We just got into Nanjing last night, but the past few days in Shanghai have been wonderful.
Sunday, June 30th - Bund & Sky Bar
We kept the day fairly simple, but in the evening we had a nice walk to the Bund. However the closer we got, the more crowded it became. I was shocked and for the first time I was finally starting to see just how crowded it could get. Police were at each street corner herding people like sheep and making sure they wouldn't all pile on to the streets. We got our pictures and then headed back to the hotel to meet my parents who just got into Shanghai. After meeting my parents, we went for a small walk and then came back to take photos from the top of our hotel with some of the most amazing views of the city.
Monday, July 1st - French Concession & Shanghai Food Tour
It was pouring rain all morning, yet we trudged through the pouring rain for nearly an hour from our hotel to the French Concession. While there we visited the former residences of Zhou Enlai and Sun Yat-sen. Normally Zhou Enlai's house is closed on Mondays, but because it was the anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), we got lucky and were able to go inside.
It's interesting because the CPC was highly against Western decadence, yet all the nicest residences built in Western architectural style at the time belonged to leaders of the Communist Party, including Zhou Enlai. It was also fascinating seeing the Chinese perspective on the Cultural Revolution. History is certainly written by the victors and while the United States might paint these same characters as much darker figures, it's a stark contrast to see how normalized communism and the leaders of the revolution are. It's also interesting how high the security is in so many different locations. To enter the house we needed to be fingerprinted. I see police walking the streets everywhere and cameras lining the streets as well. In all honesty though, this might be why crime rates appear to be so low here.
The house of Sun Yat-sen was fascinating as well. He's an interesting figure as well because of the respect he receives from both communists and anti-communists, as a fighter for the end of imperial rule and bringing power back to the Chinese people.
Then we ended the day by taking a Shanghai food tour. I loved the tour because we were able to go a bit off the beaten path and eat at several smaller restaurants. Unfortunately a lot of these shops are beginning to disappear as Shanghai makes efforts to modernize and clean up their city. Shanghai is an extremely clean city that appears to be progressing at a rapid rate, but it's unfortunate that so much of it's flavor and culture is becoming a way of the past.
Tuesday, July 2nd - Suzhou & Tongli
Yesterday we started off the day by meeting our tour guide at the hotel and driving to Suzhou. In Suzhou we first went to some gardens. They were gorgeous gardens that reminded me of the ones in Japan. However, it was completely packed. I was barely moving more than a few feet each minute because we were surrounded by people. It was ironic because the gardens, which were originally meant as a place of peace and serenity had now become a place of chaos.
We then made our way to a silk factory and actually watch the process of how the silk worms produce silk. We saw the different stages of the worms and their cocoons which are then used for silk production. The worms are boiled alive in order to preserve the cocoon, which can then later be pulled apart and spun.
We also visited the city of Tongli, which is sometimes referred to as the Venice of China. It was absolutely gorgeous and may have been one of my favorite parts so far. We took a rickshaw ride in and then we were able to ride down the beautiful canals that pass through the city.
Then we headed back to Shanghai to catch our train to Nanjing.