arrival in shanghai & a visit to jing’an si

Thursday, April 30:  It’s another three-day holiday weekend in China, so I decide at the last-minute to fly to Shanghai.  This holiday is International Workers’ Day, also known as Labour Day, and celebrates laborers and the working classes.  The holiday is promoted by the international labor movement, anarchists, socialists and communists.

While I’ve been in China, I’ve taken advantage of every national holiday to travel, and of course, when I do, I have to move with the rest of the country.  It’s no fun traveling on a tidal wave of nearly 1.4 billion people, and after this holiday, I decide I’m done.  I will take several more trips, but not again on a holiday weekend.  I finally have come to understand why my colleagues who have been here for years don’t want to bother traveling on the national holidays.  I’ve finally reached that point of saturation myself.

My journey doesn’t start well.  As I’m walking to the main gate of the university to catch a taxi to the airport, the skies open up in a torrential downpour, and even walking under an umbrella, my jean jacket, suitcase and the entire bottom of my pants below the knee get drenched.  Inside the taxi, and later in the airport, I’m shivering because my clothes are wet, and they seem to take forever to dry.

While I’m sitting in the airport, the skies open up again, accompanied by roaring thunder, vicious lightning strikes, sheets of rain, and howling winds.  No preparations are underway for boarding and I know the storms will hold us up.  Sure enough, the flight is delayed 1 1/2 hours due to the ferocious storms.  My flight was to leave at 6:20 p.m., but instead we leave at nearly 8:00, meaning I will arrive in Shanghai at around 10:30.

While I sit shivering in the airport, reading about Shanghai in the torn-out pages of my Lonely Planet China, a Chinese girl sits beside me talking on her mobile phone for three straight hours.  So annoying!

My flights for this trip were not too expensive, but they’re a little convoluted.  I fly into Pudong International Airport, 40 km east of the city, on China Southern, and I fly out from the old Hongqiao Airport, 15 km west of the city, on Juneyao Airlines.  Since my flight out on Monday is early in the morning, I book a hotel, the Pentahotel, closest to the Hongqiao Airport, on the west side of the city.  This means when I arrive at Pudong, I have a very long taxi ride to my hotel.

When I’m making my way out of the airport, the usual suspicious-looking characters approach with “deals” to take me to my hotel.  One driver tells me he will take me for 150 yuan.  I think that price surely must be outrageous, even though I know it is a long way to the hotel.  He points to the taxi queue down below us, and I can see it’s extraordinarily long, but I figure I should try to be thrifty for once and stand in the queue.  It turns out I stand in the queue for nearly an hour.  Then, the metered taxi ride to my hotel takes just under another hour, and it costs — take a guess! — 150 yuan!!  I would have been better off taking the first man’s offer!  So frustrating.

When I go to pay the taxi driver his 150 yuan, all I have is two 100 yuan bills.  He tries to leave without giving me change.  Luckily, a hotel staff person is standing there as I tell him he owes me 50 yuan.  He gives me a 20. I continue to hold out my hand, and he sheepishly hands me another 20.  Finally, I thrust my hand in his face again, waiting for last 10, and he grudgingly hands it over.  Argh!!  I love how people always try to rip me off, especially since I’m a Westerner!  They seem to think we’re all made of money.  Believe me, as a teacher in China, I am certainly NOT made of money.

Finally, after my arduous journey, I’m rewarded by an amazing room at the Pentahotel.  The hotel has a wonderful restaurant and bar downstairs, and my room is excellent.  There is a bathtub, a rare bonus in China, and the bed is the most comfortable bed I’ve slept in during my entire time here.  I arrive shortly after midnight and plan to sleep as late as I need to. I have three full days to explore Shanghai, and although I’ll barely make a dent in China’s largest city, I can at least get a feel for what it’s like.

