Sunday, January 6, 2013

Morning UK and First Day in Shanghai, China

Today is December 5th and it is a little colder and mistier than when we arrived yesterday. We were told it actually snowed not that far away. They were sprinkling salt along the path and car park.

Front of the hotel

We both slept very well and the beds were comfortable. We slept a little later than anticipated and finally went down to have breakfast in the lovely Terrace Room. In addition to the items on display they also had hot items made to order but the items currently available suited us fine.

Terrace Room

Breakfast Items
My selection

Due to my smartphone problem I wanted to get a few photos with my actual camera. My mother finished breakfast while I took a 10 minute walk out the back. The pavement was little slippery so I did not go very far. The ground was soggy as well.

Crisp December Day

After my walk we went to the lobby and asked them to check on our car pickup due to the poor service yesterday. It was a good thing they called because they had actually not departed even though they were due to arrive in just 15 minutes! I should have booked locally with Maidenhead Taxi as I contemplated before leaving the US. Luckily I had the hotel staff to deal with the incompetence of the car company.

We went back to the room to get the bags and wait. Fortunately I had allowed plenty of time to arrive at Heathrow for our 2:15 pm departure. The car finally showed up. I think the driver is married the guy who drove us yesterday. We departed Cliveden at 10:45 am and as there was no traffic we arrived at T5 Heathrow in just 20 minutes.

We completed the online check in for this flight at the hotel so we  planned to make out way directly through security and then head to the Galleries Lounge. The security check at T5 was very thorough. We both had our bags fully scrutinized by a very nice looking young man named Dan. He seemed more Nordic ski instructor than contraband spoiler. It took about 30 minutes to complete but we told him to take his time.

We were finally cleared and went to the Galleries Lounge. They also have an Elemis Spa and you can have fully clothed massage or other services. The lounge was very nice and large with tons of seating. We were not hungry yet but decided to look at the shops. They had a place where we could store our luggage and get a tag to collect it upon our return.

They shopping was extensive but we didn't need anything. I purchased some Hall Blackcurrant lozengers. I was hoping to find Lockets but I don't think they come in Blackcurrant any longer. I had a little trouble with the self-service machine but got some assistance. We then went back to the Galleries lounge and had a small snack and relaxed a bit. The food items were a little odd. They had pasta or curry with garlic bread.

Galleries Lounge

Nice big windows

The British Airways flight from London to Shanghai will take 10h 30m. It is also a 777-200 and we have Club World seats in 13 J&K. I am again flying backward. This time I am closer to the wing so do not have a great view. Unfortuately we will be in the dark for most of the flight so lack of a view doesn't matter so much.

We departed on schedule at 2:15 pm and the sun will set today at 5:00 pm across most of Northern Europe. Our flight path will take us across the North Sea and over Germany, Estonia, Eastern Russia and then across Siberia. We will cross Mongolia and then descend into Shanghai along the coast.

The Business Class section was not full and the flight attendants were very friendly and efficient.

This time my inflight entertainment was completely broken as the screen just flickered. They tried to restart it 3 times but no go. There were plenty of empty seats so I could have moved. However, I was tired and after the meal service decided to try to sleep. We would be hitting the ground running once in Shanghai and I will need to try to stay awake until the late afternoon. That is the plan anyway! I was able to get  some sleep but not sure if it will be enough. I checked our flight progress on my mother's monitor since hers was working.

Headed to Siberia

Before snoozing they served dinner.

More Salad and Salad in Club World
They served more salad again like the first flight. The grilled shrimp were actually from First Class and were excellent. For the second course I ordered the beef because it came with noodles. I sort of regretted this choice though. The beef was just ok and I didn't eat most of it.

Beef with noodle

I then tried to get some sleep but because the flight departed at 2:15 pm it was hard to try to sleep so early.
I woke up just as the sun was rising over Mongolia. I guess I slept for 4 hours.

I checked the flight plan again and we are making good progress.

A little more than half way there 

I was a little hungry since I didn't eat much for dinner so I asked for some dessert and also got some ice cream in the galley.

The green tea ice cream was creamy but the other dessert was just average

My mother and I chatted for awhile. She only slept for a few hours too. I used the lavatory again and spoke with one of the flight attendants. I asked him about the Maglev train however, it turns out this is his first time to Shanghai. He and others from the crew are being picked up and then taken on a tour. They will spend 4 days in Shanghai exploring the city.

It was at least light out now and we were somewhere over Mongolia but it just looks very brown.

Over Mongolia
We still have about 3 hours until we arrive in Shanghai. It was now time for breakfast. They offered 4 choices and we both had the Spanish omelette.

The veggies were good
The pilot announced that we will arrive at the gate 20 minutes early.

After a few more hours we viewed Shanghai from the air and the outskirts seems to stretch on forever.

Looks a little hazy

I am not sure if that is smog or just haze. Hoping the pollution is not that bad. After 10.5 hours we landed at the Pudong Airport in Shanghai.

