This morning (my time), I’m combing to you from 25 million strong Shanghai!!! For those of you keeping track, that’s nearly the population of Canada in one city!!!!
Yesterday’s journey started bright and early for the Husband and myself. Although, our flight didn’t leave until noon we made sure to arrive at the airport super early.
It had been our plan to arrive at YVR at 9am but due to ridiculously good traffic, we arrived at 8:30 instead. Frankly, I think arriving early is what allowed us to feel completely relaxed prior to our departure; we had time to have a proper sit-down breakfast, browse the gift shops, observe fellow passengers, and even charge our phones.
Our flight was with Air Canada and thankfully it wasn’t full. This meant I got to recline my seat quite a ways as there was no one behind me. Another thing that I couldn’t help but notice about our flight, was the extent to which it was free of people that were coughing or sneezing. I don’t know about you but I find that’s seldom been my experience on long-haul flights. Double score!!
At 12 hours and 49 minutes (!!!) this was the longest flight of my life. Thankfully though it was pretty smooth with no really significant turbulence to speak of (the only bit of which occurred the second we entered Russian air space). I will admit, however, that at about four hours in I was ready to get off the plane. That’s usually my fidget point on flights. Instead, I popped a pill and feel asleep for the next little while.
As the flight wore on we became increasingly tired (it was evening in Vancouver). In fact, the longer the flight wore on the less the length of the trip concerned us.
One thing we did notice was how very very very hungry we were on the flight. The portions of food were quite small and we were fed six hours apart. Like many of you, I usually eat much more frequently than that! My personal highlight on the food front was the Cup of Noodles we were served just shortly before landing. I will always remember the sounds of dozens upon dozens of Chinese people slurping their noodles. It actually caught me off guard and made me giggle.
We arrived in Shanghai shortly before 2am, Vancouver time. As we stepped off the plane we noticed how absolutely wasted we were from sheer exhaustion. Still, we were awake enough that we remarked on the absolute efficiency of the Pudong International Airport. Both the Husband and I mentioned that we had never experienced such a smooth process at any international airport. There were no crowds, the arrivals and custom halls were absolutely gleaming, the official process was so smooth, and there was no wait for our luggage.
During our time in Shanghai we’re staying at the Westin Bund Centre, located a short walk from the iconic Shanghai promenade that looks more like what one would expect of Europe than China. Thanks to the Starwood Preferred Guest program (of which I’ve been a member of for years) we got a steal of a deal on our fabulous hotel room. Due to our SPG status and our third wedding anniversary (which we are celebrating during this stay), we were also upgraded to a massive room (nearly as big as our Vancouver apartment) on the sub-penthouse floor.
When we arrived in our room, we were delighted to be greeted with a teddy bear and rose petals to celebrate our anniversary. Then as if that wasn’t enough, later on the kind hotel staff brought up a lovely bottle of Australian Shiraz Cabernet, along with two wine glasses to toast the occasion.
And as far as the room . . . my favourite part is the incredible view of the iconic Shanghai skyline and the gorgeous and massive bathroom.
I’m definitely going to ask housekeeping to send up bath salts so I can enjoy a late night soak tonight!
Despite the fact that we were ever so tired, we decided to make every effort to stay up as late as possible so as to adjust to our new time zone. Having said that, we were both fearful of falling asleep so we decided to wander around our large hotel rather than head out into the Shanghai evening.
We made it all the way until 8pm local time before our incoherentness and sleepy eyes led us to call it a night.
The hotel is very large and luxurious. From first glance it reminds me of the ostentatious decor of cruise ships and a cross of what I imagine Las Vegas to be like.
And as far as first impressions? Thus far it’s clear Shanghai is a very modern and well-run city. Clearly, it’s reputation as the “Paris of the East” is well deserved. In fact, I would say that during our brief time here Shanghai has seemed strangely familiar – like an amalgam of Latin America, Paris, and large North American cities. It’s funny how in today’s global age one can travel so far to find a place that seems surprisingly not removed from “home.”
Also impressive thus far, has been the service we have received from everyone – the customs agents, our driver that picked us up at the airport, and the hotel staff have all been superb.What is also evident, however, is that air pollution in China is very real as we have arrived during a bad stretch of smog in Shanghai. On the whole, however, I can definitely tell that we’re really going to enjoy this portion of our trip!!!
Now it’s time for me to get ready for today’s adventures, and to scare up some breakfast!
Signing off from Shanghai . . .
Question: Have you been to Las Vegas? Is this what it looks like?