Shanghai 18-22 December 2017

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December 23rd 2017
Published: December 25th 2017
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Mon 18 December 2017 Depart Helsinki

After breakfast we decided to walk to the Rock Church which was a block away from our hotel. After storing our cases in the lobby storage and adorning our snow clothes. It didn’t take us long to arrive at the Church which was literally built into the side of the hill.

The pews were pine wood and the religious effects were modern. A baby in a manger was beautiful. The uneven rock walls were lit with purple lights and the roof was conical shaped made of strips of wood which were shaped into circles. We walked up the stairs to see the magnificent and very different view. It was impressive. Next, we went outside and climbed up the hill which was walking over the top of the church.

Sheryl and I then walked towards the water while Tom went back to the hotel. We didn’t have enough time to reach the water as we had to catch a taxi to the airport.

Flight ‐ Air France (AF) ‐ 5009 - Fare Basis: Q1SFAU Operated by: FINNAIR

Depart: Helsinki Arpt (HEL) Helsinki, Terminal 2, 4:05 PM

Arrive: Charles De Gaulle Intl Arpt (CDG), Paris, Terminal 2D, 6:10 PM

Flight ‐ Air France (AF) ‐ 5202 December 18, 2017


Depart: Charles De Gaulle Intl Arpt (CDG), Paris, Terminal 2E, 8:20 PM

Arrive: Pudong International Arpt (PVG), Shanghai, Terminal 1, 2:40 PM, December 19, 2017

When we arrived at the Charles De Gaulle International Airport to pick up our boarding pass for the last leg of our journey, as we hadn’t been given it in Helsinki, we were asked for our visa for China. My heart jumped as I hadn’t organised visas. We were told that we could not get on the plane after the attendant looked on his computer system to check on visa requirements. I couldn’t believe it! I said our bags had been booked right through to Shanghai. He told us that they would be pulled off the plane.

We were shown where the Air France service desk was so that we could change our flight to the next day, giving us a chance to get a China visa – which was had little chance of doing successfully. There was no one at the service desk and there was a sign telling us to go to another service desk if this one wasn’t being attended. It was a 5 minute walk. When arriving there, another sign told us to go back to the previous desk. Sheryl and Tom stayed with the hand luggage while I rushed back to the 1st desk. I was determined to solve this issue.

As I was rushing back, the man who originally told us of our dilemma, said “sorry, sorry, sorry, I was looking at old information and the non-visa time had been extended to 144 hours”. We were going to be in China for only 84 hours. Oh thank goodness. He printed out 3 boarding passes. I rushed back to Tom & Sheryl, waving the 3 boarding passes, with an extremely big smile on my face. We were all OK. The flight to Shanghai went well and we all even had a few hours sleep.

18-22 December – Staying in SHANGHAI - Howard Johnson Plaza Shanghai 595 Jiu Jiang Road

The flight was on time (2.40pm at Pudong Airport) and the there were no problems about finding a taxi to take us to our hotel. The taxi driver didn’t know where the hotel was so at one stage I had 6 Chinese men with their phones, trying to work out where the hotel was. The problem was that it had changed its name to a Chinese name so hence the confusion.

After a 45 minute drive, we arrived at our hotel which was quite central and only a couple of blocks from west The Bund as the river sides are known as. By this time, it was 5.00pm and getting dark so we decided to stay up and go to bed early.

Once settled into our very comfortable rooms, we went for a walk to see if we could find a restaurant for dinner.

We discovered that just outside our hotel was a big square. It was part of one of the main shopping malls, Nanjing Road. As it was such a long street, there were trackless sightseeing mini-train taking people up and down the pedestrian mall in which we had a ride.

Nanjing Road is the most popular shopping street in Shanghai; it runs for 5-6km from the Bund in the east to Yan’an West Street where the Jing’an Temple stands. It is the world’s longest shopping street. Today the street is referred to as East Nanjing Road (pedestrian section) and West Nanjing Road which meet at People’s Park.

Following the Opium War of 1839-1842 the Treaty of Nanking was signed, and the Qing Dynasty seeded Hong Kong to the British plus established treaty ports, one of which was Shanghai. With this new status the British and other allies could set up “concessions” or enclaves in Shanghai. Nanjing Road was within the British Concession and then part of the Shanghai International Settlement when the British and American enclaves merged in 1863.

