Day 7: China Adventure – Shanghai
There was a huge medical conference in Shanghai at the hotel that Contiki usually stays at, so we were upgraded to a 5 star hotel. Given this, the beds were the softest and the pillows were the fluffiest they’ve been during the whole trip! We all slept like babies which was good because we had to make up for lost time and do Shanghai in a day!
We headed downstairs at 8:00 AM for breakfast. The hotel had a wide variety of options, but I had a bowl of fruit (I have no idea what it was, but it good) & potatoes with onions.
Contiki also arranged for a tailor to meet us during breakfast so we could get measurements for custom suits and shirts. I was going to just buy 5 shirts, but I decided to pull the trigger on a suit as well. The shirts came out to just under $50 each and the suit cost $250. I’ve always wanted a custom suit and it fits like a glove!
After breakfast & the tailor, we headed out on our mission to do Shanghai in one day! Our first stop was a silk factory where we learned a quick history of the Silk Road and how silk is made.
The Silk Road was operated for thousands of years in an effort to cater to the West’s obsession with silk. During this time, the process around the production of silk was a heavily guarded secret so the Silk Road was the only way for Europe to procure silk. Europeans finally were able to spy on the process and take silk worms back to their countries to produce silk by themselves which rendered the Silk Road obsolete.
Silk is made from the silk worm‘s cocoon & one cocoon can make over 1,200 meters of silk! The lifecycle of the silk worm is just 45 days & it spins the cocoon at the end of its lifecycle. We also learned there are two types of cocoons – single with one worm and double with two worms. Single cocoons can be used for things like ties and scarves because there is one thread. Double cocoons can only be used for the filling of silk comforters & pillows because there are two intertwined threads that get tangled up. The threads of 8 single cocoons are twined together to make a stronger material that can be used to produce ties, scarves and other clothing. The double cocoons are stretched and layered on top of each other to create the filling for pillows and comforters. Also, the actual body of the silk worm can be used for makeup or hand cream. The Chinese also eat it – it supposedly tastes like a peanut!
The jars illustrate the different phases of the lifecycle of a silk worm
Machine that twines the silk together to make it stronger
Making a silk comforter
After they tried to sell us anything and everything made out of silk, we headed to our next stop, Little Shanghai. Nestled within one of the most modern cities in the world, Little Shanghai can be considered the “Chinatown” of Shanghai. The buildings were traditional Chinese buildings and it was very fun to explore.
Our first stop was to have “soup dumplings” which are dumplings with a pork and soup filling. The line was 25 minutes long, but they were worth it!
After the dumplings, we strolled around and took pictures on one of the bridges in Little Shanghai.
Another picture from the bridge
Then, I split from the group to go check out the Baiyun Guan Taoist Temple in the heart of Little Shanghai. It was an amazing cultural experience. In a nutshell, Taoists believe in honoring their ancestors. This religion can be used in parallel with other religions. To honor their ancestors, they burn incense and bow 3 times to different statues.
Large statue that many of the Taoists bowed to
This is the location the Taoists lit their incense
Bowing to the statue
Smaller statues some of the Taoists prayed to
After the temple, I walked around Little Shanghai before catching up with our group
Our next stop was the observation deck of the Jin Mao Tower. Situated on the 88th floor, it gave us a great birds eye view of one of the most modern cities in the world.
Shanghai World Financial Center
Jin Mao Tower
Oriental Pearl Tower
View from Jin Mao Tower
Inner core of Jin Mao Tower
After the tower, we headed to the “Copy Mall”. We passed a few cool things on the way there!
Once we got to the “Copy Mall”, a lot of the group set out to buy fake handbags and some electronics that “may have” fallen off the back of the truck, but I set off on a search for a rolling duffel bag, I only took a backpack with me to Asia and needed a suitcase to fit my souvenirs and the suit I ordered earlier in the day. I was able to negotiate the price for a large duffel bag from $60 to $25 (with help from one of my fellow travelers)! The best deal anyone got was 5 Beats by Dre headphones for $150!