Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fall Break in Shanghai

There are several breaks during the academic year that allow HNC students the opportunity to travel throughout China and the region.  Current student Nanfei Yan took advantage of Nanjing's close proximity to Shanghai to spend a week there over fall break.  Read on for the highlights of her trip:

Hello All,

Two weeks ago was Fall Break at the HNC. A quick survey of destinations included Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, Cambodia, Japan, Sichuan, Huangshan, Beijing, and Guangdong. Breaks at the HNC present a fantastic dilemma for students: explore China or go abroad? With so many countries nearby, it can be a difficult decision. I spent the week in Shanghai, a decision which all of my friends considered utterly boring. I’ll talk about what I did, and you guys can be the judge!

Shanghai is less than 90 minutes away by gaotie, the high-speed train. As one of the most developed cities in China, it’s a popular destination for tourists internationally and nationally. This makes it a prime location for food. Shanghai joins my list of top-tier gourmet cities such as Manhattan, Tokyo, and Paris. Below are a few of the highlights:

1. Table No. 1: Gordon Ramsay’s protégé Jason Atherton does ‘world-influenced modern European cuisine’ in a quaint, newly renovated area downstream from the bund area. Go for lunch and reserve a window table that overlooks the courtyard. 

Pork shoulder at Table No. 1
Dessert at Table No. 1
 2. 富春小龙: Possibly the best xiaolongbao in mainland China. This popular shop is constantly crowded, so ordering and getting a seat is reminiscent of Black Friday shopping. The menu is extensive, but I recommend the蟹粉小笼 (crab xiaolongbao). 
Inside the busy Fuxiang Xiaolong
Fuxiang's Xiaolongbao
 3. 福1088: Traditional Shanghainese cuisine situated in a private villa. The 红烧肉 (red braised pork) is chopstick-tender and literally wine-colored. Desserts such as green tea tiramisu and taro mango sorbet offer Chinese twists to European staples. 
Red Braised Pork at Fu 1088
Mango Taro Sorbet at Fu 1088
 While I could go on and on about food, that wouldn’t do the rest of Shanghai justice. It was a week of blue skies and mild weather. Autumn brings warm colors, which Shanghai curiously juxtaposes against Christmas decorations (with no tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving, Asian cities tend to start Christmas extra early). I went to several parks, the largest being Century Park in Pudong. Opened in 2000, this park was Shanghai’s answer to Manhattan’s Central Park. Though on a smaller scale, it’s still the most serene and landscaped area in Shanghai. It may also be the only place you could see autumn leaves falling on sand, with skyscrapers on the horizon. 
Jingan Sculpture Park
Century Park
One of my favorite places in Shanghai is M50, a creative zone housing the studios of Shanghai’s preeminent artists. It’s entirely free, with hundreds of art galleries open to the public. It’s a unique location that demonstrates an unregulated venue for free speech in China. The artists can often be found in the back of their gallery, working on their latest painting. Compared to the commercialized 798 Art Zone in Beijing, Shanghai’s low-key M50 feels much more authentic.

Courtyard at M50

Multimedia piece at M50
I went to 14 different restaurants over the course of the week, as well as checking out the Yu Garden, the Bund, Xintiandi, and a wushu movie near Jingan Temple. While I didn’t scale mountains or challenge another country, I had a delicious (albeit turkey-less) Fall Break. 

Blue skies at Yu Garden
View of the Bund from Pudong