My room at the pentahotel in shanghai

My room at the pentahotel in shanghai

Friday, May 1: In the morning, I wake up to blue skies and the forecast is good.  This is my view out my hotel window.

the view out my window ~ first sight of Shanghai

the view out my window ~ first sight of Shanghai

The breakfast buffet at the hotel is a smorgasbord of Western and Chinese food.  For 50 yuan, I pile my plate with fried rice, dumplings, sautéed mushrooms, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, orange juice, and coffee.  On CNN News, reporters talk about the Baltimore curfews, protests and arrests following the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man, while in police custody.  I’m surprised to see this news here in Shanghai.  It really is a small world.

the restaurant at the pentahotel

the restaurant at the pentahotel

After breakfast, my stomach is not feeling so good.  I don’t know what is wrong with me and the food in China, but we definitely do not agree with one another.  I am here in Shanghai to explore, however, so I am not going to let these stomach problems keep me down.  I head out to the metro station right around the corner from my hotel, the Zhongshan Park metro station, line 2.  I walk through endless corridors filled with shops and I’m amazed at how the Chinese use every inch of space for commerce.  Underground passageways are always filled with shops in China, even in Nanning.  There is nothing like this in the Washington, D.C. metro system.  In these corridors full of shops, there are also restrooms, although they’re not particularly nice ones.  I do appreciate this, however.  I believe all metro stations everywhere should have public toilets.

Line 2 is packed with people, and I stand holding on to a dangling handhold, unable to move in any direction.   It’s so claustrophobic!  My intention is to go directly to the Bund, but instead, I want to escape the crowds, so I get off at Jing’an Si (temple).   When I get out of the metro, I’m greeted by an Old Navy store, occupying a busy corner.

the intersection near Jing'an Si

the intersection near Jing’an Si

I look all around for the temple and finally see it, barely, nestled in the midst of modern high-rises.

the rooftops of Jing'an Si

the rooftops of Jing’an Si, nestled in among the high-rises

At this bustling temple, incense is burning, monks are praying, people are bowing with incense offerings and tourists are milling about, posing for all manner of pictures.

Incense burner at Jing'an Si

Incense burner at Jing’an Si

According to Wikipedia, the temple was first built in 247 AD during the Three Kingdoms period of ancient China. Originally located beside Suzhou Creek, it was relocated to its current site in 1216 during the Song dynasty.  The current temple was rebuilt in the Qing dynasty, but during the Cultural Revolution, it was converted into a plastic factory. In 1983, it was returned to its original purpose and renovated, with the Jing’an Pagoda completed in 2010 (Wikipedia: Jing’an Temple).

the main hall and incense burner of Jing'an Si

the main hall and incense burner of Jing’an Si

The temple, known as the Temple of Peace and Tranquility, boasts the longest history of any religious structure in Shanghai. Prior to 1949, it was Shanghai’s richest Buddhist monastery, presided over by the Abbott of Bubbling Well Road, Khi Vehdu.  He was a gangster-like figure who kept seven mistresses and a White Russian bodyguard.  The temple is also the headquarters for the Mi Sect, a Chinese Buddhist discipline that was all but extinct until it was reintroduced from Japan in 1953 (Shanghai: Jing An Si (Jing An Temple)).

the main prayer hall at Jing'an Si

the main prayer hall at Jing’an Si



Monks in prayer

Monks in prayer

Jing'an Si in Shanghai

Jing’an Si in Shanghai

Today’s Southern-style main halls are all recent renovations using Burmese teak (Shanghai: Jing An Si (Jing An Temple)).

