December 22'nd 2013 - January 3'rd 2014
Sunday, December 22’nd
Fuck – what a start on a vacation. I leave Aarhus at 2 pm heading for Copenhagen. However, the train stops shortly before Odense. There is a bomb-thread at the railway station in Odense, so we can’t go any further. We stay there for 4 hours. I have no chance to catch my flight to Shanghai at 8 pm.
When we finally reach Odense, I get off the train and returns to Aarhus. I thing that was it – no vacation this time.
Monday, December 23’rd
First thing, this morning is calling my insurance company to see if I can get a refund of the ticket. I can not – but they have a surprise for me. Since it was not my mistake they will give me a ticket to Shanghai with first available flight. Great respect. So they start to book me another route, leaving Copenhagen on the 24’th to Shanghai via Doha with Qatar Airlines. What the fuck – why not – I think. The make the booking of the ticket, I re-book my hotel and start to re-pack again.
I take the train late afternoon to Copenhagen. I sleep at the Cab Inn close to the airport. I don’t get much sleep this night – this has been a little to exiting.
Tuesday, December 24’th
The start of this trip has been a little too hectic. I am having trouble sleeping, and that’s not good before a long trip.
It is easy to get to the airport. I arrive at 7.30 – 3 hours ahead of takeoff. I check in, and find myself a place where I can relax.
At 10.25 a full Dreamliner from Qatar Airlines leave for Doha. It is a 6-hour ride. It is 6 pm as we land. The airport in Doha is big and international. The only strange thing is that the number of men wearing long gowns is bigger than normal.
It is Christmas Eve so a decent meal is needed. That will be a ribsteak with fries and a salad. No alcohol though in this place. Then I try to find a quiet corner for some rest before the next stint.
Wednesday, December 25’th
Qatar Airlines Boing 777 leaves for Shanghai at 1.15 am. and it takes about 8 hours. I do get a little sleep, but nothing much. The usual choice between chicken and fish at 3 am is a little inappropriate.
I arrive in Shanghai at 2 pm local time. After picking up my luggage and immigration-check, I get a taxi to the hotel. It is about 40 km to downtown, but it only cost about 35 US $. The temperature is 8 degrees Celsius, and the smog level is “very unhealthy”. The smog is hanging thick over downtown Shanghai.
Inside Astor House Hotel, I discover that this is above my normal standard. A Bellboy is picking up my luggage in the taxi, there are five people involved in check-in, before the Bellboy take my luggage all the way to my “executive-room” 201.
Now it is time for a shower and a nap in a very nice bed. I do not get much sleep before someone knocks on the door. They just want to give me a little fruit-basket and the weather-report for tomorrow. There is a reason people like Charlie Chaplin and Albert Einstein stayed here.
In the evening, I head out for my first walk. It is a short one. Just across the bridge to The Bund, with old British colonial buildings on one side and the river Huangpu on the other. On the other side of the river, you can see the skyscrapers at Pudong. It is a spectacular sight, and I am not the only one enjoying it.
Dinner is at a café in the Hotel Lobby, before I head up to my room 201.
Thursday, December 26’th
This hotel is fantastic. I start with breakfast in Peacock Hall, where everything you can imagine is available. You will find the classic bacon and egg concept but also more adventurous Chinese dishes. The room is amazing. There is a spectacular glass roof hanging high above us. The service is great too. You do not have to wait long for more coffee.
That is a good start before the first trip of the day. The smog-index is above 400 and is considered “dangerous”. I take the chance and head out anyway, even though you can hardly see more than 50 meters. They must do something about this. The trip is off the beaten track in the Hongkou-area.
Everywhere you see old Chinese areas being destroyed and rebuilt with huge skyscrapers in glass and steel. Today’s trip takes me to the old Jewish neighborhood. First I take a look at the old synagogue Ohel Moishe, and then I walk up and down some local streets not yet modernized. Then I head over to the Buddhist temple called Xiahai Miao. It’s very nice, and they burn a lot of incense, as a supplement to the smog.
Then I head back to the Hotel for a break in my Executive room on my Executive floor. There is free coffee in the Executive Bar. It’s a good thing to be an Executive in China.
