One Wedding and a much needed Holiday

Rob Shaw decides to get married. Rob Shaw decides to get married in Shanghai. Rob Shaw decides to get married in Shanghai during the week of Chinese National Day. So determines my holiday.

Excited about seeing Rob get married, I get into a taxi on Chinese National Day to spend my four days of holidays in Shanghai. Headed towards the airport, I quickly notice that we aren’t going anywhere fast, we’re not going to go anywhere fast and thank goodness, my airfare is completely changeable. Did I ever mention how bad transport is in Wuhan? If not, picture the entire of well, Australia, in Melbourne with no trams or trains. Just buses and cars. Get the point? That’s on a normal day. Imagine everyone actually trying to go somewhere on the one day and you have National Day in Wuhan.

I finally arrive in central Shanghai at about 6pm… just when everyone else is also arriving in central Shanghai to go to National Day Celebrations in, lo and behold, the park where I need to walk through in order to get to my hostel. Tired and exhausted, I get off the train and on arrival of the next train, I see one of the funniest occurrences of my life (and probably a regular one in Japan). I see train doors opening, 100 people trying to push out the door and 100 people trying to push in the door. The laws of physics (?) determined that not a single person made it in and not a single person made it out, leaving 200 unhappy people. None of them stopped to think that if you let people out first, maybe you would be able to get in… and out.

Hostel was brilliant and happened to hold around twenty Australians who were volunteer teaching in different areas of China. Turns out they were having a get together and as a fellow Australian I was invited to join in. The next day, we all trouped off site-seeing together.

First point of call was the YuYuan Gardens, or more precisely, the bazaar near the gardens. As would be the theme of the week, everyone else had decided to go there as well but it was still a site to behold.

A quick stop for lunch and off to the antique market where we wandered around for an hour or so, buying a few souvenirs and chatting to the locals.

Antique Market

Side alley off the market

A couple of the local stall-holders

We walked from the Antique Market to the French Concession. Shanghai has often been deemed the “Paris of the East, New York of the West”. Foreign occupation that began during the Opium War and ended shortly after WWII established Shanghai as one of the largest cities in China and created the European architecture for which it is known. The French Concession is the region of Shanghai controlled by French businesses and related armed forces and holds what is seen as excellent examples of French architecture. Now, it is also one of the largest (and most expensive) shopping districts in Shanghai, if not China. We walked down a few side streets, looked in a few shops and then wandered off home.

Strange statue

Extremely polite traffic sign

The stone I fell over four times (sober)

That night, we jumped into taxis and headed off to a Shanghai nightclub where men pay Y100 and women pay Y60 for all you can drink. Finally it pays to be a woman. The highlight of the nightclub was definitely the two bouncers, one the shortest man I have ever seen and the other, the tallest man I have ever seen. Even if you were allowed to take photos of them (we were told not to) you couldn’t… they simply wouldn’t fit in the same shot.

The next day, slightly worse for wear, I headed down to Shanghai’s most famous area: The Bund. Impressive as it was, it almost felt wrong. After all, this is China not Europe. After cruising down the side of the river, I jumped into the Bund Tourist Tunnel to cross the river. Psychedelic, odd and just plain idiotic are some words that I would use to explain the river crossing. See the The Shanghai Tunnel Youtube Video that I found to try and experience the feeling.

The Bund

Putong Riverbank

Architecture in the Bund

Headed home to the hostel to get changed for Rob’s wedding but found myself completely and utterly lost. Panicked for a little bit given that Rob’s wedding was the reason I came to Shanghai but shook out of it and headed straight to the wedding. The wedding was a fairly typical Foreign/Chinese mix but both parties looked just gorgeous. It was also good to see Kate, Mike and Libby again to inject some Aussie back into me. The wedding was followed by a night of wedding games before we left the happy couple to celebrate their marriage.

Far Left: Rob and Ada cutting the cake
Left: Pouring the wine
Above: Celebrating their union

The next day I headed out to Zhouzhuang, a water village about ninety minutes west of Shanghai. Zhouzhuang, like Tai O Village on Lantau Island in Hong Kong, is called the Venice of the Orient. Unlike Tai O Village, this place actually was the Venice of the Orient. It was one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been… even though it was completely packed with tourists.

Some of the key sites in Zhouzhuang are the Zhenfeng Zeguo, a symbol of Zhouzhuang; the Twin Bridge, made famous by painter Chen YiFei; and Quanfu Temple, a large temple complex overlooking Nanhu (South Lake).

Zhenfen Zeguo

Twin Bridge

Quanfu Temple

They may have been the key sites, but the following pictures show what I think Zhouzhuang is really about.

Headed back into Shanghai and took a quick walk through NanJing Lu, the main shopping street of Shanghai. Absolutely dazzling!

Then I caught the fast train (up to 301km/h in the ten minute trip) back to the airport and flew home ready for work the next morning.