When I was told that I was going to Shanghai to test out a new short land tour I have to admit I did have to pinch myself. I have in my 16 year career been on many ships and to some fantastic destinations both as a holiday and through work but a trip to Shanghai is in a different league. Firstly the furthest I had ever flown prior to this was Florida (which I found such a long flight itself!!. Secondly I need a visa.
In fact the Visa process was really easy – I applied via our supplier Wendy Wu who we were doing the tour with. I would suggest using them if you book a package with a Wendy Wu tour included because the info pack leads you through the visa application tailored for the tour you are doing. The form was sent with my passport to Wendy Wu special Delivery and I had it back in around 1 week. When received back I took a look and couldn’t find a visa with my passport?? Until I flicked through the pages and there it was stuck onto one of the pages.
I previously posted my itinerary on this post CLICK HERE
So I booked Flights with BA from Manchester. The flight goes Via London Heathrow and isn’t too bad going out as it is a short hop to London with luggage going straight through, then around an 11 hour flight London to Shanghai. I kept myself busy watching films and chatting to my colleague Freddie who was travelling with me. I also attempted to get some sleep….which didn’t really work. Food was okay however…Breakfast around an hour before landing..The choice was English Breakfast or a Beef Conjee. Conjee is an Asian breakfast dish which is basically plain boiled rice that has been over boiled with liquid to what can only be described as baby food consistency. We just wanted the English Breakfast but were offered Conjee or Conjee….The salesmanship of the air steward was admirable telling me I could have option 1 = Conjee or option 2 = Conjee. When I inquired ‘ no English breakfast then’ her response was ‘well we have Chinese Breakfast’. Cant argue with that. Basically they had run out of the English Breakfast. We delved in, well the beef was nice I guess and the coffee satisfying. As the air steward whisked passed us she nodded ‘nice boys?’, to which we both exclaimed ‘nope’. It filled a gap prior to landing if nothing else.
After landing we quickly collected our luggage, filled in our landing card and headed through to immigration. there was a queue but we navigated that quite quickly. Now this was the first time during the trip that my new beard caused a stir. I look nothing like the clean shaved round faced figure on my passport. The Police officer behind the immigration desk looked at me a few times and asked my name a few times then smiled took my phone and stamped my passport…yay I was in China.
we went through top the arrivals hall and standing with our names on a board was our wonderful English speaking guide Kirsty. She explained that we would be travelling to the Centre of Shanghai by Maglev Train which is an 8-minute journey, as opposed to a 45 minute journey (or well over an hour dependent on traffic, shanghai is a very busy city).
I couldn’t wait to get on the Maglev which is the fastest train in the world. We got on board and Kirsty told us to sit so we could see the speed counter and also view us passing other trains – which at top speed I can tell you is amazing.
Once we alighted the Maglev in the centre of Shanghai and left the station we were met by our driver. The car was an executive vehicle with plenty of room and full leather interior – very comfortable indeed. The journey from the rail station to hotel was around 15 minutes. Drivers in China are very erratic – not much signalling and lots of beeping. Seatbelts are not compulsory in China!! Along the way Kirsty was telling us about the city and pointing out landmarks – what a great start I thought. Kirsty helped us guide helped us check in to the hotel and left us after arranging to pick us up at 9am the next day.
We were staying at The Sunrise on the Bund, which is a 5 star hotel and is very elegant – the entrance and main reception area is very grand and there are lots of dark woods throughout. Our room was really big with plenty of storage Plus an iron and full size ironing board. The room itself was big enough to have a sofa with Coffee table plus 2 chairs and a desk with a 32 inch TV. The Bathroom had a full size bath with a large walk in shower – and a TV!! The hotel features a full Gym and spa area which is complimentary – there is a full size pool with views over the city. The hotel was close to the Bund walkway which of an evening has breathtaking views over the financial district which is lit up like New York (but better).
We decided to go and find a spot of lunch and had a little walk.. We were both extremely tired having not slept. we were 8 hours ahead of UK time – Local time was 12 mid day (so our bodies were telling us it was 4 am). Close to our hotel were smaller more local establishments with no English Menu (or pictures for that matter). We walked about 20 minutes and found some larger restaurants which felt a bit more welcoming. We were nearer the more touristy area and this was definitely reflected in the price of the meal. Shanghai at the best of times isn’t the cheapest city in China. Communication was a problem here but we were able to choose our meals by pointing to the pictures as there were no English menus. We were left with a warm teapot and we were unsure what this was for – it turns out after speaking with our guide the next day that it is traditional to be served complimentary Green Tea, we enjoyed our beers anyway.
Walking back to the hotel we noticed a German Restaurant called The Old Captain which was actually next door to our hotel. we agreed we would try it later – but first for a few hours sleep.
Upon waking we decided to go for a walk along the Bund walk way , as I mentioned their are excellent views of the well lit up skyline. This walkway stretches for a few miles and passes lots of interesting buildings both along the walkway and across the river. There is a jogging track and you see many locals wandering around and jogging. You can follow this walk way almost to the memorial monument and what I would call the main tourist area along the Bund – it is around a 25 minute walk. This gets really busy with tourists and locals alike.
Dinner was taken at the German restaurant ‘Old Captain’ mainly because we were still unsure where to venture – The restaurant is well themed in a German Bierhaus style with authentic food and beer. The trio of sausages with mash and sauerkraut it my opinion was very authentic. They also brew their own beer , which is simply fantastic, not particularly cheap but really good. We decided on the 1ltr Steins.
Still tired from the travelling we retired rather early ready for the adventure which awaited us in the morning.
Stay tuned for part 2