(Ed. note: This week’s Jiaxing Express is a Guest Post by Martin and Lynne, who are visiting us as part of their Grand Tour of China.)
(Ed. note: Last June we ran Contest #2 for travel stories. The original winner has not yet given any indication of their desire to collect their prize so we have decided to arbitrarily give the First Place Prize to Lynne Cregg-Guinan whose story of her panties going around and around on the airport carousel provided us with gales of laughter. Congratulations Lynne and since you are here you can collect it.)
It’s Wednesday and we are off on our Oriental Odyssey. Delivered in short order to YVR, we go straight up to China Eastern Airlines check-in (12 desks open – take note Air Canada!). Two minutes later, we are heading to Security. Wednesday morning seems to be a good travelling time, because that was smooth sailing too. Duty free in hand, a twenty minute wait at the gate, and we are called. Everybody is on in less than 10 minutes (again, please note Air Canada!). A brand new plane, reasonable leg-space, individual entertainment screens, two drinks and three meals, some dubious English in the inflight magazine; twelve hours passes relatively quickly. On arrival at Shanghai Pudong, we haven’t the seat belts off when everybody is moving – never been off a plane so quick! Twenty minutes on the walkways (a BIG airport!), straight through Customs and into Baggage Claim. The good run we are having continues when our luggage is Piece Number One and Piece Number Three on the carousel. What luck! What ease! What could possibly go wrong at this stage?
Out we go to be met by a sea of dark hair, where a tall white guy with grey hair should be sticking out like a sore thumb – right? Nooo – no sign of Geoff (Terry is to join us the next day). Where could he be? Did we really agree to meet at Pudong? Or the hotel? Had he been arrested for some nefarious deed (such as the Jiaxing Express?)? Did we tell him the wrong date? The guy is always on time for Chrissakes!
Thirty minutes of shoe watching later, all is relief as Geoff appears, looking a little flushed. Much back slapping and hugging, followed by a raised eyebrow. “OK”, he says, “I went to the wrong terminal! No one ever arrives into this terminal (nobody but the Cregg-Guinans that is)”.
(Ed. note: Hey isn’t there SOME responsibility on the travellers to let the meeting party the terminal they are arriving at? When I arrived at Terminal 2, there was no listing of the Cregg-Guinan’s flight on the arrivals board but what the heck – TIC. Anyway, after an hour of waiting I finally asked someone and they informed me that the China Eastern Flight had landed at Terminal 1 and I took off like either the tortois or the hare – you figure which one.)
On to Shanghai by taxi – they only go faster here by blowing the horn louder! Lane changes are accomplished by getting two feet ahead of the guy beside you and yanking the steering wheel. Arriving safely, we check into a lovely room with a shower you could fit twelve in. A quick rinse followed by a beautiful meal in a place called, appropriately, Lynn’s.
(Ed. note: L and M were a little shocked to open the closet door and see this.)
Next day, up early for a huge breakfast, including Wonton soup, bacon and sausage, yogurt and copious amounts of coffee and pastries. Then to the Rip Off Mall – er, Replica Mall. Instead of waiting for G&T’s friend Links, Geoff and Martin go to the Secret Secret Room, where we are soon bedecked in new watches. All is happiness until we meet Links, whose facial expression when we tell her the prices we paid is something to behold. C’est la vie. (“No comment” – Lynne) (Ed. note: Links’ comment: “Don’t buy anything here without talking to me first! I am mad at you!”). Upstairs then to the glasses shop where Lynne orders one pair of Chanel long distance glasses with transition lenses and a pair of prescription sunglasses. Cost around $220 each. Gorgeous though. They will be ready for pick up on Saturday if we wish to.
An afternoon spent exploring, followed by a trip to the South Bund Soft Material Spinning Market, where Lynne orders two pairs of wool pants, a pair of summer capris and a skirt – to be ready 48 hours later. This is greatly facilitated by the fact that she has brought the originals that she really likes for them to copy. Then back to the hotel to meet Terry. More hugging and kissing, followed by large amounts of wine, and a great meal in a restaurant called Lapis Thai. By now we have this pedestrian thing down pat – crosswalks mean nothing, nor do one way streets.
On Day Three, take the ingredients of Day Two and repeat. Over to Pudong, only to see all the tall buildings we wanted to see disappear into the clouds.
Nature kicks in, and we head to the Financial Centre Building (it looks like a bottle opener), where we all sample the Pudong Pudenda Purifier – a device that warms the seat and cleans you front and back when you are finished!
After all those beer, here’s the toilet at TGIFriday’s:
So, off to the Tacky Tourist Tunnel under the river, where, to compensate for the innate properties of tunnels – that there are no views – they have installed a Whistler style rail gondola, and enough crazy lighting to obviate the need for LSD on any given day. (not recommended for people prone to seizures!! ). Then, along the Bund with about one million Chinese on weekend family outings.
(Ed. note: For dinner it was off to Lost Heaven. Now those of you who have lived in Shanghai know how wonderful this restaurant WAS. The last two times we have been there have been very disappointing. The food has been bland, and the service too “more wine, sir” pushy. It was such that Terry and Geoff will not soon return and Lynne and Martin said if they lived in Shanghai they too would avoid it Perhaps they are resting on their laurels. Lapis Thai, on the other hand was fantastic!)
On Sunday, we walked to through the French Quarter and Peoples’ Square. The latter is quite remarkable due to the Sunday activity there. Parents of grown children write out the credentials of their offspring on a piece of paper with a contact # and sometimes a photo and pin it on either an overturned umbrella or on a wall behind them. Other parents and singles prowl through and read all the papers and write down the contact info of those interesting to them. Lots of apparent matchmakers are present too. Must see if this would work in Blue Mountain Park when we get home!
After an excellent lunch of dumplings and other delicacies Geoff and Lynne go and collect the clothing (all fit perfectly). Terry and Martin do a bit of grocery shopping to take back with us. We then say goodbye to Shanghai and head to Jiaxing on a bullet train. The railway station in Shanghai is something to behold and is the size of an airport terminal and very new.
However, we have no idea what this means – seen by Lynne on the wall in the women’s water closet.
By happy happenstance, we have to buy business class tickets, which puts us in a carriage that is as close to flying first class as you can get while actually on the ground!
And here we sit, blogging while our hosts are at work. A few days here, then off to Xi’an to see the Terracotta Army and to dust the Emperor’s Tomb (the first emperor). We are there for three days, whence G&T will return home, and we go on to Beijing, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. Stay posted!
The Shoe Blog
Geoff spotted these while Lynne and Martin were looking all over FreshMart Grocery store for Chinese beer – to no avail. They had to settle for German Pilsner.