Sunday, May 20, 2018

Letter from Shanghai :-)

Dear Andrew

Day 1
I hope you are having a pleasant trip, on your own, back to Laos.  It isn’t everyone who can say they flew all the way to China, only to be denied entry to the country because they didn’t bring the correct identification with them.

Yes I know you have 2 versions of your APEC card; an interim one without China on it, and the final one with China permission on it.  But really, trying to enter China without the China permission – that was simply not going to go well for you.
aprc card

I did think all the immigration police we met were very kind.  There was the nice young man who went and got us a tray of food while we sat (with obligatory guard) for ages in the immigration ‘holding pen’ watching all the other travellers passing through immigration.  And the other young man who escorted you down to the Air Asia desk to buy a cheap fare back to Bangkok, a mere 4.5 hours flying time away.  And by the sound of your messages, the one who sat by your side until you boarded your plane in departures, was also very nice.

After I left you at the airport I got a taxi into Shanghai.  Of course I had expected to be doing that closer to 2:30am rather than 5:30am – but you can’t always plan for you husband not bringing the correct documentation.  So by the time I got to the hotel nearly an hour and 160 RMB later,  I didn't really feel like having a nap.  So I had read, then a shower, and put on clean clothes to go and visit the my colleagues in the China company office. 

You would have liked the clean streets and wide open spaces of the upmarket business district.  And you would have enjoyed looking in the supermarket (including seeing some Whittakers chocolate)  Being a bit tired, I grabbed some bits from the supermarket for dinner and made it through to the end of the day.
Shanghai

Day 2

Dear Andrew

I’m sure you would have liked the view from our/my apartment balcony – but you can look out over Vientiane, now that you are home again.  I am surprised with the amount of low-rise accommodation.  The high rises are there, but there is some distance to them. 
shanghai skyline
In a conversation this evening I was told that while the official population is capped at 25 million people, there are unofficially 28 million people living in the environs.  But in the limited areas I have been, there was not ultra-high population density.  In fact central Hong Kong has a much more crowded feel than central Shanghai.

I walked down to the Shanghai Museum – it is shaped like a Chinese eating vessel.  You would have particularly liked the free exhibition of items from Tate Britain currently on short-term display.  The ceramics were also nice, but I was disappointed that the bronzes gallery was closed for renovation.  So I guess you didn’t miss the Bronzes, by not being here.


shanghai museum

And I wandered onto the shopping strip along Nanjing Road.  Apart from the increasing number of people about, I could have been anywhere in the world looking at the international brands…Apple, Zara, H&M….

I have managed both days so far to wander around with food spilled on my clothing.  Yesterday I poured coffee down my blouse and basically wandered around all day like that.  Of course travelling by yourself, your non-existent companion doesn't worry about that.  Today while enjoying dumplings I managed to squirt meat juices on my blouse – but only a greasy mark of about an inch – much easier to camouflage than the foot print sized coffee stain yesterday.  The various dumplings here are delicious. 

Having no one to eat with, I have booked myself on a Food tour.  You would enjoyed walking to 5 five different cuisines.  And the last one with a lamb and cumin dishes from the North Western areas would really have appealed to you.  Of course you would have enjoyed the free flowing beers and shots of baijiu, the Chinese national liquor.  While your roast chicken sounded pleasant, Sichuan, Cantonese, Ningbo  and Uighur cuisine was a more interesting option.  The tour started at 6pm I finally got back to the apartment after 10.  Quite a nice evening ‘by myself’


shanghai food
Day 3

Today I finally made it down to the Bund, where it was a bit misty.  While you would have enjoyed watching the boats and people, I quite enjoyed being able to walk where I wanted and leave when I had had enough of people and boats. 

bund_


I headed off to the former French concession area and walked until I couldn’t walk anymore.  By the end of the day my phone said I had walked over 21km – maybe you wouldn't have liked that.  But it was a shame you missed the tree lined streets and nice looking houses, boutiques, and restaurants.  

french
It is also good you are not here because you wouldn’t have liked the electric bikes which arrive silently, then the drivers go where they want regardless of the traffic signals.  No amount of your glaring and sending dirty looks, would have dealt to that issue.


Having seen the Bund in the morning light it was also on the agenda to see it again in the dark with the lights from the new Pudong area illuminated.  I know you would have enjoyed it because you were exceedingly jealous when I face-timed you and gave you a view on video feed.  Pictures were probably not quite like actually being there.  But if you cant bring your documentation, you have to miss out on such fun experiences.  


shanghai night
shanghai night 2
Day 4
I had a relaxed morning with a bit of neighbourhood exploration before getting on the metro to the airport.  I was going to change to the Maglev train, but at 50 rmb vs 5 rmb for the same journey, I decided to forgo travelling on the fastest passenger train in the world.  Maybe if I return to Shanghai, I might do it next time…  


Efficiently through the airport, and onto the flight down to Kuala Lumpur.  I had an “Andrew” moment at KL airport while trying to work out how to walk to the nearby Tune hotel where we have stayed before.  I wandered up and down the terminal for nearly 30 minutes before I realised I was in KLIA terminal and the walk was from the KLIA2 terminal.  But a quick ride on the shuttle train between terminals and in 2 minutes I was off to the hotel.  An overnight sleep and then up at 4:30am for the 6:30am flight back to Vientiane.  And back to work before 10 am.


I am looking forward to the trip you are planning for us to return in July.   I don't think you will bring the wrong ID on a trip again Smile 

lots of love
Paula




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