Some Of My Favorite Moments While Visiting Shanghai, China

I’ve had the craziest few months. Since returning from China, I’ve flown out to LA, Dallas, Orlando, premiered my new TV show on TLC, hosted my son’s communion party and am currently prepping for a segment on the Today Show! Not a MINUTE to spare.

But every night before I go to sleep, I think about how I want to talk about this trip. There are so many things that I need to share. I have to break this down into bite size portions. For me AND for you!

Let’s start with Shanghai…

Actually, let’s start with the flight to China  – and then we will get to Shanghai.

IMG_9522I sat in Delta Comfort – which is slightly more than Coach but significantly less than Business. Honestly, it was rough. Not going to lie. But I couldn’t afford the $6,000 upgrade that Delta wanted from me so I could cross the line into the land of the pods. So, I sucked it up and hung out with the people in the back of the plane. We SURVIVED! 🙂

Here’s a look at the menu. You eat a lot on the flight over. I flew to Japan first and then took a quick flight to China. Total flying time was 17 hours. SHEESH. But it’s manageable I promise!! Just be sure to bring books and movies and some back up battery sources. My seat did not have an outlet that was functioning! So, I was so thankful I had a charger with me.

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PS, during my layover in Japan… I bought ALLLLL the Kit Kats. ALL of them. My kids were thrilled.

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We stayed in the Grand Kempinski Hotel Shanghai and I thought it was a great place to call home for a few days. The views were spectacular and the breakfast (if you stay on an executive level) is hard to beat. I enjoyed a mix of Western and Eastern cuisine every morning and had cocktails and free apps in the afternoon if we were around during serving times. While I didn’t get to take a dip in the pool, I still wanted to post a photo of it! How beautiful!

PS – travelers TIP: When traveling around China, be sure to take a photo of your hotel. When you get in cabs, it’s pretty hard to find an English speaking driver. And the old “get a business card at the front desk to show around” trick doesn’t always work. We snapped a photo of our hotel and just showed our driver each time we needed to and it was easy as PIE. 

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The Shanghai World Financial Center took us 101 floors high and boy what a sight! You think you know something about a city while walking around on the street. But once you get a bird’s eye view, it’s an entirely different perspective. It’s hard to imagine that Shanghai as it is today didn’t exist fifty years ago. Did you know that? In the 50s and 60s, the government decided that the farmlands and fishing ponds should be converted into …

Here’s a QUICK video of the view. Imagine the older generation living through the transformation!! WOW! I kept thinking about them. Truly!

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If you are in Shanghai… you HAVE TO EAT DUMPLINGS, right? My very first meal was delicious and was at a place called ‘Din Tai Fung’. You can see your meal being created (and PS, I actually took a dumplings class later on in the week – this is NOT EASY) and can enjoy everything and anything you want… as long as you use chopsticks.

This isn’t Benihana, people! You better get your skills in check! I was a M-E-S-S the first few days, but I survived it and so will you. I want you to look at something in the bottom right photo. Look at the little chicken cracker. It’s to signify that those dumplings are filled with chicken. How fun!!

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A quick walk through the city and we found all types of wonder – the old meeting the new. Literally. I was particularly fond of this man selling birds in wooden cages. He was set up in the front of an alley. I would have purchased one if it wasn’t illegal to take them home!

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Nestled between sky high buildings, we found dozens and dozens of parks. As a New Yorker, I thought this was neat. Reminded me of Central Park – but on a smaller scale and many times over.
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IMG_9583And one thing I HAVE TO NOTE – was a true love of art. I found so many glorious statues randomly stationed throughout this city. These just took my breath away. Such beauty amongst business.

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Then there was that time we rode motorcycles all around town! WHAT?!

This was the first few moments. As you can tell I was pretty scared.

But then this was the rest of the trip. It was pretty super once we got out of the center of the city and on emptier roads. When driving (or walking) in Shanghai, you just have to accept that there are a ba-billion people on the road. A ba-billion! And the cars have the right of way – so keep your wits with you!!! 🙂

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I hope you like to share because that’s pretty much a requirement while eating in China. And can I be honest with you? I LOVE THAT!

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(photo by Credit: Diana Rowe /TravelingInHeels.com)

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(photo by Credit: Diana Rowe /TravelingInHeels.com)
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(photo provided by Mandarin Journeys)

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(photo provided by Mandarin Journeys) Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 12.08.54 PM

(photo provided by Mandarin Journeys) Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 12.08.50 PM

(photo provided by Mandarin Journeys)

I truly enjoyed visiting the Old City and the Yu Garden Bazaar. Here we were able to check out Hu Xin Ting Tea House, the oldest existing tea house in Shanghai. We also sampled yummy street food including – pan fried red bean paste pancakes and soup dumplings (pictured above).

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(photo provided by Mandarin Journeys)

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One of my fondest memories from the trip happened at Tianzifang.  The group just grabbed some seats in the middle of a quaint shopping mart and ordered a few drinks and apps. We laughed for a few hours and posed for pictures as the locals snapped away. I even stopped a group of girls who were dressed up to the nines! I did the majority of my souvenir shopping here and yes, they bartered.

If I had more time, I would have went back and spent another afternoon just people watching. Really enjoyed it!

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(photo provided by Mandarin Journeys)

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We rounded off our time in Shanghai with a lovely massage from Magpie found in the Former French Concession –  a favorite with expats. I LOVED this area!! Treelined streets and LOTS of shopping. As you can see, me and Danielle from http://www.martinisandminivans.com were super happy with the outcome!! Completely relaxed. And by the way, that’s my soul sister right there.

I have so much more to share with you about my trip to China. I wouldn’t even have known where to START had it not been for Mandarin Journeys! Truly! They told us what time to get up and then off we went – a fully customizable adventure waiting for us every single day.

If you are planning a trip to Asia – I HIGHLY suggest you work with a company like Mandarin Journeys because it’s an entirely different world. You don’t speak the language… and the majority of people won’t speak yours! Just being honest here. You need a guide who can tell you where to go and what to do and how to do it. Mandarin Journeys did just that. I loved the fact that I didn’t have to research a THING. I just told the group what I liked and what I hoped to see as a traveler and BOOM — the itinerary was done. Please note: while I was there, we were able to make adjustments as needed. But for the most part, everything was taken care of and I LOVED THAT! I am a person that likes to SHOW UP when it comes to vacations. I’m not someone who likes to spend too much time researching and making spreadsheets and lists. Not my style. This company had me covered as far as where I needed to be, what the highlights were going to be and what key points I needed to take away from each visit. Woot!

Oh and if China isn’t on your list, don’t worry! Mandarin Journeys offers excursions and adventures all over Asia!

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