say that those 45s to get up to the 88th floor are less than our elevator back home in Germany needs for closing its doors. The view from there is just amazing and we had luck that we had no clouds and barely and smog around  that time.

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What a View!

Just as everyone was starting to feel hungry again the bus took us to the Yuyuan Tourist Mart which is full of restaurants. But most of the people, us included, didn’t go straight to that place but to a tiny restaurant just outside of it called 阿大碗麺 ADA wanmian. Now I tried to search for some info on it online but all I can find is in Japanese. Anyways all I can say is that it is at least locally famous and very good indeed (at least what I can say about the different jiaozi (dumplings) we ate there). In The Yuyuan Tourist Mart (which is by the way also a huge tourist trap) we spent only little time walking a bit around as we were waiting for a friend of one of the tour group members. This other tour group person was there with her little daughter and her parents, the little girl quickly became friends with Nathan on day one. The friend of her took us out of the Yuyuan Tourist Trap and guided us to the Bund which is only 15 min away by walking. You can see that we left out dear tourist group behind as they still had some other programs going on and we just wanted to do things on our own pace now.

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Front of the Yuyuan Tourist Mart

From the Bund we had a spectacular view on the Shanghai Skyline. After taking more than enough pictures and videos we left the Bund behind and followed Nanjing Road to its pedestrian street part to find ourselves some more snacks. Nanjing road is just filled with shops, malls, restaurants and little snack stalls making the last evening of our city tour unforgettable. As mentioned before, both my father and I are from a small town so Shanghai was really amazing for us. After having a short stop at the M&M flagship store to get analyzed which colour our mood is and what M&M’s we should buy we took the Shanghai Metro Line 12 to its last eastern bound station and from there a Didi Chuxing 滴滴出行 taxi to our hotel. We wouldn’t realize until next morning just how far this hotel was away from the city center as the metro plus the taxi ride took about 30min.

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Nanjing Road

Next morning we had to get up early as usual again and from the hotel we went with the tourist group to the city center which took nearly 2 hours! We left the group  to find ourselves some early lunch while as the rest of the group went to the Bund for some last sightseeing action. Finding some place to hide from the rain wasn’t easy as all the malls wouldn’t open till 10am but we managed somehow. Later at the meeting point we had to take another bus as we and the other woman with the child (+her parents) were the only ones from Xi’an and had to drive all the way back to Nanjing while all the others were taking their flight(s) from Shanghai Airport. The bus trip to Nanjing (3 hours) was a whole different experience once again. Not only because of MIL starting her little war in the bus with the other passengers but also due to the bus driver, the grumpiest man I have ever seen. He was in early 50’s, black teeth, thin, smoking cigarettes non-stop while driving, super long fingernails on both pinkies covered during the trip in some leather driving gloves and  he had one argument after the other with the tour guide from the other group in our new bus. Yes, it was another sleepless ride as we were sitting just a meter away from the driver who complained the entire trip to Nanjing about some stuff.

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Nathan with a new friend at Nanjing Airport

With this the tour would be over except that we had to wait six hours at the airport for our flight, great planning! In the  end we arrived exhausted but safe in Xi’an at my in-laws apartment at 3 am. Overall it was a very disappointing trip but there were also some nice parts such as Wuzhen and Shanghai. In Shanghai I was amazed about the traffic, it was so…so normal. No insane driving, no cars coming directly at you, E-Scooter riders wearing helmets (even some cyclists with helmets!) and the police actually doing their job just like I experienced for example from Paris. I must say that I would be able to drive there a car, something I would never dare in Xi’an where it is only survival of the fittest/ biggest car.

 Have you been to Shanghai and what do you think about the traffic there compared to other Chinese cities?

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37 thoughts on “City Tour Extreme: Day Four & Five, Shanghai”

  1. So I guess the tour group gets kickbacks from the silk and pearl people for bringing the group around to the tourist traps? What a scam!

    It’s good to know that MIL is as good at planning as ever. 🙂

    1. She is indeed very good in planning. Worst things do tend to happen when she is planning something.
      Those tourists traps were just insane and I really wonder how much the tourist agency is earning with them

  2. Wait, what are tourist traps? Fake museums?

    Also, it looks like you went through an entire adventure! So many things going wrong! But even so, from your pictures I get the feeling that you have won something greater! I mean, the place looks amazing!
    Oh and you forgot to mention the food! And no, those dumplings are not enough. 😄

    1. Tourist traps are places were tourists/ tourists groups are brought to where only stuff is being sold from cheap fake stuff to the real deal for much money. The thing is the tourist agencies are earning much through those places and thus each your pretty much has at least one of those stops..

    2. Oh and yeah the food. Well most of the time it was at tourist group restaurants with absolute crappy food. In Shanghai we had so many snacks that I don’t even remember what it all was :p

  3. Shanghai looks really beautiful, especially the view from the top and the lighted buildings at night. Very well captured. Though the tour was really hectic, at least you were able to go to a lot of places!
    And finally no more howling monkey! Hurrah!😁

    1. It was really amazing in the end of the trip. Next time I will definitely not go with a tour group again. I actually didn’t even wanted to go this time but my wife and MIL thought it would a great trip as it was advertised very very well.

