A Trip to Shanghai, Beijing and Xi’An
Excerpts from a diary, September 2013
Before leaving the UK we had to get visas to visit China. This takes much longer if your trip includes going to Tibet. You can apply for the visa online. In the space where it asks who has invited you, it is acceptable to put the name and address of hotels where you will be staying. We went to the embassy in London to collect the visas.
Friday: Taxi arrived at 11 (David still packing) and drove us to Heathrow.
Virgin flight to Shanghai.
Sat opposite a boy who I swear is an actor but who claimed heworked for Ebay.
Shangai airport was very efficient. We had to give ‘customer feedback’ at immigration by ticking smiley faces.
Taxi to Le Meridian Hotel (艾美酒店) on Nanjing Dong Lu.
Note: Taxi drivers do not speak English nor read the English version of hotel names. If you do not speak mandarin, there is a man at the taxi rank who will translate for you but you will need to queue. It is much faster if you go online before leaving home and print off the Chinese name from the website.
Driver was friendly and found my bad Chinese very amusing. Chatted a bit.
Le Meridian Hotel was lovely (we have stayed there on previous trips.) The lobby is dark with pools of water and orchids. I thought they were glass disks – nearly got a wet foot! It also smells lovely, a jasmine perfume.
Our room had great views down towards the Bund.
Had tea at the hotel, then walked down Nanjing Dong Lu. This is a main shopping street and whilst the shops are fairly ubiquitous, the signs are all in Chinese script and there are street sellers selling unusual fruits and trying to entice you to buy fake designer goods (which is illegal, so best not to!)
Walked through the ‘Peace’ (Fairmont) Hotel. They were having a tea dance. One day I want to stay there, it looks like a lovely old colonial hotel.
Walked along the Bund. This is the water front to the Huangpu River. Across the water you can see the amazing skyline of Pudong (the financial district.)
Along the Bund are all the old colonial buildings from Victorian times, it is like stepping back in time. It is lovely at night to walk along beside the river, seeing the lights and watching the city wake up for the evening.
We walked back to the hotel via the lanes (I would not want to do this at night, though it might be safe.) There were lots of interesting shops, street hawkers and food stalls.
One food seller was very insistent that I taste some fruit she was selling, she kept just telling me to taste it. So I did! How stupid. I cannot believe I did that. Worried I would be ill for rest of the trip.
We ate dinner in the hotel buffet. This was a mistake. The food was lukewarm, not especially nice and cost a fortune. Next time we will eat in the lounge, which is included on David’s card (I am beginning to like him doing business trips. I can manage to not see him for a few days every so often if he gets nice treats on his travel cards!) The hotel lounge has drinks and hot snacks whenever we want them and also has a full breakfast and evening cocktails. It has big comfy sofas with great views towards the river.
Went to bed exhausted. A really really long day (actually, two days rolled into one.)
However, I didn’t sleep until about 4am. Not good.
Thanks for reading. You can read the full version in my new travel book: A Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary.
A sort of “Bill Bryson meets The Durrells” – for people who like to laugh and enjoy travel.
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