Old Shanghai - New Acrobats
Breakfast in the Yi Café at the Shangri-La Pudong Hotel in Shanghai is a wonderful experience. The food is freshly prepared and there is a huge choice too. In fact it is the only hotel breakfast room we know that places a food map on each dining table to help you find your way around. Needless to say it is a real challenge extracting our guests from the many food counters in order to start our Shanghai City Tour. First stop on our tour is the Yuyuan Garden, which dates back to the Ming Dynasty. The garden contains five acres of delicate pavilions and winding paths, and its Grand Rockery boasts caves, grottoes and an artificial mountain nearly 50 feet high! Adjacent to Yuyuan Garden is a vast and busy souvenir market where, frankly, you can buy almost anything, including fake Rolex watches naturally. Guests are given a little free time here and come back with hats, suitcases and silk duvets! From the gardens we head to The Bund, an elegant promenade situated alongside the Huangpu River. From here we can see much of the riverside city scape, including our hotel and the amazing Pearl TV Tower. The Bund itself has numerous historical buildings that once housed the important banks and trading houses from the UK and many other countries. After lunch we visit the Shanghai Museum which is filled with exhibits of ancient Chinese art including bronzes, ceramics and sculptures. The jade gallery and a collection of beautiful Ming and Qing furniture are particularly renowned but it is the visiting exhibition of Faberge that attracts any of our guests!
After dinner at a local restaurant (with ice creams provided by the Furlongs team!), we attend the theatre for a performance of Shanghai's famous Acrobat Show. It's truly a sensational show with unicyclists, diabolo, plate spinning, springboard acrobatics, balancing acts, silk rope hanging and much more, including a young man who did the splits and then sprung up by muscle power alone! Astonishing. Sadly the quality of the show diminished when a knife throwing act commenced and Richard was "picked" to be the "volunteer". He is yet to find out who set him up, although our local guides seem favourite for blame. Clearly they had endured enough of Richard's demands and wanted him bumped off (or cut up). Suffice to say it was a grueling experience although Richard didn't quite see the full show since his head was deliberately covered by a jacket at the time. He survived to live for another tour, but eagerly awaits photographic evidence.