  4. Exactly like what I read from the European footballers who moved to China recently, where they say the only clubs they can join is Guangzhou and Shanghai team, because only these 2 teams are located in civilized areas and where driving is possible. Other clubs, no matter how much money they throw at you, is just not worth it because you will be moving to hell.

  5. Sounds like an adventure but I am glad that there were some nice parts. Great photos! I especially liked the ones from Wuzhen. I have only been on a transit in Shanghai airport many years ago, so that doesn’t really count hehe. Nathan looks so cute in that sport jacket. Are the Chinese people that fascinated by white foreigners that they just stop and take pictures of them? 🙂 Speaking of which.. once in Prague, a group of Slovak schoolboys stopped and took a picture of me with them, may be I looked very different to them or may be it was just their teenage hormones, I don’t know.

    1. Really strange right? Each day in China ,even in Shanghai were many foreigner are living, I heard random people saying “look a foreigner!”.
      Makes we wonder when they will ever get used to other people 🙂

      Wuzhen was really wonderful and I really want to go back there at some point for several days

  6. It is great that you could break away from the tour group halfway. I didn’t know you could do that, but I suppose it happens from group to group and if you all had a meeting spot at some point, no one will get lost (unless if you are MIL…).

    Perhaps there is some kind of arrangement with your tour group/agency and the tourist traps. I would not be surprised if that is the case But it sounds like when you saw the crowds, it was already tiring and chaotic enough 😀

    1. My wife convinced the tour guide that we prefer going around on our own rather than visiting some other museum…
      For the first night in Shanghai it wasn’t a problem even as they just gave us the hotel address, on the other day though it was a bit tricky finding the right spot for the bus

      1. Your wife must have some good persuasive skills then especially up against the howling monkey guide. The guide sounds like she can convince anyone of anything being that loud. If you paid up the money already for the tour, I guess that is all that matters…

      2. During the tour the guide advertised other programs we could participate additionally such as going to other performances at night etc.
        We did not chose any of those as we had already stress enough with this weird timetable…
        I will probably bring up a little post at some point regarding how the “complaint” by us towards the travel agency worked out in the end 🙂 (we got some money back that I can say already)

  7. I’m glad you had fun in Shanghai! However I am not sure about the traffic there. It was in Shanghai where the taxi I was riding started reversing in the highway because he had missed his exit… and that never happened to me anywhere else, hahaha.

    1. Probably the driver was new 😮
      In xi’an you can see that all the time, not only reversing but actually turning around and driving against the traffic!
      Shanghai was great except that all the time people came to me “Rolex, purse, belt, you need you need? I have it all!”…

  8. Well, my dears, it sounds like quite a trip. I think it makes me want to stay away from multiple city tours. And those shopping traps, UG! They’re a little tamer in Thailand, but once they start to cater to the Chinese, I’m sure they’ll up their game. Like you, I usually get out as fast as I can.

    Happy to be back home? 😀

    1. I am very happy to be back home. Those tourist traps are nothing for me. It is crazy as it seems all the people there actually are buying something there. No one (except us) came back to the bus empty handed after each of those tourist traps…

  9. I’ve never been to Shanghai, but is certainly look like my kind of city. It also looks very different from the other cities you’ve visited on your trip. What was the M&M color of your mood that day? Blue? :):)

    1. Yeah it was actually blue 🙂
      Shanghai is really an amazing city, at least in my opinion. It is just so different than any other city I have visited thus far, not only in size but also from the feeling you get when going around the city center and seeing how people behave-

  10. One clearly learns from your trip saga to China: avoid the Chinese local organized tours! So commercialized.

    Shanghai sounds incredible and I have heard incredible stuff from others who’ve gone. Just wish one could predict when the bad polluted air drifts in and ..leaves.

    Nathan is a darling. Your MIL is getting too absent-minded at times..

    1. We had really much luck with the bad polluted air in Shanghai, I dont even want to know how bad it might get there in that huge city.
      I really hope we will never participate in such tour thing again, it was just insane to do that and spending so much money

    1. We heard about similar stories about the tour groups here in Germany for Chinese, in the end they are pretty much the same as the ones we encountered in China.
      Here in my town they actually do come as well by the hundreds as we have an Designer Outlet Center…there they have Chinese staff and nearly everything written in Chinese as well

  11. We live in Suzhou, so we have been to Shanghai many times. I honestly haven’t paid that much attention to the traffic in there, since I don’t drive in China.

    When we go to Shanghai, we like to go to a place called Peninsula Restaurant, just off West Nanjing Road.

    1. I don’t drive myself in China as well but the insane traffic when walking around or sitting in a taxi is nerve wrecking!
      No idea even where and what we ate anymore. We were at so many different places in Shanghai 🙂

      1. I heard that. riding in taxis and relatives who drive like maniacs is nervewracking enough, not to mention having to dodge or get out of the way of the numerous motorscooters (which I consider to be on par with a battery operated toy) that insist on clogging the sidewalks.

        You would think that by now all the guys who drive motorcycle taxis should have figured out that no westerner, especially a guy, will never climb on the back of a motorbike with a total stranger.

  12. Looks like you had a great time! Good smogless weather too.
    Sure the traffic is bad in Shanghai but I think you’re right – it is more manageable than a lot of other Chinese cities because they enforce the laws. My only problem with Shanghai is that it is really hard to leave the city after about 10:00pm. If you’re not out of the city by then, good luck!

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