Sunday 27 October 2019

Oh Hai, Shanghai

Hello! We're back from our trip to Japan, and I'm extremely behind in blogging. I'm skipping 2018 altogether, and I'm fast forwarding to our first trip this year to keep up with the momentum, and also my memory.

We went to Shanghai in May, and we had an amazing time! Despite the travel advisory, which had come out after we booked our trip, we felt very safe in the city and we had no problems during our time there. The Chinese were generally very welcoming. The food was delicious and the Metro system was extremely easy to use. We were able to get a lot of things done this trip, including Shanghai Disneyland and a cruise.

Our trip to Shanghai was completely spontaneous. This trip basically served as our honeymoon. We were looking for an overseas destination, and Shanghai came up on our radar with extremely low flight fares. We booked on a whim before doing any research. Getting a China visa was not an easy task. As we previously did not apply for our Vietnam visa on our own, we didn't quite know where and how to start. I don't recall the small details of our application for our Chinese Visa as it was done ten months ago, but I'll review it briefly below.

Getting Our Chinese Visas

There are quite a few steps to take to complete your application: a ten page application form, visa photo, supporting accommodation documents, etc... But after you've submitted your paperwork, it is a short wait (less than five business days) to receive your actual visa. The visa is label that is placed into your passport, so yes, you do have to submit your passport to the service centre. If you've done everything correctly, you will have no delays. It is important to note that you can only apply for your visa three months before your departure date, so be sure to submit all the correct information. You can make an appointment to visit the China Visa Application Service Centre, but expect waits of up to three hours. As previously mentioned, you need to ensure you have all the supporting documents (listed on the website) with you, or you will be asked to return on another day. The most commonly missed item is a photocopy of your passport. A lot of people didn't have this. They do have a photocopier at the service centre, but you have to pay, it jams often and there is a long line for it (probably contributing to the overall long waits). Aside from the long wait, we had a positive experience at the Vancouver branch. We opted for the ten-year visa as the cost was the same (~$150 Canadian), but it is only valid up to the year your passport expires, so my visa expires in eight years.

One of our main reasons we decided to go to Shanghai was, of course, to visit Disneyland Shanghai. The park is relatively new, as it was just built in 2016. We decided to start our trip in Disneyland. So without further ado, let me jump right in!

Shanghai Disneyland Park

We arrived on a rather cold and foggy day. The haze in the sky was thick as the sun was barely visible. We stayed in the Disneyland hotel for easy access to the park. The Shanghai Disneyland Hotel is by far the most affordable Disney hotel anywhere in the world. The details in the decor were ~magical, and the rooms were spacious and elegant.

We were extremely jet lagged, but we needed dinner. So after settling into our hotel room, we immediately took the ferry over to Disneytown. The ferry stop on the hotel side is just through the Wishing Star Park, we could see the Enchanted Storybook Castle on the other side (below right) as we waited.

The stop on the other side of the lake is just steps away from the entrance to Disneyland. Disneytown was a good size. It is not a big shopping area like the two in the US, but it had enough shops and restaurants to keep you busy for half a day. There were the usual shops like Nike, Sephora, Pandora, LEGO and World of Disney; and some Asian based stores like BAPE, Superdry and innisfree. 

We walked around for a little while to check out the stores and eventually, we had to pick a spot for dinner. All the restaurants either had a huge lineup or no lineup. We decided on a cantonese restaurant with a moderate line, and an English menu. The food was okay, nothing special, but it was cheap and it filled our tummies. After dinner, we lined up for bubble tea before heading back to the hotel on the ferry. Coming up next: Disneyland!