This morning, Monday 21 March, we woke up early at 5.30am to have a quick breakfast before our tour was due to leave at 7.30am. We were just about to put on our jackets, when an announcement came over with the news that there had been a mechanical issue at 1.30am. The part had been repaired but it meant that we would now be seriously delayed getting into port.
Disappointing, as we had booked a full day tour, the highlights being a visit to a temple with a Buddha carved out of solid white jade and the Shanghai Museum.
Confusion followed, as you can imagine, with thousands of passengers wondering if we would get off the ship at all. But the captain updated us as much as possible and the staff worked hard behinds the scenes, trying to reorganise tours and hand delivering flyers of changed times to our staterooms. Of the 9 tours, only two were cancelled; ours was not, but there would be no time to visit the museum or the temple.
Fortunately, we decided to go anyway, as the only alternative was to get the free shuttle bus into town. A large number of passengers did cancel and the queue for the shuttle was very, very long!
Once underway, about 3.15pm, it took us about an hour to get into the city. The day was fine but the sun was having a losing battle trying to shine through all the pollution! Excellent roads, sweeping overpasses on top of overpasses and 7 lane highways. The number of apartment buildings was just amazing – I have never seen anything like it. Thousands of them on both sides of the highway, as far as the eye could see. Land is so expensive that most people want to live in an apartment; but now so many have been built, they are called “ghost buildings” because so many are empty.
Our first stop was to the Yu Gardens, which the people kept open late just for the Princess tours. Dated from 1559, this garden covering 5 acres is lavish and so beautiful, with its pagodas, pavilions and winding paths and caves, leading to a lovely pond full of carp.
To reach the garden, we walked through a very historic part of Shanghai called The Bund, along the banks of the Huangpu River. This was formerly the financial district and is now full of shops and eateries. We were sorry that we did not have time to stop, as we could have spent hours exploring this fascinating area.
Because we left so late, what was supposed to be a lunch stop now became dinner. This was enjoyed on the 4th floor of a floating restaurant with magnificent views of the city. The food was excellent and the dishes just kept coming.
Next we went to the stunning Jin Mao Tower – a lift took us to the observation deck on the 88th floor in 45 seconds where we had the most breathtaking views of Shanghai by night. The middle of the building is hollow and you can lean over and see right down to the ground.
The last stop was to the Local Silk Museum where we were given an interesting talk and demonstration.
Luckily the ship was not sailing until 11.00pm and we got back on board about 10.15pm. It was an amazing day and Shanghai is, without doubt, the most vibrant and beautiful city I have ever seen. The architecture is amazing, and nearly every building is lit up at night. We had a wonderful tour guide and we both agreed that we would love to spend more time in this fascinating city.