Well, let us start the first day. The flight to China was long and boring, because I couldn’t understand Chinese television and after 4 hour of classical music you like to do something else. But eventually, after some tiny naps, I landed at Shanghai Pudong International Airport around 08.20 in the morning.
In the travel-book I bought, I read that the journey from the airport to the center of the city could be done by Maglev train, the fastest way of public transport over land on earth. Of course I wouldn’t miss that fun, so I bought a ticket and got on board. The 30 kilometer ride is finished in less than 8 minutes, with a maximum speed of 432 km an hour! I thought the bullet-train in Japan was fast, but this is something completely different.
When I arrived at the hostel, which was easy to find with my careful prepared information, I went to sleep for a few hours in the 8 people shared room I booked. Afterwards, while sitting on the rooftop in the nice rooftop-restaurant, I met Deme, a guy from Spain who accidentally also sleeps in my room. We decide to meet this evening for dinner in the city. In the afternoon I visit the world Expo site, but unfortunately it ended last week and it is not possible to visit it anymore. I can make some pictures of the Chinese pavilion though, and some other interesting shapes structures.
In the evening James, a guy from Canada who also sleeps in our room, joins Deme and me for dinner and together we explore the city that night. Deme shows us the Old City, an old part of Shanghai with buildings that looks really nice and old, but unfortunately mostly aren’t. The ambiance is great, with all the Chinese people and no other tourists than the three of us. We also visit the Bund, the most famous and popular tourist attraction of the city. It is a boulevard with European style buildings, alongside the big river that divides the city in two parts. From the boulevard (the Bund) you can see the high-rise on the other side of the river, including the Shanghai television tower and the Shanghai World Financial Tower, the highest building of China and third highest in the world (492 meter). By night they are shining in many different colors, a beautiful sight.
I start the day with a breakfast in the rooftop restaurant, together with Deme and James. Here we meet Iris again, a nice Chinese girl who works in the restaurant and served us beer last night. A little later, James and I say goodbye to Deme because he leaves today, and we decide to visit the Bund again, this time in daylight. We also cross the river by subway and walk around in the financial center with all the impressive high-rise and an Apple store just like the one I saw in New York last year.
Around 16.00 I say goodbye to James and wait for Eva at the Shanghai Aquarium, near the Television Tower. Eva is a Chinese girl I met on the internet and she promised me to guide me around the city today. It is very nice to meet her, she knows a lot about China, speaks both Chinese and English very well, and also likes to travel. Together we visit the French concession, an area with lots of small cosy alleys (which remind me of the alleys I saw in Tokyo) with old looking French architecture. Afterwards we have a green tea ice cream (not my favourite, but Eva loves it) and walk back to the hostel. We have a lot to talk about and when I’m home it’s already 01.30. Time flies when you are having fun!
I check out the hostel around 09.30 and visit the Shanghai Urban Development Exhibition together with Eva. I already read about it in a newspaper in Holland, but the scale-model they have of the city center of Shanghai is very impressive. Even the future highest building of China is visible here, a very interesting building if you ask me. Eva and I agree to meet again after my visit to Beijing the next three days, and we say goodbye.
Because my train to Beijing leaves at 21.30 this evening there is time for some extra sightseeing together with James. We go to the Bund and take the special sightseeing tunnel with light-effects to the other side of the river. There we go to the Shanghai World Financial Center and visit the highest possible floor at 471 meter. This second highest observation point in the world gives a stunning view on he city at night. The way up is like entering a spaceship, with at least 10 Chinese people guiding us one by one, section by section, wearing gray Star Trek suits and futuristic headphones. This experience is even more futuristic because of the lights and decoration we pass. In the top of the building is the climax, when all the lights in the city create a magical feeling and a stunning view.
We get back to the hotel, I say goodbye to James and make the evening train to Beijing. The railway station is the biggest I have ever seen and the train is the best I ever travelled with. I even have my own television on board, at the end of my soft bed. Comparing this way of travelling by train with the travelling I did in India last summer, is comparing a Daihatsu Cuore (sorry Rick) with a Ferrari!
In the morning I arrive in Beijing, the city of the Olympics in 2008 and the capital of the People’s Republic of China. Compared with Shanghai, this city has much more history and cultural heritage to offer. It is like comparing Tokyo and Kyoto, or Moscow and St Petersburg, one city is important for economy and business, the other is political and historical important.
Though my bed in the train was great, I didn’t sleep very well, so first I take a little nap in the hostel. Also this time the hostel was easy to find thanks to my careful preparation, otherwise it would have been a disaster. No one here speaks any english, not even behind the information desk at the stations. Very frustrating to find out such things after waiting for 10 minutes in a line, especially when you have to be very aware of rude people who just get in line in front of you when you look an other way for 1 second, a thing that happens almost every time I line up somewhere.
I visit the Olympic site after a short nap, the amazing stadiums they made for the Olympic games of 2008. It is very busy concerning the Olympics are over for like 2 years, but I am able to make some nice pictures.