PVG Airport

Shanghai, China

Shanghai is a city of 21 million people and is the financial center of China and its second largest city after Beijing. While I was drifting to sleep I was trying to remember the Shanghai scenes of the Pudong Airport in the new 007 movie Skyfall. The airport has two terminals but is not massive. Once we landed we made it to immigration and got to show off our brand new Chinese visas.

Copy of one of our Chinese Visas
The immigration official had us go through one at a time. They have a monitor that shows your photo and you are supposed to look at it so they can match you to it. It is very high tech. I passed and waited for my mother on the other side. We changed some money so we could take the Maglev and a taxi to the hotel. My one complaint about the Shanghai airport is the thick carpet once we exited the plane! Don't they know it is hard to roll a bag on this stuff? The hard floor in the rest of the airport was fine.

Maglev Train

The Maglev is the world's fastest passenger train and takes just 8 minutes to travel 19 miles between the Pudong airport and Longyang Road. It travels at a top speed of 267 mph (432 km). The technology was designed by a German company though there is no Maglev in that country. The train is elevated by magnets 10mm above the track which is called a "guideway". Other magnets provide propulsion and braking. There are plans to extend the line to connect the two Shanghai airports. The proposed 34 mile journey would take just 15 minutes!

The cost of the Maglev is 40 RMB with a discount for showing our boarding pass. We paid cash but you could also have charged it to a credit card. From here a taxi is about 20 minutes to the hotel on the Bund and cost 45 RMB. We could of also taken the metro which is cheaper but this is the fastest way to the Bund.

It does go very fast!

The Maglev was certainly fast but honestly not that thrilling. I was surprised the interior looks like it is from the 1960's with is cloth upholstered aqua seating. We enjoyed the short duration of the trip though. It was just an escalator ride down to the the second level and we crossed over to the taxi stand at Longyang Road. I had a copy of the directions to the hotel in Chinese and handed it to the driver. He nodded and we loaded the bags in the trunk and sped through light traffic to downtown. We arrived at the Sichuan Road entrance of the Waldorf Astoria on the Bund.

Waldorf Astoria on the Bund

This hotel has an illustrious past as the former Shanghai Club, a bowling alley, a casino and also as site of the first KFC in China. The building dates from 1911. It was shuttered for several years until a three year renovation restored the building to its former glory. The hotel opened in 2010 and has  white marble, glistening chandeliers and beautiful flowers.  We thought it would be unlikely to check but were immediatly greeted by Joanna our personal concierge and taken to our room.

Gorgeous River View Deluxe Double

Bathroom is behind the round window

And what a room it was! We are staying for just one night and have a Double River View room. I booked it  with Hilton Honors points. I have been emailing Mr. Wang, the head concierge for several weeks. So far the service has been fabulous.

View from the room which turned out to be even more spectacular at night

We went back downstairs to meet our guide for the day, Kelly. I booked Kelly through the private guide area on the Viator website. The cost for half day is just $90 (paid in Chinese currency) for the two of us. I sent Kelly a preliminary list of what we wanted to see. We decided to start with a walk down the Bund for sightseeing and shopping. We started our walk at about 11:00 am. The area of the Bund (known as Waitan) has been called the Wall Street of Asia. The promenade received a multi-million dollar makeover in advance of the 2010 World Expo.

Bund Promenade

We walked past the building at No. 3 which was designed by British architects Palmer & Turner. It is known as Three on the Bund and has several high end restaurants and bars.

No. 5 is the former Nissin Kisen Shipping Building and dates to 1925. Huaxia Bank. M on the Bund and Glamour Bar now occupies the premises. At No. 12 is the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank. It was completed in 1921 and has an impressive interior. We stroked the paw of the lion out front.

Lions in front of the bank

No. 13 is the Custom House and was built in 1927, also by Palmer & Turner. The clock tower is known as the "Big Ching" and is modeled on Big Ben.

We crossed over the promenade and viewed the Pudong side.

Shanghai's amazing skyline on the Pudong side
Pearl TV Tower

We continued about half way down the promenade of the Bund. The sun out and we had bright blue sky. It was not  smoggy at all. We noticed several "love stations" where you can take photo and post them.

Love Station

We finished our walk and then proceeded to our next stop, the Yu Yuan Garden. On the way we passed a shopping area.

Shopping Street

Stuffed Animals
Seat covers

Yu Yuan Garden

I wanted to take the metro but we were close enough to walk there.

Garden Entrance

Yu Yuan Garden was established in 1577 as the private retreat of Sichuan Governor Pan Yuan Duan. This Ming era garden has been restored and is touristy but still retains an interesting mystique in its classical setting. It is divided into six areas and has several manicured gardens and pavilions. The Garden is close to the original Shanghai settlement which was founded in 1533. The Yu Yuan Garden Bazaar is reinvented Ming era and a little too "Disneyesque" but is high quality.

