Our flight leaving Vancouver was delayed by an hour with electronic issues, so we had a bit of a wait before making our long flight ( 12 hours) to Shanghai. Once again I was seated with Allynand as it turned out he was my seat mate for all our Air Canada flights. Allyn was perhaps the oldest in our group, but he kept up with the group without any problems. Allyn continues to work as a pastor despite being a few years beyond retirement age. During our trip we found he could play the piano so we made good use of his talents while on board the cruise ship.
I don’t think many of us slept on the flight over so we were a pretty tired bunch when we arrived. The Shanghai airport was pretty easy to navigate and we didn’t have to go far to claim our luggage.In fact we felt quite at home as we quickly spotted a KFC. We had a bit of a wait as one of our group, found they were missing a suitcase. Air Canada eventually was able to locate the suitcase and promised it would be delivered the following day ( which it was.) We all passed through immigration without difficulty and made our way out to our waiting guide….. Michael Hai. Michael is employed by Shanghai East Travel Co which was contracted by China Pac to be our guide for our entire tour. If we could have hand picked someone we could not have done better. Some members of our group had been to China and said Michael was by far the best guide they encountered.By the end of our 18 days we felt we had a new friend, son or grandson. He was a very gracious host and also acted as our local guide for Shanghai.
We trekked to a waiting bus where we off loaded our suitcases ( which were going by snail bus to the hotel) while we boarded the Maglev bound for Shanghai.The Maglev is a magnetic levitation train. It is the first commercially operated high speed magnetic levitation line in the world. The top speed is 431 km/hr. making it the world’s fastest train in regular service. During a test run on Nov 12, 2003 it went 501 km/hr. It cost 1.2 billion US dollars to build and was completed ( 34 miles) in under 3 years. There are plans for expansion but they have been put on hold twice.
When we walked out of the train terminal we were hit with the smells of the street vendors and it was smelling pretty good and made a great first impression. We got on a bus to take us to our first dinner in Shanghai. All of us were agog with the maze of traffic, buses, cars, scooters, bicycles and pedestrians all sharing the same space. It seems the six lanes of traffic were trying to accommodate 8 lanes of traffic and as Michael explained, traffic signals and laws are treated simply as a suggestion. We all agreed we could not drive in China and 18 days later, no one had changed their mind. On the bus ride to dinner we passed miles and miles of high rise buildings. The high density housing has to be seen to be believed.As we neared the city center and the financial district of Pudong, we were impressed with the beautiful buildings lit up at night, making for a great first impression of this very modern city. Chinese say Xian is old China, Beijing it today’s China and Shanghai the city of the future.
Our guide Michael explained the meal set ups for us. We could expect our hotels would provide a buffet breakfast which will be a combination of western and Chinese food. Lunch and dinner would be served “ Lazy Susan” style with the food placed in the center of the table and one simply turns the table to be able to reach your wanted item. The table settings included chopsticks, forks ( sometimes you had to ask for them) a small plate about the size of a bread and butter plate, a small bowl, a small cup ( no handle) and a glass. Our meals included a beverage and the choice was local beer, Pepsi, Seven Up or water and of course Chinese tea.( It became obvious during our trip the Pepsi Company likely arrived in China first.) While Coke products could be found, you had to go looking for them. Most meals started with the arrival of a large bowl of rice followed by several other dishes some containing small amounts of pork or chicken, a fish dish ( usually carp so too boney for most of us) dishes of cooked veggies. Soup was often served second to last. You knew the food delivery was done when the watermelon came out. I think only twice did we get something other than watermelon…of course the cruise was buffet style so I don’t count that.
After our dinner we board the bus bound for our Shanghai hotel, the Jin Jiang Hotel. We were glad to have our luggage waiting and we all quickly our room keys and head to our room. Upon entering the room, one of the room keys must be inserted into a slot just inside the door, to keep the power flowing. I read about this in the book I read on the plane over, so it wasn’t a surprise. Our luggage arrived quickly and it wasn’t long before we settled into the king sized bed. The book I read, explained Chinese like their beds hard and after several hotels…I can attest to that. A full day awaits.