This month here in the Philippines, we have 2 special days happening in one long weekend: Today, and Chinese New Year celebrated last Friday. And today’s post brings us back to where D and my travel adventures all began – to Shanghai, China, way back February 2007.
At the time, it was so easy to get a China tourist Visa. The embassy was only a few blocks away from our apartment, and there was no visa fee yet. I understand China visa became a bit harder to process a few years down, so we were lucky it was easier to acquire back then. The biggest treat of it all – D and I paid just a little more than 100 US dollars per person then for an all inclusive 5 days and 4 nights package. The travel agency (yes, this was before we mastered the art of booking tours and travels ourselves) explained that China subsidised tourists, hence the low rates.
So off to China we flew, out first out of the country trip together. We didn’t know what to expect, and the moment we boarded the airport shuttle to bring us to our hotel, our eyes were wide looking out at the booming city that was Shanghai. I remember I was amazed at how wide the roads were, and I was impressed to see bike lanes and cyclists.
On our first night we attempted to go to The Bund, but we ended up getting off at a mall, as we couldn’t communicate where we wanted to with our taxi driver. Now this was before we used smart phones, and we didn’t have a map then. That was the first time we learned to ask for our hotel receptionist to write the names of the places we would like to go to so we could show it to the taxi driver. We also learned to ask for English menus whenever we went in to restaurants.
I honestly couldn’t remember the details of where we went to during that trip, as we just followed our tour group without catching much of what our guide explained. What I remember are The Bund (which we finally got to on our last night in Shanghai), the brightly lit Nanjing Road, the only Catholic church that was St. Ignatius Cathedral, and Yu Garden. It was, coincidentally, Chinese New Year week at that time, so we got to experience the celebration up close.