Saturday, April 8, 2017


After the excitement of the night before - the cool of the evening breeze on our faces as we shopped and explored - we awoke to a cool morning with the thought of breakfast and adventure on our minds.

In the light of the morning we were surprised at the intensity of colours in the flowers lining the streets, and the trees just starting to show their spring blossoms.  We strolled through People's Park, a public park in the Huangpu District of central Shanghai, on our way to the Metro. It is located south of Nanjing Road, which is a major shopping street, and north of People's Square.

   Be aware that wherever you travel in the world there will always be someone wanting to show you their shop, take you to a tea ceremony - you get the picture.  China is no different, and it wasn't long before two Chinese girls struck up a conversation - "please can you take our picture?"  Of course we could and with very well spoken English they engaged us in conversation about where we were from and then telling us they knew Sydney, Manly and Bondi, and did we drink tea?  And as they were walking the same way, "could they walk with us?"  My travel companion was suitably impressed with their knowledge of English and their friendly manner - her impression was shattered when I mentioned to them that neither of us drank tea, so really there was no point in us going to a tea ceremony or to their shop that they had mentioned casually in the conversation.

Back to the Metro.

A rather daunting experience at first, but we persevered and finally mastered the art of ticket purchase.  Our trip was slightly delayed as, when we descended the stairs to our Metro Station, we found ourselves in a mini shopping centre - and as all good tourists, we had to sample the food, the surroundings, and also purchase one or two items!!

We had only one thought on our minds this morning - to the fabric market.

The ride to our destination was quick, the train was clean, the stations were clean - and once again we were thrust up into the morning air not really knowing how to reach our destination - but all these people couldn't be wrong we thought and then we found a sign showing us the way.  Yes, the sign was both in Chinese and English.

Tailors and seamstresses and fabric and garments.  I was in heaven. It was hard to choose, but Jason was chosen to work his magic and produce an array of items for my travel buddy - all to be delivered to our hotel in a few days - all arrived on time and the workmanship was superb - the fabrics chosen according to the items ordered were perfectly matched.

We had managed to fit quite a bit in today - but the day was not over - and as we sat down to dinner we planned the events for the evening, which included walking, water and lights.

And off to The Bund we went. The Bund is a waterfront area in central Shanghai.  The area along the river faces the modern skyscrapers of the  Lujiazui in the Pudong Area.  It is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai. Building heights are restricted in the area.

It's at this point that I must add that the concept of distance to many Chinese is very different to what I grew up with.  A 30 minute walk to the ferry - wrong.  A six minute walk from the ticket office to the boat - wrong.  A further five minute walk to the boat when we felt we had gone way too far - wrong.  We only just made it to the ferry in time.  The one thing that was right was the wonder and amazement of the lights up and down the river, ever changing and brighter as the night sky surrounded us.  And being on a ferry was definitely the best way to see it all.  Walking along The Bund just isn't the same, it truly was a light show of spectacular proportions, and it is on every night.  As our boat adventure came to an end the clouds started to close in over the towers and buildings.  In a word - brilliant.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

And so the journey begins: 6.43 am on a bleak March morning
My journeys always begin the minute I turn the key in the lock of my front door and walk away from my comfort zone.
I've only been to southern China, so this new adventure was viewed with some trepidation.  No real pre-conceived ideas.
As the train pulled out of the station to take me to the airport (1 1/2 hours away) I knew I would have time to sit and wonder what was ahead - it's still dark and there is just a hint of mist as we cross the river - the colours are softened by the lingering rains of the past week.  I am surrounded by sleeping commuters on their way to work and I am left alone with my thoughts - to re-awaken my travel spirit - to re-align my being - as the name suggests - I am a Distant Traveller and love the thought of another journey.
Today I will not be boarding the plane alone. I have a travel buddy, a friend who is just starting her world adventures and she asked me to come along as her "guide".  How could I say no?  I organised the entire trip so she just has to turn up at the airport on time - she is excited but nervous - I am glad to be her guide on this trip.
The schedule will take us to Shanghai, Qingdao, Ningbo and Beijing. And I have decided to document the journey - the sights, the sounds and the smells and the emotions.
The mist still hangs low as my thoughts are brought back to the moment - the street lights shine orange against the grey sky.  As the rain beats against the window of the train I can see, reflected in the glass, my fellow passengers and my surroundings - I wonder many things - why do people think it's OK to vandalise a train? - pulling into a station I witness the expressionless faces of those waiting to board the train - the slight panic as they search for a seat - this is a journey they are committed to on a daily basis.
And then I am at the airport - my travel buddy has just arrived, we have our boarding passes, we proceed through Immigration and to our gate for departure - we are on the plane, seated, ready for take off.  And then after movies and much talking, we are landing at Shanghai Pudong International Airport and are immediately struck by the enormity of the terminal, followed by the efficiency of EVERYTHING.
We are in the taxi line, we are surrounded by noise and lights and we are on our way to the hotel - great position, across the road from People's Park and the Metro (yet to be discovered) as, after check-in and a bag drop we are off to explore - into the night.

Nice to know we don't need to go far for a chocolate fix.  Just around the corner from the hotel.

It strikes me, as we wander along the footpaths and tackle the infamous Chinese traffic, that people are staring at us - foreigners in a foreign land - and I realise people are amused by us and as I look around, yes, in a city the size of Shanghai, we are a novelty.