I just returned from my first visit to Asia! I’ve long wanted to visit Shanghai with my husband, who does business in Asia, and had the opportunity this past week. It was a whirlwind — a relatively quick trip that left me amazed, and wanting more. Shanghai is a beautiful city, and no visit would be complete without a trip to The Bund, where we stayed. A mile-long stretch of waterfront along the Huangpu River, it is a major Shanghai landmark. Stunning views of the modern spread of buildings against the skyline in the East, and old Shanghai architecture in the West (sometimes called ’the museum of buildings’)…the Bund sums up modern China. Nighttime is like a light show, and the vibrancy of the river-side promenade with a sea of people and a sky of lights was thrilling. On several evenings our group of nineteen enjoyed fabulous feasts in beautiful rooms overlooking the Bund. Shanghai is foodie heaven, from dim sum lunches to multi-course dinners, and the essential street food. (Xiao Long Bao - soup dumplings, and Cong You Bing - scallion pancakes) As the biggest city in China, with a population of more than 24 million, the food culture is a mix of provinces from all over China — Shanghai has it all!
We visited Yuyuan Garden, a respite from the bustle of the city, located in the heart of Shanghai. The famous classical garden was originally built during the Ming Dynasty, and ‘Yu’ means pleasing and satisfying…and it was. But nothing tops the feeling I had walking into my first Asian Buddhist temple at Jing 'An. I was emotional when I walked up the steps and climbed over the traditional threshold of the temple into peaceful spaciousness — the massive gold Buddha welcomed me, and the timeless atmosphere embraced me. I loved the smell of incense, the tranquility, and the sacred feeling…I felt as if I’d waited forever for this experience, and it is a meaningful memory of my first trip to Asia.
Even on a fast trip to Shanghai, I saw the juxtaposition of old and new, traditional and modern — from the Bund with epic views of the Pudong skyscrapers…to the Yu garden, with a peek into what life in Shanghai once looked like. If you have the opportunity, go! I look forward to visiting again. And until then, 明朝会 (mintzowê)…goodbye, Shanghai.