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Metty 87 posts

@zapato1060 we came back from a 5 night trip to Shanghai two weeks ago and don’t have any specific suggestions but can only share our experience.

I bought £50 RMB from a friend who’d recently returned from a similar trip who was insistent that I wouldn’t need it as Alipay is everything. We did actually manage to spend it, most in the fake market at Science & Technology Stn on line 2 on some ‘silk’ bedding and some when a taxi driver couldn’t read my Alipay QR and I couldn’t read theirs (may be a scam but didn’t cost more and I was happy to offload the cash!)

We had few expectations, Mrs Metty did ask several times why we were going at all as it seemed like going for a holiday in Canary Wharf China-style (to use Virgin vouchers most cost effectively) and as is often the case, it turned out to way exceed our expectations and we had a great time.

You may have been to China recently but I haven’t been for 7 years and the change was incredible. I assumed that it was maybe just Shanghai as a showpiece but we’d booked a day out by 280kph train to Suzhou (Tongli and gardens in Suzhou) and found same there, autonomous buses, no petrol/diesel powered transport that I recall so all very quiet, transport fabulous and well organised – like Japan seemed years ago to us – things like Suzhou railway station is the size of Terminal 5 with seats for everyone to sit down. Shanghai station older but still enough seating. Everything working off Alipay, passport used as train tickets, Shanghai metro so easy to understand.

We’re really more interested in fluffy things like people watching than food; at the weekend the cosplayers were out in force and in the gardens the girls doing selfies in their (I assume) rented dresses with make-up done were a good watch. Also surprised to a guy dressed in a French maid outfit in central Shanghai; although I don’t read the Daily Mail I assumed China may not be too liberal.

I was using a 2018 Lonely Planet for walks around the various districts; amusingly the ‘Old town’ walk was difficult as what was the Old Town has been bulldozed awaiting redevelopment. And the LP wasn’t too helpful with the fake market, so we got off the metro at Science & Technology Stn, went above ground and wandered around for an hour looking for it before an entertaining exchange with a car park attendant using Google Translate and sign language helped us understand it was actually in the Metro station. Lots of aircrew there, which explains the ‘airline discount’ signs and an inordinate number of model aircraft stalls. btw Uniqlo prices 20%-30% cheaper than UK, not a huge saving, not sure if useful as a general yardstick.

Loved it, hardly saw any westerners at all outside the market, nobody gave us a second glance but people were very keen to engage if need be. Bizzarely, of the millions of residents, two of the people we approached had been to Uni in the UK. Despite using the metro, we walked 20k steps every day. Gave up with WeChat as WhatsApp and Google worked ok for us. Hope that you have a good time too!

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