The road became a bustling place of trade for foreign goods and its status as a shopping street was established. The street has undergone many changes since then. For example, the eastern end has been made pedestrian-only and the street is now lined with big name brand stores and shopping malls rather than little shops. There are also theatres and hotels along Nanjing Road and open-air bars, specialty stores, restaurants, and sculptures.

Among the many fascinating stores there is the Shanghai City of Books Nandong Bookstore which was established in 1949; the Cai Tong De Pharmacy established in 1882 and selling Chinese medicine which we visited; Wangkai Photography opened in 1923 and holds many historic photos; Shao Wan Sheng, opened in 1952 and sells traditional local food; Du Yun Xuan calligraphy store and Heng De Li Clocks and Watches opened in 1874.

We found a lovely restaurant with all Chinese food, but the menus were in English as well. Yay! We ordered 3 different dishes to share along with rice – of course! We also asked for white wine, hoping that that is what we would get as their English was limited and our Chinese was Nil!! All was well. We got the bottle of white wine which was put in a small glass container with ice. It was almost too small to support the wine bottle but is was fine.

After enjoying our 1st meal in China, we walked back to the hotel for a long awaited sleep.

The next day (20 December) after a late start, we decided to buy a 90 yuan ticket for the Sightseeing bus company for 48 hours which gave us access to 4 different circuits. On the whole, it worked well although several times we had to wait for one to arrive at our chosen stop, but that gave us time to people watch etc. There are several hop-on-hop-off bus companies in Shanghai and a wide variety of prices.

We headed for the Bund and decided to stay on the bus. Sheryl had a cold and didn’t sleep well but ‘pushed-on’.

The Bund or Waitan is in Shanghai’s Old Town on the west bank of the Huangpu River facing Pudong District across the river. The main street of The Bund is a section of Zhongshan Road which is within the former Shanghai International Settlement which was formed by joining of the US and UK concessions. When referring to The Bund it usually means the section of waterfront buildings, wharves and the adjacent areas. The Bund is lined with historic colonial buildings and tourists go there to enjoy the riverside promenade.

The word “Bund” means embankment or levee referring to the bank of the river. The Bund was once the city’s financial district and since the 1920s has been a symbol of the city. The beautiful buildings facing the water once housed foreign trading houses, embassies, private clubs and banks. The Shanghai Club, Masonic Club and a newspaper also occupied these buildings. Many of the buildings are in the Beaux Art style from the turn of the 20th century.

The banking institutes slowly disappeared from The Bund after the Communists took the power and clubs were closed. As relations with the West improved in the 80s The Bund buildings were once again occupied by banks, hotels and clubs. The area was prone to flooding from the river during typhoon season and so a levee was built. This made the embankment 10 meters above the level of the street. With the construction of the riverside promenade along in the 80s and the expansion of Zhongshan Road to 10 lanes the area is once again a vibrant site and the city’s top attractions.

We took several walks along the Bund to see the beautiful buildings and see the eight-story clock tower (Big Ching) built in 1927. Highlights of The Bund include the HSBC Building and the Huangpu Park at the northern end.

The third night we were in Shanghai, we organised a tour that picked us up from our hotel and took us from the Bund’s southern ferry port onto a cruise on the Huangpu River. This was an absolute highlight and an experience I was looking forward to and one of the purposes for going to Shanghai. The sites didn’t not let us down. It was beautiful with all the colourfully lit buildings, reflecting in the river.

One iconic building in Shanghai is the purple Oriental Pearl TV Tower. This TV and radio tower stands out on the Shanghai skyline opposite the Bund in the Pudong District. The tower was designed by Huan Chen Benlin and Zhang Xiulin and completed in 1994. It stands at 468 meters high and is one of the tallest structures in the city and the 6 tallest structure in the world. At night the tower is lit up with LED lights in different patterns. The tower has eleven spheres of different sizes connected by columns and standing on three large columns anchored underground.

There are 15 levels in the tower with three observation levels: the highest, the Space Capsule is at 350 metres; the middle observation level at 90 metres and the lowest level, 263 metres off Upper Ball Bottom Ball the ground. The two lower observation levels have outdoor observation areas and the second sphere has an outdoor area with a glass floor. In the first sphere is the Science Fantasy World. There is a revolving restaurant at 267 meters above ground which makes a complete revolution every two hour. At the pedestal level there is the Shanghai Municipal History Museum. Also in the tower there are stores, exhibition space and the Space Hotel.

