May 27

Day 4: Shanghai

Saturday the 26th

This morning we woke, pulled back the lilac coloured doonas and showered (which was an experience in itself – thank goodness towels made handy dam walls to stem the water flow…the drain in the floor didn’t seem to want to act like a drain at all). We packed and boarded the airport bus and drove through the pea soup (ie. thick smog) to Beijing Airport. We checked in, got breakfast at the airport (can’t believe some had Burger King) and went through security…which was far more strict than leaving Australia!

Once on the plane we enjoyed a Chinese style meal, movies and rested – landing in Shanghai a few hours later. At Shanghai airport we were met by our tour group and escorted to a bus, then an hour long trip through traffic. On the way, Michael (our guide) explained that the population of Shanghai is now 23 million – the same as Beijing…and that Suzhou (where we go next) has a population of 12 million (Melbourne + Sydney basically). We saw lots of interesting architecture on the way – high towers, temples, sculptures…separated by manicured gardens and plantings of large trees.

On arrival at The Park Hotel, downtown Shanghai, we went to our rooms and found luxury once again! What a change from last night. Needless to say – smiles on dials 🙂 After setting up our rooms and freshening up, we headed to the Shanghai metro station across the road where we purchased a few extra Metro cards (just like our Myki cards) and put about 50 Chinese Yuan on the card. We then went further underground to catch a train to the Shanghai Circus World. It was interesting to learn that Shanghai now has 17 Metro train lines/routes to service the city.

We got dinner near the circus and went inside to prepare ourselves for the show. All five of us really loved the performance with such a variety of acts! A few examples were bicycle stunts including one where 5 ladies were riding the one bike whilst balancing, acrobatics on a long piece of silk (Pink style), plate spinning (6 at a time while laying on stomach, legs in the air), balancing/spinning a massive Ming Dynasty ceramic pot on a head whilst also tossing it metres into the air and catching it on the back of the neck and 8 motorbikes inside a big metal sphere riding in rings and generally managing to ride upside-down and in unison without crashing in such a small, confined space. Amazing stuff ladies and gentlemen…girls and boys.

It was back to the metro subway after, a half hour trip back, then up through the bowels of the subway into People’s Park…opposite our hotel. Before returning to the hotel, we danced with large groups of Chinese who were gathered around performers (not buskers). Whilst the music was Asian style and sung in Mandarin, we pushed through and managed to shine…so bright in fact that the locals were taking our photos like we had just performed at Coachella! Oh to have 15 minutes of fame. We may just come back feeling like we are famous!

Finally we returned to The Park and settled for the night. No calls home though – it was 10:30pm in Shanghai so 12:30am back home.