Trip no. 2 is shorter. It is along a canal that in other places would be called a sewer. Then I hang out in the shopping areas at Nanjing Road. In the back you can see a glimpse of what is supposed to be Pudong.
Dinner is once again at the hotel, coffee is in the Executive Bar and English football is on channel 52.
Friday, December 27’th
It is cold and reasonable smog-free this morning, so it’s to go high. Some of the highest buildings in the world is located just opposite the river – in the area known as Pudong.
But first I will have to get there. That is through a weird tunnel under the river. It called a sightseeing tunnel, and you board some cars that normally would belong in a theme-park and then take the ride under the river. Some designers without teacher control have decorated the tunnel. It’s very weird.
20 years ago, Pudong was nothing – just marsh – and no buildings. Now there are huge skyscrapers all over, thousands of people work here, shopping centres, hotels and much more. I start with the most famous building. The Pearl Tower it is called. It is 468 meters high, with 3 different levels for viewing.
Down again I head down to the river. There are many ships on the river. Some of them are very old – and I think that some of the pollution in Shanghai must come from these ships.
Then I head on to more skyscrapers. The 2 tallest is Jinmao Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center. I can’t find the entrance to the viewing platform at Jinmao, so I head for SWFC. I get up to the 100’th floor. There are great views and a glass bridge you can cross. It’s a bit creepy to look straight down.
Down I get as well. I walk back to the weird sightseeing-tunnel and returns to The Bund and my hotel. There has been many highlights today – I don’t need any more.
Saturday, December 28’th
After superb breakfast, it’s out in Shanghai again. Today’s walk is down shopping-street Nanjing Road. It looks like all other shopping-streets in the world. Now and then you are attacked by local hustlers trying to sell “Rolex-watches” and “Tea-parties” to the tourists – or as they call us – those with big noses. That’s quite annoying.
At the end of Nanjing Road is Peoples Park. That’s a nice place. The locals play Mahjong og entertain their single kid in the small amusement park. Around here, you are only allowed one child.
Sunday, December 29’th
I have got a strange habit. I go to bed early and get up early to be ready for breakfast at 7.30. Rice, broccoli and cauliflower at 7.30 – that’s something new.
I have plenty of time on this trip, so I don’t have to hurry. That also gives me a chance to see things that are not on the top of the tourist-trail. Today is an example of this. First walk is pretty close to my hotel. It’s some old Chinese areas, that has yet to be torn down. The first area is Kunshan. Here are some old redstone-buildings and a nice little park, where locals come for a chat. Some bring their personal bird – a phenomenon I have seen other places in the east before. Between the houses, you can see the small alleys – known as Lilongs. Here people are washing their clothes and doing their dishes. These areas are about to disappear within a few years.
Then I continue to a market-area called Jingxi an Qipu. You can buy a lot of copy-goods around here. Very cheap Rolax-watches are for sale, and when the underwear says “Clavin Kein” I get slightly suspicious about the origin. It’s a fun area, with lots of street-kitchens as well. The locals seem to enjoy the food – I try to avoid it.
Then I head back to the hotel for a break.
In the evening, it’s time for a boat trip on river Huangpu. It’s dammed nice with Pudong on one side and The Bund on the other. Some call the areas New York (Pudong) and Europe (The Bund). Not a bad comparison. The buildings are enormous and the light is fantastic. They really like to show them off. Neon is almost dancing around some of the buildings in Pudong.
Finally it’s back to the Hotel for late dinner and a football match on the TV. As usual I go to sleep during the game.
Monday, December 30’th
Shanghai is too big to capture on foot. So I do something that I rarely do – I go by sightseeingbus.
First stop is one of Shanghai’s major sights. It’s called The Yuyuan Garden, and is an old Japanese garden in Shanghai’s old town. It was made in the 15’th century, and is a nice and exiting place for a stroll. There’s a bazaar around the place that is not nearly as interesting. It’s like walking in a copy area full of crap.
Then I get onto the bus again, this time heading for Xintiandi. This was where the communist held their first congress in 1921. Almost as a symbol the area is now full of café’s and shops. Not of any interest to me.
But there’s a nice park close by. Ti’s called Fuxing Park. The signs are in Chinese, English and French. We are in the French Concession now. The park is very cozy. People – and especially old people – hang out, chatting, playing card, playing mah-jong, walking backwards (!!) og painting traditional Chinese signs on the pavement. Some kind of old school graffiti. But they paint with water, so it will soon disappear.