We decided to go up the Jinmao Tower where we saw 3 tourists sky walking, hanging over the edge of the 88th floor where the observation deck is. It took us 10 seconds to travel to 340metres. The view was spectacular, and we had a magnificent view of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and all the other commercial buildings.

On the evening of the 20 December, our 2nd night in Shanghai we went to see the acrobat show at the Shanghai Circus Centre put on by ERA Intersection of Time Acrobatics Show. We caught the metro to the venue as the station was next to the spectacular round building. We were in the 2nd row from the front which was fantastic. And what a show it was! The flexibility of the girls and the strength of the men was amazing. They were very clever performing different acrobatics, balancing acts, including on bicycles. One beautiful act was a couple winding themselves with large ribbons suspended from the ceiling. This was a demonstration of strength, grace and trust.

The final act was 8 motorbikes riding very fast, inside a steel globe. How they fitted I will never know but timing was definitely the skill they would have to have. It was a very impressive, professional show.

The next day, using the Sightseeing bus as transport, we walked along the Riverside Promenade / Bingjiang Da Dao which is one of the must do things when in Shanghai in the Pudong District across the Huangpu River from the Bund promenade. The Riverside Promenade runs for 2.5km along the east bank of the river from Dongchang Road and the river ferry terminal to Taidong Road in the north. It was installed not only for leisure but as a precaution against flooding. At the heart of the promenade is a musical fountain set in a public square. The promenade has become so popular that during August you can hardly move as there are so many people and the promenade rivals the Bund as “the New Bund in Pudong.” During typhoon season it can be dangerous to walk along the stretch of the promenade near Dongchang Road.

We then went to the Tourist Tunnel which was riding in a cable car under the river. During the ride we were entertained with a night spectacular light show. Very different.

We then caught another Sightseeing bus to travel around Line 5 which was around the northern district of Shanghai to the Huangpu River.

Next was a visit to the Yu Gardens which was planted in 1577 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was originally a private garden belonging to a government official, Pan Yunduan. He built the garden for his parents to have a beautiful place to enjoy in their old age. The gardens are beautifully laid out and include several architectural features, pavilions, pools, bridges, calligraphy, pagodas and rockeries. The Yu Garden (Happiness Garden) cover approximately 20,000m² and is divided into 6 scenic areas – Wanhua Chamber, Yuhua Hall, Dianchun Hall, Sansui Hall, Huijing Hall and the Inner Garden (originally a separate garden). Highlights include the Yuyuan Bazaar (next to the gardens), the park sculptures; the 5 tone 3.3 meter high Jade Rock; the 14 meter high Great Rockery; dragon walls and bamboo gardens. In the spring the gardens are in bloom and the Spring Festival sees the garden decorated with lanterns.

We hopped back on the Sightseeing Bus to go to the French Concession. This was on the advice of a couple from Dalby who we chatted to whilst on the hop-on-hop-off bus who had visited the area.

From 1849-1943 this area was the French Concession, a French settlement granted by the Chinese government. It was primarily a residential area and the centre for Catholic life in the city. Today the French Concession covers about 8km running west of The Bund and is one of the most beautiful parts of the city with many historic buildings.

In later years the French Concession grew to almost double its size and the French constructed roads outside the concession and requested police and taxation powers over these areas as well. In return for these powers the French agreed to turn in Chinese revolutionaries who had sought refuge in the concession. By the end of the negotiations the French Concession was fifteen times the original size. Shikumen homes were built to accommodate Chinese residents and there was also an influx of foreign nationals including White Russians fleeing the Russian Revolution. In 1943 the Vichy French government gave the French Concession to the pro-Japanese puppet Wang Jingwei government in Nanking. Following WWII the Chinese Kuomintang troops pulled out of northern French Indochina in exchange for the French relinquishing all French concessions in China.

We enjoyed the beautiful architecture, tree-lined avenues, breweries, cafes, restaurants, boutiques, antique stores and art galleries. As it was Christmas time, all the trees were covered in fairy lights and Christmas decorations could be seen everywhere. There were several large gingerbread houses on display.

We chose the Wolfgang Puck Restaurant for dinner which was beautiful and with a variety of dished to choose from. We shared a couple of very tasty pizzas and calamari. The red wine was superb as was Tom’s white.

