Christmas Eve in Shanghai

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End Jul 31, 2011

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Where I stayed
Phoenix Hostel

Flag of China  , Shanghai,
Friday, December 24, 2010

I was the first to wake up and took my sweet time with the bathroom which irritated Liz, although I did leave it considerably drier than the previous night. Forrest, Liz and I were the first to finally wake up around 9 AM, and set forth for in search for  breakfast soon after. We settled on a empty Chinese restaurant after spotting they had wonton noodles and seafood rice congee. I quickly ordered up my congee and Forrest followed suit as to find out what it is. Liz ended up getting the wonton noodles. Soon after, we were joined by Stacey and Jeff, they ordered a ham & egg sandwich and Hainan chicken with green onion sauce, respectively. Their television appeared to be fixated to a local military news broadcast channel as they continued to show many videos and reports of Chinese military.

After breakfast we slowly made our way over to People's Square which was located 5 minutes away by walking. After living in Beijing for a long time, my friends had a set impression of what People's Square would look like. They were entirely wrong, People's Square is a green park, not a concrete jungle like Tiananmen Square. Forrest's attempts to lay down would not cause any disturbance at all. In fact, the park was very clean, open and free of the chaos that surrounds Shanghai. We found an unused fountain and starting taking photos from the rock formations that surrounded it. We made our way through the park starting from the southeast corner until we met the northwest corner and I found Barbarossa. I remember this restaurant because four years ago, we had some hookah on the second level of this restaurant. Unfortunately, the second level was closed due to a company event, MINI Cooper had rented out the top floor for their own luncheon.

Lunch consisted of a set menu from Barbarossa. We also had some drinks included with the meal. I had selected the Passionate Mojito which contained cranberry juice, pineapple juice, lime juice and the usual concoction of what makes a mojito. The drink was ridiculous good and well worth the 65 kuai I paid for it. We also entertained ourselves with my little green ring light from Dee's party back in November. We began to play with it by writing our names and photographing the light trail in the dark environment. Dee, Stacey and Liz were the most successful in writing their names backwards for the camera. I was only able to capture Dee's name but the rest were quite legible.

After lunch, we headed down into the subway station of People's Square and made our journey eastward towards the newly developed business district of Pudong. A long time ago, my childhood friend told me Shanghai was a city that had two sections. On one side of the river, lied the old city and the other side was the new city. I never believed him because cities develop regardless of what it surrounds. I was entirely wrong when I arrived four years ago and saw the massive build up of skyscrapers on the Pudong side of Shanghai. Four years ago, the tallest tower was the Jin Mao tower and I was able to go up to the 88th floor observatory and peer out into the distance. Now, we were able to to into the Shanghai World Financial Center which resembles a giant bottle opener with its large open square at the top of the tower.

We emerged from Luijiazui station and was immediately surrounded by modern skyscrapers from all angles. In front of us was the concrete mess that is the Pearl Oriental Tower. The tower was suppose to resemble two twin dragons playing with two large balls, but it just seemed like a very phallic representation of a man's privates. Next most prominent feature of Pudong was the Jin Mao tower. This gray colored building was the centerpiece of Shanghai, resembling an ancient Chinese pagoda with its many angles and sharp points. It was also built to house and 88th floor observatory for an admission price of 88 kuai, sounds very lucky! Given our timing, we can now go and visit the even taller Shanghai World Financial Center which contained 3 observation decks.

We quickly got lost in the action in our attempts to purchase tickets to up the tower, and we ended up at a Watson's convenience store and downed a couple of drinks before heading up. After struggling to find the actual entrance to the observatory we ended up asking one of the attendants to direct us in the proper direction. We went to the lower levels of the building until we reached a rather empty room where you can purchase tickets to go up the tower. After squabbling a bit on price and which observatories to visit, we decided to split into groups. Dee was not interested in paying the admission fee and decided to hang around Pudong and visit some shopping locations. The rest of us went up the tower with myself and Jeff having purchased the full admission to visit all three observation decks.

We received a small key chain as a gift from the SWFC before entering the elevator that would take us up beyond 425 meters. We rode the elevator until the 95th floor and walked down a flight of stairs to reach the first observation deck. At this point, we were already taller than the Jin Mao Tower and had a nice clear view of Shanghai. The weather had cooperated in the morning and allowed us to peer into the vast distance of the city of Shanghai. Forrest even made the comment that we could see the Pacific Ocean. He suggested we actually go visit the coastline but given the huge scale of the city,it was highly improbable that we would have a chance to visit the Pacific Ocean. Nevertheless, we witnessed it with our own eyes from the top of the Shanghai World Financial Center. Included on the 94th floor was a small bar and a gift shop which sold expensive glass and crystal models of the tower itself. Forrest, Liz and Stacey had only purchased tickets to the 94th floor so Jeff and I pressed forward so we could visit the 97th floor and the 100th floor.

