Ni hao! Well we arrived in on our (free!!!) Virgin Atlantic flight from London. Flight was easy peasy..Virgin make travelling long haul with kids a pleasure, never mind the fact that these flights were our free ones from getting bumped when going to the USA two years ago.
Shanghai - it's a tangle of contradictions! It's new, brash, bold, exciting and screaming money, but yet it's old, it's European, it's Chinese..it's everything. We've explored the Bund, which could be easily an area down the Seine, with it's European-style grand house buildings lining the waterway. Then you turn down a side street and you're in an area which I expected China to be like, all beeping scooters, mad cyclists and street stalls with gorgeous food everywhere. It's an assault on the senses, the smells, the noise, it's as though your nerve endings are up on high and everything is just heightened.
Then, of course, theré's "new" Shanghai, the one where the money-making is going on, the international business, the skyscrapers! Travel across the river by boat (and we also did by the sightseeing tunnel..just once, as we promised the kids!) and arrive out in what could be Manhattan with huge skyscrapers all competing in height and design. We wandered down the river walkway for a while, had Korean ice-creams (kids loved the green tea flavour) and took a trip up the 91st floor in the Shanghai World Financial Centre, to the Park Hyatt hotel, where we sat and had Mojitos looking at the sun going down over Shanghai. In fairness, the kids only had Coke. Of the Coca Cola variety ;) We figured it was nicer to sit in the highest bar in Shanghai admiring the view than paying a fortune to go to the observatory three floors higher and jostle for space to take photos!
The most unexpected part of being in China is the amount of people taking photos of us and the kids! We knew that people would want to come up and touch the kids, being Western kids, but we had no idea HOW much! From the minute we stepped on the Bund, we've had countless people come up and ask to take their photos with us. And countless people take our photo just as we're walking past, or sitting eating lunch! We've literally had people stop and look at us sitting eating and they take out their phones and take our photo. The first time it happened it was a bit disconcerting but now we're used to it. People with children keep coming up and getting our kids to touch their kids and hold their hands, as it's said to bring good luck to them. Wé're in a million strangers' photos - I don't get why you'd want strangers in your photos but we're the novelty factor!!!!
We're staying in The Astor Hotel - it's one of Shanghai's oldest hotels - opened in 1846 by the Richards family (Alex - all I could think about was you guys!!!) - it's had people such as Charlie Chaplin and Albert Einstein stay there, so the boys had fun going to the rooms they stayed in and touching the doors that they touched!
Boys taking to the new food like ducks to water - the very first night there they had fried crabs "with eyes and hair and legs still on it" as they wrote in their travel books. I'm not sure if they were crabs or three large prawns on the one stick, but hey, they liked them!!!
Ronan has also had a haircut, he was just too hot, so walking along an alleyway back to the Bund one evening about 8pm we stumbled across the tiny doorway of a barbers, sat Ronan down and pointed to the guy's hair! €1 later and we were done.
Have walked the legs off ourselves too, got to the national museum and spent half a day in the Science and Technology museum also, so everyone happy!