Thanks to a cheap flight I al of a sudden had 17 hours to spend in Shanghai, and the way I see it this was a bonus. But was is there actually to do in Shanghai? Wasn’t this the city with this futuristic looking tower? And isn’t there a river flowing trough it? Sounds like a plan for the first couple of hours and after that we’ll figure out the rest. So far the preparation.
10 sleepless hours in the middel of a Chinese family later (With all my flying experience I should have known better then to leaving it up to the ground staff at the airport to pick my seat) I arrived at Pudong International airport. Local time 6 o’clock in the morning. Transit visa was arranged super easy and the adventure could begin!
But how do you actually get to this city?
Well there must be a train or a bus somewhere and sure enough there is this Maglev supersonic magnetic float train that takes you to Shanghai city in record time. Great! But where in this city is this tower even located? Airport free Wi-Fi here I come!… or uhmm connection failed? What is this? Try again. No connection possible? What!?!? #@$&% WIFI! Starbucks here I come!… or uhmm Enter your phone number for a code? OK I can do that. Wel send me this code then, come on! One more time. Nope, no Wi-Fi at Starbucks. OK T-Mobile super expensive foreign country package here I come!… or uhmm Also no connection possible? Yes that’s why I come to you!! Connection with T-Mobile temporarily unavailable, try again later?!?! WHAT?! I am only here temporarily!!
Well, you know what, I’ll just go on the train and figure it out from there. I mean we have all found our ways for years without smartphones and GPS so that should still be possible. 1 round trip on the Maglev train en just hop on this magic bullet. Now for your information, this train is super fast but does not actually take you to the city centre so you have to take the subway. And there is no better time to take the subway in Shanghai then… you guessed it… the morning rush hour. It is truly an indescribable amazing feeling to have to find out where this tower is located while you still feel it is around 3AM, you are sweaty and wrinkled since just came out of an airplane, with way to much hand luggage and all your valuables, on a subway station where it smells like food your are way not ready for, in between about 10.000 Chinese people on there way to work and of course without phone! Needless to say I was a good start of the day:).
But you can’t get me down that easy so after hanging around the ticket booth for a while and stalking some Chinese people i finally managed to buy a ticket and wormed my way into a subway where I played the “How can you make it as difficult as possible for others to exit the subway cart” game for 5 delightful stations. And then… half past 7 in the morning… you walk out of the subway station and there it is, standing in the sunlight waiting for me… The Oriental Pearl tower!
1 minor point: It was still closed. (Sighhh)
So I first spend some time at the river and made some photos but 1 hour 14 minutes and 28 Euros later the time was there. It was my turn to go up. The whole thing has a high entertainmentpark feel to it with a glass floor, a space deck, a revolving restaurant and even a rollercoaster inside but in the end it was worth the trip.
But after an hour and a half my eyes started to wander off from being so tired so it was time to get some food. Problem number 21 of the day: No Chinese money. Up until this point I could handle myself with the help of my creditcard and this was one of the things that I assumed would work so I didn’t bother to check during my minimal preparation. But for some reason Chinese restaurants were not accepting my card. At the word VISA they all started waving and making big dramatic gestures that foreign creditcards were not welcome in their establishments. Funny enough not one of the people that send me away could point me in the direction of the nearest ATM and that while I was located in the financial district of all places. But after finding and trying different ATMs I found that they all share the same discriminatory feelings toward my VISA and Maestro cards s the restaurants did. With my current hunger and still 12 hours on the clock this was slightly inconvenient. Normally you look up where to go and what to do but without Wi-Fi the whole world seemed to be against me today.
But there si a solution to every problem and in the end it turned out to be a matter to following the Americans. people from the US are always swiping there card wherever they go and YES! at coffeeshop number 3 I could still my hunger, buy a extremely expensive bottle of water and wonder oh wonder 30 minutes on the Wi-Fi!!
The whole morning adventure took more energy than anticipated and I did not factor in the lack of sleep beforehand so a long walk through the city was no longer an option. After a stroll trough the park I just went back to the airport, found myself a nice bench in front of Gate 28 (For my former colleagues: It just was meant to be) and slept for some blissful hours 😊. Next stop Vietnam!