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Published: April 4th 2007
On the MAGLEV
Here's my ticket! And here's a leaflet.. LOOK! No English!
Boarding the China Eastern plane to Shanghai around 2 in the morning, of course what we really wanted was a snack! Yes, that was sarcastic.. They gave out snack trays filled with sweet breads, chocolate, biscuits and pickles (turnip pickles, essential for Chinese travel). We were too busy trying to get some sleep. I think I got about 1 hour, in 10 minute snippets, before being woken by someone vomitting. Nice. Then they announced we were landing soon.
Arriving at Shanghai Pudong Airport half asleep, we then faced customs and immigration. It didn't help that the airline had given us no information whatsoever. We saw other people with up to 3 different forms of various colours, but could find only one at the counters that was relevant, something about what we were bringing into the country. Not that the bored looking official actually cared, he barely glanced at the slip of paper. I could of written my name as Mickey Mouse and signed as Donald Duck! Then came the next hurdle.. immigration. We filled in tiny yellow cards and joined the queue. Kriisten had mentioned something about a lot of questions and Jessica did get a mini-3rd degree, at
New food... Old transport.
one point she even turned and pointed at me! Ok, so I had been implicated in something! I was expecting the worst as I stepped up and handed over my papers, but the clerk simply stamped my passport and handed it back (and I do believe she almost smiled!). Phew!
First impression, aside from the chaos, it's BLOODY FREEZING! I had hoped it was just Bangkok-style air-conditioning, but no, it's just Shanghai in April. It probably didn't help that I had just arrived from 40C plus.... After a short search, we found an ATM. Went to the bus, but redirected to the MAGLEV - which is short for Magnetic Levitation. Yes, we were to levitate our way to the city. Pudong Airport's link to Shanghai proper is a prototype levitation train that they hope to use to link Shanghai and Beijing. The train is supposed to reach a top speed of 480Km/hr (as it levitates on magnets, the only friction is from air), so Jessica had her camera at the ready (the speed is displayed in the carriages). Unfortunately, the train reached only 301Km/hr. I want my money back.
The Maglev terminates at an MRT station, Shanghai's underground system. I feel like I'm in Hong Kong. The signs and stations look just like those in HK. Getting to the hostel (Mingtown Hiker YHA) was hassle-free. Emerging from the underground, I saw a setting more akin to Singapore (which is perhaps the direction that China wants to go) than the China of my memories. Concrete, metal and glass supporting a huge video screen. Very clean streets and even orderly traffic! The pedestrians were actually waiting for the lights to turn green. In my day (I'm getting old), we just crossed and squeezed between the cars and trucks. Another startling surprise was the number of bicycles. There are still many, but they are all very old ones, even the motorbikes are all old. There are nowhere near as many bikes now as there used to be.
Walking to the hostel, we spotted our first McDonalds. Jessica took a great picture of a horde of cyclists (all old bikes too) stopped outside. China today, in a picture.
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