Steamy Shanghai - 7th July 2008 @ 3:07 pm «   »

Location: China, Shanghai : Steamy Shanghai

The train pulled into Shanghai Railway Station around 15:00 Thursday afternoon and we took the Metro to a hotel we found in the Lonely Planet. They turned out to be quite expensive (like most hotels in Shanghai), but nevertheless we checked in for 1 night, mainly because of the good location. While walking around the main shopping area we found a youth hostel at a much better rate, but they were fully booked and we had to be wait listed for the weekend. Thursday evening was spent walking along the Bund – Shanghai’s embankment – people and skyscraper watching.

First impression: Shanghai is very impressive, just very hot! The average temperatures are around mid 30 degrees with about 85% humidity! We don’t think we have ever sweated as much! At least all buildings are airconditioned, but walking on the streets you constantly have to dogde the water literally spraying from ancient aircon units. There are loads of foreigners in the city (an unusual site for us at this stage) – even more than in Beijing.

Friday morning we got up early to visit the Yu Yuan Garden before we had to check out of the hotel. It is a tranquil Chinese garden with beautiful ponds, stone bridges and bonsai trees. The area around the garden is full of little souvenir shops, traditional tea houses and stalls selling steamed buns (delicious!). We ended up buying a stunning (but fairly big) photo album that Jan is carrying in his suitcase at the moment. When we went back to the hostel they had some cancellations so were able to check us in for the remaining 3 nights.

That evening we went to the New Pudong area – the business district south of the river with many new, modern buildings. It is possible to take a “tourist sightseeing tunnel” under the river to the other side, but as this is very commercialised and cost a small fortune, we decided to do it the local way and took the commuter ferry across (this time we were the only 2 white faces in sight and only 1 Yuan for both us!). We then went straight to the Jin Mao tower. Until 2007 it was the tallest building in China (420m high with 88 storeys), the fifth tallest in the world by roof height and the seventh tallest by pinnacle height. The views of the city were amazing from the observation deck and we got some great night photos.

Saturday was a relaxing day and we spent most of the day indoors trying to escape the scorching 37 degrees outside!

On Sunday, our last day in Shanghai, we joined the rest of the Chinese tourists and went on one of the fastest trains in the world – the Maglev Train that goes to Pudong International Airport. The train can reach 350 km/h in 2 minutes, with a maximum speed in normal operation of 431 km/h and takes 7 minutes and 20 seconds to complete the 30km journey. It was something to watch the cars on the highway next to us – it almost seemed like they were standing still! Like the other tourists, we got off at the airport, just to get onto the next Maglev train back to the city.

We left Shanghai on a fast train to Hangzhou (about 200km away) this morning at 09:30.

If you can’t see the slideshow above click here.

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