Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beijing final day then Shanghai

A change of pace today I had a free morning before our flight to Shanghai mid afternoon so what to do. Not that I had time to think about it as over breakfast I was told that I would again be put in the car and the driver told to take me to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City as these are must see places in Beijing.
Well I certainly am not one to argue so off I went. The sun actually nearly made it through the smog today and while the extra light was welcome it did bring with it another layer of searing heat. So I got to the square and I must say with mixed feelings given the history here. And again nothing could have prepared me for the size and scale of this place, to say it is huge is a gross understatement they build things big here. And it was packed, tens of thousands of people here in the blazing heat and humidity, the water sellers were doing a brisk trade this day. It is amazing to be standing there surrounded by hundreds of years of history it is a lot to take in. As I walked around and took some photos I was again approached by families and groups to have their photos taken with me, equally bizarre as the when it happened at the wall.

Statue Tiananmen Square
Walking into the Forbidden City

  After walking around the square for a while it was time to head into the Forbidden City even that was an adventure. There were so many people there all trying to get in and you had to go over these little bridges to enter and you were packed in like sardines. Check out the thickness of the walls in the photo on the left. Once in the crowds did not let up it was just go with the flow and see where you came out. Those old emperors did not have it so bad living in a place like this I have seen worse digs.

So after a few hours exploring it was back to the hotel pack, change and onto the airport. Now in my first post I did mention the size of Beijing Airport but seeing it in the light of day WOW it just seems to go on forever. It is the largest modern man made structure that I have seen, you never want to be running late for your flight here as it is a bit more than a quick walk to your gate. So onto Shanghai ,again I had no idea what to expect but I was hoping that being close to the sea it may be a bit cooler, WRONG. While not as smoggy as Beijing, you could actually see the sky and sun here it was just as hot and humid. Now I have mentioned the driving before but our cab ride into the city was up there with the all time scariest experiences of my life. I got the back seat, no seat belts, and while there was air conditioning by the time we got into the city I was a sweating wreck. As well as the, what we had come to expect as normal road behaviour, this trip had the extra thrill of the driver thinking he should be driving an F1 car and not some very old clunker that was riding on its springs. The freeway into shanghai ,great, even had speed cameras every few km and the trick, or so it would appear, to avoid a ticket is to drive up to them as fast as you can then slam on the brakes for the last few hundred meters then take off again as if the hounds from hell are after you. Entertaining to say the least but I have never been so glad to get out of a car in my life. As we were running late we went straight to the restaurant we were dining in that night as my employer also is a producer of grain fed Tasmanian lamb for the export market and this restaurant is a major customer. The restaurant is called m on the bund and wow what a restaurant one of the best view's ever.

We met with the executive chef, an Aussie bloke by the name of Hamish, and sat out on the terrace overlooking the Bund river and the Pudong business district for a chat and a few more than a few cold beers. It was great talking to Hamish about his time and experiences in Shanghai. Unfortunately my camera had heat stroke and refused to work so no photos. Then it was inside for dinner I started with soft crab in a tomato consomme then the slow baked salt encased leg of lamb, sensational although it was a bit strange sitting at a restaurant in Shanghai eating Tasmanian lamb. The food and service were excellent and this is one of the few times that I have found a restaurant with a stunning view with food to match. Just sitting there looking at the changing view of the sky line, we are talking about buildings that have billboards built into the window glass that are stories high, and the boats with billboards as they went past on the river was an experience I will never forget. So after dinner it was time to go to the hotel in this case we were at the sofitel shanghai pudong and boy what a hotel. By far the best hotel I have ever stayed in everything from the check in service to the rooms fantastic. And as for the night cap in the 46th floor revolving restaurant stunning. Then it was to bed ready for our big morning at the best brunch I have ever been to. All that in my next post.


  1. Hi Simon,

    I bet it was weird eating Tassie lamb in Shanghai - glad the freight time didn't upset the quality!

    And now I realise why whenever I see photos of China they all look a bit faded - it's the smog. Can't believe it took me so long to work it out, I always thought it was something to do with old-style cameras!

  2. Have you tried dumplings and roast ducks? They are the famous and traditional Beijing dieshes. And also bird's nest soup? Its a delicacy in China.

    Enjoy your days~~~