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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Perfect Shanghai Weekend


Shanghai (Hu for short) has the recipe for the quintessential "Grandeur Traveler" weekend. Cosmopolitan Shanghai represents what any city dreams of becoming. It is moving to the future in lightning speed but it is still firmly grounded to its past. Thanks to Philippine Airlines, I finally got to visit China's most influential economic metropolis last month. 

We flew to Shanghai a little before lunchtime via Philippine Airlines. As usual, flying Business Class with my favorite flag carrier was a delight. They always manage to make me feel at home. From take-off to landing, everything was smooth.  For more inspiration, I even got to watch one of my all-time favorite movies - Grand Budapest Hotel. 



After three and a half hours, we finally arrived in Shanghai. The second we got out of the plane though, my fear became a reality--the humidity in Shanghai was unbearable! I normally do not like traveling during these months because the weather can be a bit harsh.  I could feel the humidity and heat permeating through my skin. All I wanted was to be in an air-conditioned room. Despite the bad weather, I was certain that Shanghai would deliver. I could not let this dampen our mood and spirit.


We walked to the Maglev (Magnetic Levitation) train station, which was conveniently connected to the airport.  I initially wanted to be picked up by the hotel but I did not want to miss this experience. 


The Maglev is a tourist attraction in itself. With a maximum speed of more than 400 kph, this train can bring you to the city within 8 minutes. We were only moving at 300 kph but we got to the city in 7 minutes as promised.  If we had something like the Maglev in the Philippines, we can easily build a new airport outside Manila.

From the train station, we took a cab going to our hotel in Pudong. Within the comforts of our air-conditioned cab, I wiped the sweat off my face and looked out the window as we headed to the city's central business district. We were ready to be wowed more by Shanghai.

HIGHLIGHTS

The HOTEL (Grand Hyatt Shanghai)

Shanghai for me was hotel porn. It took me forever to pick the hotel but with a twist of fate, we ended up staying in Grand Hyatt Hotel.

If you want  to be reminded of Shanghai's power, stay in Grand Hyatt for THE View.The  Grand Hyatt Hotel, located in the Jin Mao Tower, has an impressive art deco structure that has changed the skyline of Shanghai completely. This five star property is in the heart of Shanghai's futuristic Pudong district. 







The Golden Atrium of the Grand Hyatt.


They gave us a room upgrade on the 61st floor.  We had a panoramic view of the Pudong Skyline,  including the Shanghai Tower (which will soon be the tallest building in China and the second tallest in the world). 


Can anyone tell me what the writings on the wall mean?


The Bathroom.








I enjoyed doing some laps in the Indoor Sky Pool. This also has an outstanding view of the famous Oriental Pearl TV tower. You can also try the Club oasis Spa for some massage. 






Waldorf Astoria

The Waldorf Astoria on the Bund has one of the most beautiful lobbies I have seen. Raffles Singapore has the same feel -- Old World Opulence and Perfection.




My cousin Trisha and I had our brunch here after walking on the Bund. It was cliche but I tried the Waldorf salad here. Sprinkled wtth truffle, the salad became more flavorful!





The Views

The Bund. This is Shanghai's pride and symbol. You cannot skip walking on the Bund when you go to Shanghai. All those old and beautiful buildings made me so envious. I was again thinking about how we could transform our beloved Manila into something like this.


















The thick smog now envelopes Shanghai's Skyline. Beijing has a serious air pollution problem too, which needs to be addressed soon.


The Bund lights up like a Jewel at Night.


Nanjing Road - Stretching 3.4 miles from the Bund, this is Shanghai's premier shopping district. After the Opium Wars in the early 1800s, Nanjing Road became the first British Concession, making it one of China's earliest shopping areas. Here, you can find unique and traditional goods that you can bring home. 


I had idea no what these were.


Roof Top Bars.

When you go to Shanghai, make sure you hit one of the Roof Top Bars. Sir Elly's Terrace in Peninsula Shanghai has a unique U-shape terrace bar that offers guests a 270-degree views of the Huangpu River and Pudong Skyline. 

Try Sir Elly's Signature Cocktail.

Another popular bar is Flair at the Ritz Carlton. Located on the 58th floor of the Ritz Carlton, Flair serves Asian Tapas and raw seafood. The food we had here was just okay but the the spectactular view of the Oriental Pearl TV tower made our visit worth it.






With the best Company in Shanghai.

The FOOD.

Yang Fang. Our food trip in Shanghai was one of highlights. We had the best hotpot from Yang Fang in the most exquisite setting in Xintiandi - one of my favorite districts in Shanghai. 






I did not expect eating hotpot could be this classy. Our waiters wore white gloves and everything they served looked beautiful.







Finally, I got to try the Geoduck, a popular saltwater clam.




Hakkasan on the Bund. We decided to have an impromptu lunch here after our brunch at the Waldorf. Located in Bund 18, Hakkasan offers a wonderful dining experience in Shanghai. It has three different dining spaces fit for any occasion.



The Ling Ling lounge has the best view of Shanghai's skyline.

I could not say anything bad about the dishes we ate in Hakkasan. With a Michelin-starred Chef (Tong Chee Hwee)  that heads the kitchen, you will not be disappointed. We took advantage of the Hakka Bund Weekend Special - which had everything from appetizer to dessert.

We started with the Crispy Duck Salad - with pomelo, pine nut and shallot.

Kowloon Cooler  (non-alcholic) . Strawberries, blackberrries, lychee, apple, cranberry juice and lemonade! This was a refreshing drink after the unwelcoming humidity and heat at lunchtime.

A combination of three steamed dimsum.

A combination of three fried and baked dim sum.

Siomai.

Mixology Magic. Our waiter gave us free cocktails in this mixer.

For the mains, we had the Grilled Chilean seabass in Chinese honey and Stir fry black pepper Angus (not in picture).

The Desserts. Five spice caramel apple - Green Apple Puree and Ginger Ice Cream.
Chocolate Sphere - Oranges, salted Caramel Sauce.
Dragon Well Green Tea.

When they told me the Chef was giving free macarons, it felt like my birthday!
Mr and Mrs Bund


So far, Mr and Mrs Bund has been one of my most unforgettable dinners. With all its awards, I am not surprised why this restaurant is packed every night. It opened in 2009 headed by Chef Paul Pairet. MMBund is part of San Pellegrino's best restaurants in the world. 




I was not able to take pictures of all the food because my friends were in a hurry to leave for the airport. Just take my word for it, everything we had was magical. Oysters. Escargot. Foie Gras. Duck. Lamb.










Amazing food plus his view -- How can you go wrong?





The Spa Experience

On my last day, I had a massage at the Spa in Mandarin. It has recently won "The Best SPA award" in Shanghai. 


The Lobby.









If you look closely, the white ones are actually butterflies. Mandarin has 8,888 of these butterflies designed by a famous artist. It signifies change. 

I had a one-hour massage here before our flight. I experienced Mandarin Oriental at its finest here. the staff made me feel like a prince from the moment I stepped inside the spa grounds.




The relaxing waiting area. 

My massage started with aromatherapy. My therapist made me smell this oil before the start of my massage. Next thing I knew, my mind and body were so relaxed that I  had already drifted away to dreamland. Normally, I do not fall asleep when I get a massage. When I do, the therapist must have done something right. This was the best way to end our trip.

Overall, my first trip in Shanghai exceeded my expectations. Despite the crappy weather, I fell in love with this city and everything it had to offer. It was a short weekend trip but we made the most out of it. 

I have a feeling I'll be going back to this city sooner that I think. 

Thank you again, Philippine Airlines for this! 

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