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Published: October 21st 2013
It’s a sunny day and.. but wait, did I say sunny? Yes! The smoggy fogginess has lifted and wonder of wonders we can see the City, gleaming like a proud father to its 23 million children.
We check in with ‘The Navigator’ on the ground floor. Very clever concept: a person assigned to giving directions. It turns out the famous acrobatics show is sold out. We catch a taxi (¥14) to the Shanghai Museum at around 9:30am and again opt out of the even longer queue that has already formed. Instead a walk through the People’s square, wide avenues with trimmed hedges and formal grass plots, surrounded by various interesting architectural structures. At the entrance to the ‘Fake clothing’ shopping mall (as described by the Navigator), we are pestered by a bunch of different salesmen wanting us to come in a buy stuff. They carry little picture sheets showing watches and bags and the like, but all to no avail: the shops aren’t even open until 11am on this holiday. So instead it’s a right hand turn and we head east along Ninjiang Road.
As we approach the main shopping area, the crowds are increasing, until we get to
the corner of a large shopping mall and sit and watch the rivers of humanity walk by. The Shanghainese are on holiday, and come wearing a huge range of contemporary clothing, with the occasional colourful outfit in the mix. Apart from the Chinese faces, the crowd could be in any modern western City. Probably not Europe though, because there weren’t any goths. We’re sitting waiting for these stores to open, as it’s still not 10am. After a short wander through a large mall, we escape from the high price tags and carry on down the street towards the river. At a pedestrian crossing, a young Chinese lady insists on having her picture taken with Kylie. We should start charging.
We arrive at the Bund and investigate the tunnel that goes under the river. There’s not a large line, but it seems pricey to be charged ¥70 (A$12.70) per person to walk a tunnel. So instead we take a taxi that only costs ¥18 and get dropped just near the entrance to the Pearl Orient Tower. There I bravely try to buy tickets. The lady indicates it’s a three hour wait. I figure she means we’re buying the 3pm tickets.
No worries, I go ahead and buy the ‘B’ tickets to the middle ball (¥160 each, $A29). Then we head off to find the river front and a place for lunch. The restaurants I’d seen from the boat turn out to be very expensive and flash, as you’d expect for a prime river front location. So we skip them and the little McDonalds booths and by chance find our way over a pedestrian bridge to the large Super Brand Mall. There to my delight is a large display of cheesecakes at a “Secret Recipe” casual restaurant.
The menu is to our liking: a good mix of western and Asian dishes, including milkshakes, cappuccinos, and cheese. Liam has the chicken cordon bleu, I have chicken satay with rice, Ky a lasagne, and Joseph just chips (French fries). We tuck into desserts also: Ky has another brownie with icecream. Still trying to satisfy that chocolate craving. The boys have milkshakes and Liam tells us horror stories of the “Wild Boneless Chicken” that would eat us up if only it could walk. Then, with Joseph attempting to lick his icecream in its bowl, Kylie says “Use the Spoon, Joseph”, to which Liam
adopts his Obi Wan Kenobi voice and says “Use the Spoon, Joseph, Use the Spoon”. There must have been something in that cordon bleu. At long last we leave, and waddle around the mall for a while.
At around 2:30pm we head back to the tower, go through the entrance gates well below the building, and no worries follow the sign that indicates ‘A’ and ‘B’ ticket holders to the left. There looks to be a large line on the right side of the entrance, and another on the left. The base of the Pearl Orient Tower is round, so we walk around to the left to join the end of the line. And keep walking, and walking. About a third of the way around, we find the end of the line, which is queueing in an anticlockwise direction. It winds around almost to the entrance, then curves back
on itself and winds in a clockwise direction all the way around to – you guessed it – the right side of the entrance.
Anyway, we decide to join the line, and start to get friendly with the natives. I mean really friendly. Despite the fact that the line
is moving at snail pace, and there’s very little chance of sneaking ahead of the person in front of you, most of the Chinese seem intent on creating as little space as possible between you and them. One lady in particular, all of 5 feet high, presses herself determinedly to Kylie’s behind. We decide not to be Roman about it, and maintain a little space to the group in front of us.
About two hours later we get to the entrance door, and with relief walk in. Check out the pictures to see what awaited us: another hour at least to avoid the Explosive Dog, clear security, and from there keep following the line that continued into the building. This is crazy. We left.
If I’d bought the ‘C’ tickets for the top level ball (¥220), we could have skipped the first two hour line. Bugger.
After a rest back at the hotel, Ky and I walk a block down the road to the Tesco grocery store at the basement of a small mall. The mall has a lot of unopened stores, but one that is open is selling clothes that are at last reasonably priced, and I buy four belts for ¥66 total. There are a couple of small eating places and a Mr Bean Coffee Shop. The
Mr Bean. Awesome. We have fun sorting out a dinner from the various foods in the Tescos, including bread stuffs, biscuits, instant noodles, beer and Tiramisu flavoured Advocaat liqueur. A group of three blond ladies look like they’re on a diet: they only have vodka.
Dinner in the room and a movie or two. A nice way to end a difficult day.
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