Our fourth and final stop in China was to be it biggest city. After several months of what seemed like constant travelling, we decided on spending five nights in Shanghai. Admittedly though we had little planned for our stay and decided to take it pretty easy during our time there. Braxton’s sixth birthday would also fall during our stay, for which he was completely in charge of the day, but more on that later.
For our accommodation we booked on Airbnb and despite the warnings about some Airbnb’s been illegal in China we risked it one final time. We had a nice little two bedroom loft in the Jiading district about 30kms from the centre of Shanghai, although it was right on the subway line (see our review here).
Paula’s brother’s business partner lives in Shanghai and he kindly offered to show us some of the sights. So after meeting up with him he took us for dinner and a stroll through the financial hub of Shanghai and along the riverbank. We have been pretty lucky and visited some amazing cities throughout Asia, but I have to say the skyline of Shanghai was for me, the most incredible I have seen yet.Through the day the buildings and structures are a sight in themselves, but they really do come alive at night, with each and every way you look offering fantastic views from the boardwalks built about 10 metres above the road. Braxton especially enjoyed this and took lots of fantastic photos of the skyscrapers. We even met a couple from New Zealand who caught our accent and after finding out they lived near Busan, in South Korea, we exchanged contact details to meet up with them in one weeks time when we were due to visit this very location.We had initially decided on several day trips out of Shanghai, but in the end we only took one; to the “Venice of the East”, Suzhou. Using the high-speed trains it took us a mere 30 minutes from Shanghai to cover the 100km journey and upon arriving we found this historic town, built-in 514 BC, filled with canals and waterways. One of the main draw cards here is the Humble Administration’s Garden for which we spent several hours wandering around the 13 acres of gardens. Entrance tickets were XX CNY/$ NZD and the grounds are like a maze with paths leading in each and every direction; Lincoln and I even managed to get ourselves lost from Paula and Braxton for a good hour. After the gardens, we visited the famed canals and took some snapshots, unfortunately due to Lincoln and I going AWOL in the gardens we had limited time to explore before we had to get the train back to Shanghai. It was definitely an interesting area and one which we would like to go back to when we had a little more time.The day afterwards was Braxton’s birthday and as with most kids, he had been counting down the amount of sleeps for as long as we would remember. In the week prior he had drawn up a very detailed schedule for the day including what time he would awaken, what he would have for breakfast, lunch and dinner, when he would open presents and what games he would like to play. As with most six-year olds he slipped in a lunch visit to McDonalds so he could have a happy meal. However his dinner request was a bit more unusual and he had decided on eggs on toast with a side of pork dumplings. Now I can’t imagine many six-year olds would want that combination for their birthday dinner, but Braxton did. Pre-travelling birthdays were always a massive deal for our families, with excessive amounts of gifts and large parties which are simply not possible while travelling full-time. We do however try to celebrate both Lincoln and Braxton’s birthdays as much as we can, which still includes a number of presents. It just means that they get interchanged with any toys they already have; with any older toys and books being donated. Both have got really good at this, especially after seeing how little some other children have in countries we have visited like Laos and Cambodia.With very little else of note seen or done during our stay, our time in Shanghai (and China) came to an end. For me, China might not have knocked Cambodia off it’s perch as my favourite country, but it is definitely the first one I would like to return to one day. I felt we left the country with so many things unseen, especially considering we had first planned to spend a month exploring China travelling into the far eastern provinces and up to the Mongolian border to name a few. The good thing with travelling is we have no real set plans, so it is always possible that a return trip might not be that far away, fingers crossed.
Average Daily Spend for 2 weeks in China – $266.65 NZD ($94.15 over budget per day) Overnight train travel is pretty expensive here!! Without our two overnight train trips our average daily spend would have been $167.00 NZD ($5.50 under budget per day).