Buddha at Jing'an Si

Buddha at Jing’an Si

Buddha at Jing'an Si

Buddha at Jing’an Si

Paintings at Jing'an Si

Paintings at Jing’an Si

Paintings at Jing'an Si

Paintings at Jing’an Si

Wooden buildings behind the main temple at Jing'an Si

Wooden buildings behind the main temple at Jing’an Si

Porcelain relief

Porcelain relief

relief sculpture

relief sculpture

Buddha at Jing'an Si

Buddha at Jing’an Si

At Jing'an Si

At Jing’an Si

at Jing'an Si

at Jing’an Si

corridor in Jing'an Si

corridor in Jing’an Si

Courtyard at Jing'an Si

Courtyard at Jing’an Si

Laughing Buddha at Jing'an Si

Laughing Buddha at Jing’an Si

Jing'an Si nestled among the skyscrapers of modern Shanghai

Jing’an Si nestled among the skyscrapers of modern Shanghai

Laughing Buddha

Laughing Buddha

View over Jing'an Si

View over Jing’an Si

flying eaves at Jing'an Si

flying eaves at Jing’an Si

After I finish exploring all the nooks and crannies of this temple, I head back to the metro, where I get off at the East Nanjing station.  From here, I’ll head down to the waterfront to see the famous Bund.

Categories: Asia, China, Holidays, International Workers' Day, Jing'an Si, Pentahotel, Pudong International Airport, Shanghai, Travel | Tags: , , , | 19 Comments

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19 thoughts on “arrival in shanghai & a visit to jing’an si

  1. I think you will have seen all of China, or at least the southern (?) portion of China by the time you leave. Leaving time is only a couple of weeks away, isn’t it?


    • Carol, I think I’ve traveled more in China than most of my colleagues who have been here for years, and more than most Chinese people I know! Of course, it’s a huge country and there is still tons to see, but I can’t see everything. There are still things in America I haven’t seen! It’s now down to 10 days remaining. I’m really ready to go home. I just have to finish my blasted marking! 🙂


  2. I’ve seen the major places I wanted to see, Carol, but as you know China’s a big country and I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg. I tried to take advantage of my time here as best I could, but since I had to work most of the time, I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked. My flight is on the morning of Wednesday, July 15, so I have less than two weeks now! A lot of papers to mark though, starting tomorrow.


  3. Weren’t you lucky to have unpolluted skies to photograph in Shanghai? and to get such a nice hotel room!


    • That hotel was fabulous. I really loved it, Gilly. As for the unpolluted skies, I was really lucky. As for the clear skies, you will see I wasn’t so lucky on my second day! It poured rain all day long. 🙂


  4. This looks much more metropolitan than some of the other areas! Each place you go looks so different.



    • Shanghai is very metropolitan, and cosmopolitan, Nancy! This is much more Westernized than any other city I’ve been to in China. I think Shanghai might be one place in which I might actually enjoy living. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That bed was a real bonus when you are planning a full itinerary, you will be able to have a good nights rest, ready for the next busy day. I know you are going to make the most of every minute. Hope the weather stayed fine for you. Again the temple and Buddhas are so photogenic. Hope the stomach problems clear up quickly…


    • That bed was fabulous, Pauline. I wish I had that bed here in Nanning, because the one I have here isn’t nearly so comfortable! I tried to make the most of my time in Shanghai, but you’ll see that on the 2nd day, all I got was pouring rain all day! And the stomach problems persisted, as they have so much of my time here in China. Luckily I’m scheduled to see a gastroenterologist when I return home; maybe he can shed some light on my problems. 🙂


  6. Gosh, you’ll love the Bund. Don’t know if you’ll get this in time- but you must try darting inside some the buildings like the Peace Hotel and even the banks, the mosaic on the ceilings and floors, art deco brass doors, amazing stuff!


    • I am so far behind in writing about my travels in China, Chief Madapple, that I’m just now getting to post about my time in Shanghai, and I was there on May 1, for the Labour Day holiday! There just aren’t enough hours in the day!! You’ll see in my most recent post that I did dip into the Peace Hotel and saw some of its elegant Art Deco interior. Thanks for the great advice!


  7. Beautiful sculptures and reliefs, Cathy! I quite fancy Shanghai but apart from that famous view of the waterfront it all looks just like a lot of high rise. You’re like a yo-yo! (a very nice yo-yo 🙂 )


    • I quite liked Shanghai especially compared to other cities on the mainland, Jo. I figured it was a place in China I could actually live as there’s a lot of Western influence there. I guess I am like a yo-yo. Going home in 7 days!!!

      Liked by 1 person

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