Jeff and I rode an empty escalator up the 97th floor, which was a bit of a downer. The angular design of the building did not allow us to peer over the edge. Instead we were presented with a the window cleaner device. The level did not have much value other than hosting a display for a photo contest with the tower. We went onto the 100th floor via a slow elevator, it seemed to take forever as the final 3 flights required more effort to make its way up. Once we reached the top, we encountered a large crowd of people on the sky bridge. Designed in a way so one may stand on a glass window while looking down, the glass floor only displayed the top of the 97th floor so it wasn't as exciting as the CN Tower elevator ride in Toronto. However, being on the 100th floor provided us the best view of the city of Shanghai. The observatory was also the highest of its kind of the world, even surpassing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Once we had our fill of being higher than most people in the world, we headed back down to the bar on the 94th floor for a couple of drinks. We hung around on the 94th floor bar until most of the city lights had switched on. We left the tower right before the Jin Mao Tower had turned on, but observed the tower fully illuminated from the ground level. We met up with Dee who was patiently waiting for us at the ice cream parlor near the entrance and we headed towards our dinner location.

We once again attempted to location the Xiao Nan Guo restaurant on Nanjing Xilu and resulted in calling the restaurant to confirm their location. They stated it was near the Shanghai television station building which was conveniently labeled on my going on 5 year old Shanghai map. We emerged from the People's Square subway station and trekked in a hurried pace towards the restaurant. They confirmed their location being near the Shanghai television station, but once we got there it was deja vu all other again as we were unable to locate the restaurant. Luckily we spotted the Chinese characters of Xiao Nan Guo on a off street near the television station. We were received by the hostess of the restaurant and made it about 20 minutes later than our scheduled reservation. Nevertheless, they shuttled us into a private dining room and we were treated a well deserved Christmas Eve dinner. Liz took charge of ordering certain dishes that were local to the Shanghainese while Stacey ordered white wine and red wine to accompany the meals. 

After stuffing our bellies full with the delicious Shanghainese cuisine we hurried on over to the Bund where we had planned to ride the river boat cruise along the Huangpu River. We took two separate cabs to the Bund, with my cab ending up near Mao's statue on the northern end and with Liz's cab closer to the cruise boat ticket purchase location. With the call coming in stating the last ferry would leave at 9:30PM, Forrest, Stacey and I quickly ran down to meet up with the rest of the gang near a striped pedestal. We purchased our tickets and were herded into a waiting van which seemed to wait for other passengers but they never showed up. The van then proceeded to drop us off a southern location where the boats were moored. I was ecstatic as we had a boat which had many colors illuminating the scene. We snapped some photos pre-departure and of course during the river cruise which went up and down the Huangpu River. Keep in mind, it was still Christmas Eve and the weather was not at all warm. In fact, it was freezing and the wind chill was not helping the situation. The river cruise came to a climax when we attempted to photobomb another group's jumping picture and Dee ended up falling down. The comments and conversations that came afterwards entertained both groups and we chatted with them until the cruise was over.

Once the cruise trip was over we decided to hit up the French Concession district and find a bar or a club. We split off into two cabs again and met up near the Changshu subway station. After walking in the wrong direction for part of the way, we asked some locals where we could find some nightlife. They pointed us into the right direction and after purchasing a bottle of pass around beer we headed towards Hengshang Lu. We discovered music and elected to enter Zapata's nightclub. It was a Mexican theme dance club that was multi-storied and had separate sections for people to lounge around or dance in. The 12 o'clock hour chimed in right at when we were dropped off our items at coat-check. After our 10 kuai per item coat check in, we entered the club and were in for a nice Christmas treat. I had my eyes feasting on the sexy Santas dancing on top of the bar Coyote Ugly style. They switched out the dancers regularly but every so often they would announce free tequila and everyone would line up for some free liquor. I was quickly on the scene as to receive my present from Santa. It was so nice that I lined up again with another Santa several feet away but also on the bar counter. This procedure of me receiving free tequila from sexy Santas occurred over and over again as my friends would recall. The Christmas club event culminated to a great end for day number two in Shanghai.

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