We were back in Shanghai having just spent three days exploring and drinking copious amounts of tea in the beautiful city of Hangzhou. Our next few days would involve some shopping, a trip to the zoo, a visit to the French Concession and walks along the Bund.
We left Hangzhou around midday and caught the train back to Shanghai. My partner informs me that the views during the train ride were rather nice but honestly I was fast asleep. There’s just something very calming about travelling on those bullet trains. We checked into our hotel, Ji Hotel Shanghai Huai Hai then decided to spend the afternoon exploring the French Concession.
The French Concession is an an older area of Shanghai and was previously a foreign concession. The architecture has a more European vibe to it and all the streets are tree-lined. It’s a charming area of Shanghai with an abundance of boutiques.
Shanghai Zoo is pretty renowned for its huge variety of animals and we were really looking forward to visiting. It turned out that Shanghai Zoo was a bit of a roller coaster of ups and downs for us. Ups because their collection of animals is truly magnificent. There were animals I had never seen before like flamingos, toucans, mandarin ducks, lots of birds I’d never actually heard of and of course, giant pandas.
The downside was that I’m not sure the enclosures were adequate for a lot of the animals. Some enclosures stood out as being particularly bad.
The first thing we noticed was five giant sea turtles crammed into the one tank. When I was a child I was sitting perfectly still on a beach in Northern Queensland (Heron Island to be precise) as the giant sea turtles hatched and made the tumultuous journey to the water. Only a small number of the hundred of turtles I saw that night would have made it to the sea. I know how far those creatures swim each year and it was heartbreaking to see them in such a tiny tank.
We convinced ourselves that there must be a bigger tank they go in at night and this one must just be for the day time. We moved on but it wasn’t long before we saw some other questionable enclosures. The bears were in ridiculously small rocky enclosures with nowhere to hide from prying eyes. The same again with many of the monkeys. I mean just look at them, those monkeys broke my heart.
In fact it was the monkeys that distressed us the most. We saw on numerous occasions visitors to the zoo feeding the monkeys chips, lollies and other food that is obviously not on the menu of a healthy primate. There seemed to be a complete lack of respect for the animals and people tapped and banged on glass, shouted at the animals and threw things at them all to get their attention so they could snap a good pic.
I’d never seen behavior like that at the zoos in Melbourne. We left feeling conflicted. On the one hand we’d been privileged to see all those beautiful animals but on the other hand their treatment was just cruel.
Has anyone had similar experiences at Shanghai Zoo or did we just pick a bad day to go? I would love to know/ be given some reassurance that those animals actually live a good life.
It was our last day in China. We were set to head back to Melbourne after dinner but we still hadn’t seen one of Shanghai’s main attractions in the day time. So we spent the morning at the Bund.
The Bund is a walkway along the Huangpu River with fantastic views of Shanghai’s business district including the Oriental Pearl Tower. Everyone talks about the smog in Shanghai but this was actually the first day we noticed it. I think we’d just had really good luck so far in terms of air pollution.
At the end of the Bund is the Monument to the People’s Heroes. The structure was built to honor the martyrs of the Revolution. At 24 metres tall it is supposed to look like three rifles joined together.
After our walk along the Bund, we headed for Nanjing Pedestrian Street. The street is an enormous shopping precinct where all the big brands are located. And yes it is significantly cheaper than back home (at least in Australia).
We’re not huge on shopping while on holidays though so we mostly just browsed and admired the little carts that travel up and down the road taking people to their desired shopping destination. Picking up our luggage from our hotel we jumped on the metro and headed to the airport.
It was the end of our stay in China. Over the last week and a bit we had explored two of the most lively cities in the country. We weren’t ready to leave but we were excited to plan our next visit to Shanghai and potentially learn to speak some Chinese back at home.
I would love to hear your thoughts and favourite things about Shanghai too so please comment below…