Friday, December 22, 2017

At the heart of Shanghai Tom and I visited the People’s Square (Renmin Guang Chang) in the south and the People’s Park (Renmin Guang Yuan) in the north. It is a large landscaped green space dotted with several important buildings. On the north side of Renmin Avenue is the People’s Park; Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art; the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government; Shanghai Grand Theatre (made almost entirely of glass) and the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center. On the south side of Renmin Avenue is the People’s Square and the Shanghai Museum (designed to look like a Chinese cooking pot). A 17 meter-wide green belt flanks the sides of the 140,000m² square.

There is a musical fountain at the centre of the People’s Square which performs at night with coloured lights and music. Also in the square and park area there is a rock garden; many paths; amusement rides; a café-bar called Barbarossa and water features. This area was once the most famous racecourse in the Far East but in 1949 Renmin Avenue was constructed and in 1993 further reconstruction was carried out creating the public squares.

We saw all this from the 5th floor of the Urban Exhibition Centre.

We visited the Exhibition Centre which is located in a large building on People’s Square. The building itself is an attraction. It is a six storey contemporary structure 43 meters high and with aluminium panels on the façade and a membrane-looking structure on the roof. The highlight of the exhibition is a large 1/500 scale model of the city showing buildings that exist and those which are planned for the future in 2020. The model takes up an entire floor of the building. We walked around the model as well viewed it from the gallery and look down at the model where we got a better overview.

We found a small screening room where there is a movie which takes visitors “flying” over the city and into the future. There were also other exhibits in the building including those relating to Shanghai’s history; the development of the city and points of interest like The Bund. There are smaller scale models of famous places in Shanghai. There are historic photos of the city and exhibits focused on the transportation infrastructure; environmental issues; water ways and leisure activities in the city. The exhibits use sound and light effects, interactive stations and “walk-through” displays. On the 5th floor we topped at the café for Tom to have a peach flavoured tea.

We then caught the metro to visit the Jing'an Si Temple. The ancient Temple of Peace and Tranquility is in the Jing’an District; it was originally built in 247AD but was moved to its present location during the Song Dynasty (c.1216). The present structure is from the 19 th century Qing Dynasty. During the Cultural Revolution the temple was used as a plastic factory. In 1972 the temple suffered fire damage and was rebuilt and in 1983 was once again used as a place of worship. The highlight of this temple is the Buddha statue which is the largest jade Buddha in China weighing 11,000kg. The temple also holds a copper bell from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) which weighs more than 3 tons. The temple has three main halls – the Mahavira Hall which is the biggest and holds the 3.8 meter tall jade Buddha. In the exhibition hall of the Buddhist Relics there are paintings and calligraphy by Yanghou and art by Zhang Daqian, Wen Zhenming and Chu Zhishan. In the Guanyin Hall is a statue of a goddess standing on a lotus-shaped base. The statue is 6.2 meters tall and made of camphor wood. The temple also holds stone Buddha statues from 420-589AD.

We then had a 3-hour wait before we caught a taxi to the airport. On the ground floor of our hotel was a Starbucks so we had a coffee from there which filled in some time.

Flight ‐ Air France (AF) ‐ 5242 - Fare Basis: Q1SFAU Operated by: CHINA EASTERN AIRLINES

Depart: Pudong International Arpt (PVG), Shanghai, Terminal 1, 8:55 PM

Arrive: Brisbane Arpt (BNE), Brisbane, Terminal I, 9:45 AM, December 23, 2017

What a fantastic 3+ weeks we have had. It’s been full of contrasts, extremes and experiences. The following are highlights of our trip.

· Seeing the Northern Lights

· Experiencing the coast of Norway from the sea

· Visiting North Cape during the Polar Light

· Sleeping in a glass igloo and log cabin and having a sauna

· Experiencing life in the snow – again – including using snowshoes in temperatures of -7 degrees

· Going on sleigh rides being pulled by husky dogs and reindeers

· Snowmobiling

· Visiting Santa again in Rovaniemi

· Ice fishing by Tom – with a ‘massive’ fishing rod

· Visiting Tallinn Old Town and seeing all the Christmas lights and markets

· Night lights of Shanghai along the river

· Being with 19 other well-travelled, very interesting and friendly people

· Having our wonderful guide, Inger from Estonia

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