Monday, October 14, 2013

National Day 2013

National Day 2013 - the busiest travel day in the entire year! All the highways are toll free for entire Golden Week, and almost all of China goes on vacation! The roads are jam packed with cars, everyone going somewhere! For this reason, many expats choose to fly out of China for the October break - escaping the crowds in all the cities. This year, we planned to be here in Suzhou with our guests, and try to do some local sight-seeing.

For the first day of Golden Week, we had planned to go to Hangzhou. Unfortunately, there had been an accident on the expressway to Hangzhou, and all traffic was clogged. Unfazed, we decided to head to Wuxi - again, our intrepid driver, listening to traffic updates on the radio, informed us that the Wuxi road, too, was completely blocked! New destination? Since, we had a day earmarked for Shanghai, and that was the only place we could go to without horrendous traffic, Shanghai it was!

Hongqiao Pearl City
First stop in Shanghai - Hongqiao Silk & Pearl City! The name is misleading, though - sure they sell pearls and silks, but for the greater part, the Hongqiao market is a fake brand market. Leather bags, watches, clothes, electronics, and of course, all possible kinds of souvenirs are available here! It is a bargain-hunter's paradise, and I cannot stress this enough - to get a good deal, it is a must to bargain really, really hard. Often, what you pay might be as low as a tenth of the first quoted price! The 2nd floor is the pearl market - a number of jewellery stores to buy pearls, of course, but also a good selection of jade and other semiprecious stones. Although, when it comes to pearls or jade, I'm a complete ignoramus - I have no idea which ones are better, or even what the right price should be! The third floor has a plethora of tailors - you can get a good handmade suit for less than $100, with free home delivery thrown in. Ajey just had a jacket made here, and he's so happy, he's thinking of updating his entire wardrobe!!!

Cool Docks
Hongqiao is also a really good place to grab a quick lunch while shopping. Located right in the market is Bukhara, a really upscale Indian restaurant. Fantastic food, but way pricey! In the mood for something else? Right across the street from the market is Lao Wat Jie - an international food street. Here you'll find all kinds of cuisine - Chinese, Thai, Korean, Iranian, Mexican, German, French and Indian - take your pick! We had had an early start to our shopping, so by lunch time we were about done with Hongqiao. Lunch for us was at an Indian restaurant (no surprises there!), but closer to the Bund - Kebabs on the Grille at Cool Docks.This was the first time I came here, and I'm sure it's going to be one of my favorite places in Shanghai! Located just a little south of the Bund, the Cool Docks appears to be a courtyard of an old house. Fountains playing in the middle, and all four sides lined with a multitude of restaurants - a perfect place to while away the afternoon with friends! The cuisine available is varied and international - Kebabs on the Grille is a must if you want to try Indian food in Shanghai!

View of Pudong from the Bund
Sated by a heavy lunch, and refreshed after a short rest in the car, we headed to the Bund. As expected, there were tons of people - enjoying the spectacular view of Pudong and the cool breeze. To cross over to the Pudong side, we took the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel - other than driving, this is probably the best way. It is very touristy and cheesy, and you can't really see anything underwater - but it is good for a laugh! If we thought the Bund was crowded, the Pudong side was beyond anything that can be imagined! The pedestrian walkways near the IFC Mall were a solid river of people - it was almost a little scary! The Oriental Pearl Tower observation deck is one of the top tourist destinations in Shanghai - and after waiting a couple of hours in line to just get to the entrance, we wisely gave up and decided to head home!

A memorable day for sure - but after seeing first hand the crowded highways and the number of people in the city, note to self - on National Day, stay at home! Signing off!


  1. I just wonder who those folks were that waited in line for one and half hour to just get to the entrance and finally gave up. They deserve some credit!!!!!!!

  2. Need to add a photo of two Coolkarnis enjoying beer along with spicy Indian snacks..