An early morning departure out of Dubai and I slept surprisingly well beforehand to say how excited I was. My best friend who I hadn’t seen in 6 months is working on a cruise ship around Asia and she just happened to be docking in Shanghai the same time I was scheduled for a layover there. What are the chances?! Anyway, it was 8 and a half hours over to Shanghai Pudong International Airport. It was two services but a lot of passengers slept for the first half, so it wasn’t overly busy until then!
Landing just after 3pm, we made our way through the airport and over to the hotel to check in. We had agreed as crew to meet downstairs for dinner an hour or so later. but after getting into my room and laying down on my bed, I wanted nothing more than to fall asleep. So I ordered some room service and went to sleep, not wanting to be tired the next day.
Waking up bright and early the next morning, I got ready and went down to the lobby to figure out how to get to Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal without:
a) Speaking a word of Chinese other than thank you (shi shi)
b) Being completely ripped off and
c) With most internet sights being blocked in China not having access to Uber
Speaking with the concierge, she organised a taxi, explained to the driver where I was going and informed each of us of the prices and also gave me a card with directions in Chinese including a map on how to get back to the hotel. So that gave me a little peace of mind. What I hadn’t taken into consideration was that it was 7:30am and morning traffic would be starting to pick up, so it actually took me an hour and forty minutes to get over to the terminal, but I made it in one piece!
Meeting with the biggest embrace and grabbing a Starbucks for some early morning energy ahead of exploring, I had suggested we head to the Yu Gardens. Yuyuan Gardens or Yu Gardens for short, is a famous classical garden located in Anren Jie, Shanghai. It was finished in 1577 by a government officer of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) named Pan Yunduan. Yu in Chinese means pleasing and satisfying, and this garden was specially built for Pan’s parents as a place for them to enjoy a tranquil and happy time in their old age. Again with the morning traffic it took quite some time getting over there, but as we were so busy chatting away and catching up on the past 6 months it only felt like a short journey!
Walking into the kind of courtyard that preceded the gardens, the architecture around us was beautiful. Incredibly oriental with beautiful waters filled with Koi Carp and little wooden boats meandering between the structures, it felt tranquil to say it was completely buzzing with people as it was such a glorious day.
Entry into the gardens was just 40 Yuan and it was so much bigger than anticipated! Wandering around we were getting really lost as there wasn’t any signs nor a clear direction in which to explore, which kind of added to the beauty of it.
In and amongst the plants and flowers were small hidden walk ways, tiny temples to shade from the sun and places to feed the fish in ponds. You could honestly spend a good few hours in here getting lost and wandering around the 5 acres which it boasts, I highly recommend to visit if you’re ever in Shanghai.
The Yu Gardens were great except it wasn’t long before two tall blonde girls started to become a bit of a tourist attraction and we couldn’t go a few minutes without people asking for photos or taking photos of us wandering round. So ready to head out of the sun and grab some lunch we navigated our way out not before stopping in the shops surrounding the gardens.
A girl from my previous flight had told me about a great restaurant with views of the Shanghai Skyline called Vue at the Hyatt. After a quick look on the internet for an address combined with the language barrier we managed to find our way over in a taxi with bad pronunciation of street names.
We took the lift all the way up to the 30th floor and walked out to most insane views over the city. I have seen a lot of skylines in my travels, and I think without a doubt Shanghai’s has got to be my favourite.
Sitting down for an early lunch with Ellie needing to leave at 1pm to get back to the terminal, I opted for the avocado and quinoa salad to start followed with the spring chicken. The food was exceptional and paired with such lovely views, I can see why it was recommended to me. I can only imagine how much more magical the skyline becomes as day turns to night and the sporadic lights begin to appear.
The restaurant also had the most beautiful decor, and upon stepping out of the lifts you were greeted by a wall of intricately designed plates. It gave me some real interior design inspiration.
With time going far too quickly, it was time for Ellie to head back, but not before heading down to the waters edge to get a better view and some more pictures of the skyline before one last cuddle, goodbyes and hope to see you soon’s.
An incredible layover catching up with my best friend. If you’d have told us when we were 13 that one day we’d be catching up with each other in China due to the perks of our jobs we’d have never believed you. A great city, and one I definitely want to return to. Next on the list is to visit is Shanghai Disney!! Fingers crossed for Shanghai on my roster again soon.