The Bazaar
We bypassed most of the bazaar and headed to the Nanxiang Restaurant at 85 Yuyuan for steamed dumplings. There was a long line out front and we went up stairs to the restaurant and only had to wait 10 minutes for a table. We let Kelley handle the ordering. We had one order of Soup Dumplings and an assortment of others. Everything was delicious.

Soup Dumplings "Xiaolongbao"

The restaurant was very crowded
The restaurant is the white buidling

After lunch we toured the garden. We viewed the zigzag bridge called the Bridge of Nine Turnings. It's shape is to ward off evil spirits. From the bridge there is a view of the Huxinting Tea House.

Bridge of Nine Turnings

Kelly then took us on a tour of the rest of the garden. I am glad she was with us as it was quite large and confusing.


Inside Pavillion

We spent a little longer at the garden than I intended but there was a lot to see and it was well worth it.

Taikang Lu /Tianzifang

We made a quick detour through the Old City and then took a taxi to Tianzifang. This an area of old restored Shikumen stone buildings. There are now over 100 boutiques, cafes and bars in this area. Taikang Lu offers an area of artists boutiques and specialty merchandise is a nice contrast to the glitzy malls in the city. It is a bit confusing walking around here so I was glad we had Kelly to guide us.

 At Lane 200 we walked to Harvest Studio @suite 118. Miao Weavers sells hand embroider dresses and other items. We walked back to where we started and took a right onto Lane 210.

Entrance to Tianzifang

We were too tired to look at many stores. However we noted there were several interesting places. Red Dawn @suite 105 is owned by Dawn Zhu and specializes in jewelry. Marion Carsten located next door @suite 106 has fresh water pearls and silver jewelry. At Original Works Artists Studio there are 3 floors of working artists studios.

The street names are written in Chinese and Pinyin (phoentic). We walked around for only 25 minutes. My mother admitted she was too tired to continue. Kelly asked me if I wanted to go back to hotel and I agreed we were both just too tired.  We took a peak at a few more places as we headed out.

Teddy bear restaurant

Kelly escorted us back to a taxi and then to the hotel. Kelly was an excellent guide. It was pleasure to spend the afternoon with her.

Mother and Kelly
It was only about 3:15 pm but we were so tired! We went back upstairs to our room.

The Elevator area is very beautiful
Hallway to our room
Before I flung myself on the bed, I took some more photos of the room.

Another photo of our room
Gorgeous bathroom!

Toto Toilet was amazing!

The controls

At 5:45 pm we forced our weary bodies out of bed and went downstairs to get something to eat. It was now  dark outside and the Pudong skyline did not disappoint.

Amazing view from our room

On our way to find a restaurant we stopped at the Long Bar. It was recreated from archival photos to the last detail.

Long Bar

We decided try the Chinese restaurant in the hotel. Originally I had made a reservation at The House of Roosevelt which is on the other end of the Bund. However, we are too tired to go there tonight. This restaurant is part of a trading company owned by the Roosevelt family.

House of Roosevelt

The restaurant is located just across from the boat wharf. Roosevelt China Investments (RCI) is an investment firm based in Boston, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

House of Roosevelt (courtesy of 27Bund)

The chairman is Tweed Roosevelt who is the great-grandson of the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. He is also a nephew of the 32nd President, Franklin Deleno Roosevelt. The Asia operation of RCI includes private equity and retailing businesses in China.

The House of Roosevelt was established in 2010 with the redevelopement of the building located at 27 Bund. The mansion was built in 1920 and is architecturally impressive. Perhaps we can visit another time.

Because the Waldorf is so large and we had trouble finding our way, we had to be escorted the rest of the way to the Chinese restaurant. We took a quick look at the menu and then were seated at a table.

Waldorf Astoria Chinese Restaurant

The plates were very beautiful

We were not that hungry so just ordered some soup, Crystal River shrimp and a tofu and Eggplant dish. Everything was delicious.

Hot & Sour Soup

Crystal River Shrimp

Eggplant and Tofu

After dinner we went back up to the room and enjoyed the skyline view for about another hour.

The skyline panorama is the most iconic in China. We could view the Jin Mao Tower which was built in 1999 and is 88 levels. The Shanghai World Financial Center was completed in 2008 and is 101 floors. The Shanghai Tower is due to open in 2014 and will top out at an astonishing 121 floors.  It will be the second tallest building on earth at 2073 feet! The TV tower with its 3 prons was one of the first futuristic buildings to be built in Pudong. The view of the Pudong and its sci-fi buildings was amazing.

We had one last look before going to bed.

Favorite photo of the night

Tomorrow we will tour Shanghai in the morning and then take the train in the afternoon to Hangzhou where we will spend the night.

1 comment:

  1. I've been so busy; I've not been keeping up with any of the blogs on my dashboard. Now, I look forward to the rest of your story. The Waldorf is gorgeous; & your view......

    I did not see the sunshine while in Shanghai last winter. In fact, it was so smoggy/foggy, it was hard to make out all the buildings. Your night time photo is breathtaking. Can't wait to hear more.