25 working days until the next holiday! Get away from it all? Nah
Shanghai: few places conjure up so much by name alone. Ours is a world-famous metropolis steeped in architectural heritage, rich culture, exotic promise, and excess.
Time and again, we see tourists or out of town guests light up at the wealth of things to see and do here, from the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in all its retro sci-fi glory to the quintessential charm of the Luwan and Xuhui Districts. Yet when we're looking for ways to spend our time off, most of us head for the hills, which is what Shane and I intended to do with the Labour Day holiday. But between busy jobs and Season 6 of "Line of Duty", nothing got planned, and we stayed put. That said, we had a blast and - between brunches - wandered the city crushing on it like Koreaboos at a Kpop concert.
Sure, one man's daydream is another man's day, and the sheen to any basic experience dulls over time. We all need a change of scene. Aside from the obvious holiday-maker perks, taking a break keeps us human. But getting away from it all needn’t involve airport security and dodgy tan lines. With a change of view, we can discover rewarding experiences closer to home.
Being a tourist in your own backyard is no new concept, but it can breathe fresh life into stale ground. Whether you’re planning your next vacation or looking to spruce up a weekend routine, here are a few ideas on how to explore Shanghai with a newfound spring in your Feiyue's.
Act like a tourist
I’m not suggesting pairing socks with sandals, more that you act as you would when away.
Channel your inner traveller. Hit the tourist spots, take the obligatory snaps and buy an overpriced piece of tack to celebrate the day. We don’t always have cell service or access to the internet when abroad, so why not navigate Shanghai using a paper map? You’ll see more than you would following a GPS.
Get a room
Depending on the context, waking up in a bed that isn’t yours can fill you with regret or delight. When it comes to being a tourist, staying in a hotel is a tried-and-true way to set the mood for adventure.
If you live in the suburbs, head into the city and consider spending a night or two in a neighbouring district if you live downtown. The added kick of being away from home - and the stressors that come with it - will only add to the fun.
Go on tour
We can all reel off the names of iconic buildings in Shanghai, but do we know their history? From art-deco decadence to the landmarks lining the Bund, our city’s backstory is as lavish as it is loose.
Hop-on, hop-off bus tours might be meant for tourists, but they’re a great way to plug gaps in our local knowledge. Taking in what visitors find fascinating allows us to see the seemingly mundane in a whole new light.
Shanghai craves foreign trends and tastes, but our city also stakes formidable claim as China’s hottest dining destination. So, do as the Shanghainese do and make a meal out of sampling local cuisine.
Skip the smashed avocados on toast and stuff yourself with xiaolongbao (dumplings), or head to Weixiang Zhai on Yandang Rd for a bowl of majiang mian (sesame noodles). And if street-smart is your regular gig, splurge on a luxurious dining experience with multiple courses.
Learn the lingo
Use murky Mandarin to your advantage. Rather than relying on English-speaking locals, commit to using what you have no matter the clumsiness. Stick a phrasebook in your bag or read from a pocket translator for added kudos.
Being out of your comfort zone will have you feeling fresh off the boat in no time.
Make it a date
I pass intriguing places daily and make a silent vow each time to one day check them out. No doubt you'll do the same. Having lived in Sydney for two years and never set foot in the Opera House, take it from me: it won't happen.
So load up your calendar, set a date, and keep it.
Old to new
Those day-to-day things you do? Make them touristy.
A Sunday morning saunter can turn into a walk around a new neighbourhood. Last week Shane and I popped out for our usual coffee on Nanchang Road and ended up much later (and a fair bit tipsier) at Ferguson Lane, having stumbled across loads of new places en-route.
You'll be surprised how shifts in every day habits can widen your window for adventure.
There are 25 working days until the Dragon Boat Festival holiday - not that anyone's counting. While the long weekend doesn't afford much in the way of travel, it does offer the opportunity to visit one of the most sought after cities in the world.
And if that sounds too much like hard work, there’s always brunch.
Anything to add? Get in touch if you've got a favourite spot in the city or a top tip to explore Shanghai like a tourist. We'll share suggestions in time for the Dragon Boat Festival holiday.