I stay for a couple of hours here, before heading back to my bus and getting back home.
Tuesday, December 31’st
Breakfast is Brazilian sausages, pork, bacon, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, rice, croissant, cookie, watermelon, banana, coffee and juice – that’s what I call a start of the day – and you can skip the lunch.
Then I’m off into the hassle and dazzle of Shanghai. Never have I seen so many people in one place and never have I seen so many bikes, scooters, motorcycles, cars, busses and trucks. They are all over, and traffic is pure anarchy.
I take my sightseeingbus for the 2’nd day. Today I visit two Buddhist Temples. The first one is Jing’an. It’s very much in busy downtown. It’s very nice and colourful. The original was from 247 a.c., but it has been destroyed several times due to fire. This version is from 1851. During the culture-revolution it was used as a plastic-factory.
Then on to another one. This one is Jade Buddha Temple. It’s located in a residential area. Things are more worn here. In the back yard there’s a fine fishing pond, where people come for feeding the fish. They go absolute berserk when food is coming. The highlight is the Jade Buddha figure, imported from Myanmar.
The evening is – yes of course – new years eve. They put on a spectacular show on The Bund. Hundreds of thousands of people gather here for lasershow and fireworks. It’s very impressive. They save the most impressive for the finale. When the official part is over, the locals start to make their Chinese lanterns flying across the city. That is some view.
Wednesday, January 1’st
I was a bit late yesterday, so I am close to oversleeping, but I do reach the breakfast just before closing time.
The tourist-thing is moved to the afternoon. It’s a “classic walk” through some central parts of Shanghai. First along The Bund. There are many fine buildings; most of them build by the British between 1900 and 1920. Now they are banks and designershops. Outside one of them a Bentley and a Lamborghini is parked. Some people have money around here.
The walk back is just a few blocks from The Bund, but in a very different neighbourhood. This is Chinese area with street-cocking, bicycles and Lilongs. I walk into some of the Lilongs. People don’t have much privacy here. The door is often a curtain, and the number of tourists is limited. The kids say “hello” when they see someone with a big nose.
Break at the hotel before dinner. I skip the good but pricey café at the hotel, and head for a local food-joint, with decent food for 3 $. Then I head back to the hotel for some English football on the TV.
Thursday, January 2’nd
It’s almost like spring in Shanghai this morning. Up to 15 degrees Celsius. I have been quite lucky with the weather on this trip. The smog is another story. One good day, one miserable and the rest pretty bad. It must be hell living here.
This is my first day with public transport. That’s pretty stupid since it’s both cheap and easy to use. Metro 1 and 2 takes me from East Nanjing to Hengshan in French Concession. It’s about 50 cents. From Hengshan I take a Lonely Planet recommended walk around French Concession. No spectacular sights, but a nice walk anyway. Some places the areas are very modern, with houses in steel and glass. Then around the corner you are in a traditional area, with lots of people hanging out – steet-kitchens, bicycles etc.
No matter where you walk, you will have to watch out closely in traffic. The red signal means nothing, so always look around before you cross the road.
My walk ends at South Shanxi Road, where I take the metro back to Nanjing Road and a short walk back to the hotel. As usual at the end of a trip, I have gone a little cold. So the rest of the day is spend at the hotel only interrupted by a trip to my new food-joint round the corner. Room 201 has the best sofa in the world – I wish I could take it back home.
Friday, January 3’rd
I get up early and it’s an early breakfast. Then a taxi to Langyang station. From here, there’s a special train to the airport. It’s called Maglev and runs on a magnetic field. It’s the only one in the world. It’s fast. About 300 km/hour and the trip to Pudong airport is done in 7 minutes.
At check in I get upgraded to Economy Plus on my SAS plane. It’s a little more comfortable than Monkey – but anyway 12 hours back home is a long haul. But it gives me the chance to watch 3 movies – Rush (excellent), The Sting (old and excellent) and Runner Runner (poor). We land in Kastrup at 6.15 local time, and then it takes another hour before I see my luggage again. I reach the 7.50 train to Aarhus – sleeping most of the way.