Shanghai is the biggest city of China and also the biggest city of the world if you look at population. It has 24 million inhabitants, to compare; the entire population of my country is 16 million. I didn’t know what to expect, but I went here with an open mind.
The first thing I noticed was the huge amount of high-rise buildings, but I guess they need to house this many people somewhere. For the same reason, there is also a lot of traffic, and as in a lot of other Asian cities, traffic rules seem not to exist, and people love blowing their horn. It’s very hectic, energetic, chaotic.
I did not have a lot of time for sightseeing as I was here for work, but throughout the week found a few hours here and there to look around. Upon arrival on Sunday, I walked around the Bund area. It did not take long before the first people were giving me looks, stares and were even pointed at me as if I was the attraction there. I kind of expected this, but sometimes I am just not in the mood for it, especially not when I’m tired.
I decided to leave sightseeing for a bit and went to a spa that came recommended by a colleague. It was called the Secret Garden Spa on Nanjing East Road (no website) and is a clean, decent spa where the reception staff speaks English. I went back here twice!
Later in the week I visited the older part of Shanghai. A lot of people here, and tiny shops where they sell silk, pandas, watches, tourist junk, etcetera. I got targeted a lot by people wanting to sell me handbags or watches. Yet, I heard a lot of male colleagues telling that they were being approached at night by (what seemed to be) ladies who offered other services, if you know what I mean.
My hotel, the Westin, was in a lively area of city centre, very close to the Bund. The reception area was very spacious and light which gave a good first impression. Check in was quick, and my room was available at 1200 when I arrived, which was nice after a long flight.
I was upgraded to a suite, so my room was spacious and on the quiet side of the hotel, so no busy street noises. The views were not spectacular, but that didn’t bother me. The shower was a nice rain shower, suitable for tall people, even I had at least 15cm left. The bath was proper sized as well. I didn’t take a bath, but as you see, I did hop in it to see if it was tall people proof.
All amenities you expect from a hotel like this were there, one night, I even found a rose on my bed. The staff was great as well: they all spoke very good English. It was a good venue for a meeting, well layed-out meeting rooms with daylight, enough break out rooms and a business centre. The desks here are made for tiny people though, as I was not able to get my giraffe legs under it. The gym was quite big for a hotel gym, and I especially enjoyed the pool: it wasn’t huge, but good enough for a few morning swims, plus it was partially under a glass roof which kept the light flooding in.
We had our group dinner at a restaurant on the Bund: the views at night with all the lights were amazing, and the welcome drinks on the open air roof top area was an instant success with my guests. On other nights, we ventured to tiny local restaurants to taste the local food. I am not an adventurous eater in Asia as I don’t like spicy food, but it was actually was very good food. I also learned that the round thing on the table that turns is called a ‘lazy Susan’.