I'm back, but not on the Ancient Silk Road where I left you all in Xian last month. That trip will have to wait for another time. I want to tell you about my trip to Shanghai with some clients, partly to see this commercial capital of China, and the Expo, but also to explore some of the picturesque towns and cities in the area (Xitang, Hangzhou, Huangshan or Yellow Mountain, and Hongcun), all in 2 weeks. This first part covers Shanghai and Suzhou. Thanks to Bonnie, Sugar and Peter for making all this possible and for contributing some of their photos.
Upon arrival in Shanghai by plane, we took the maglev train from Pudong airport, and yes got up to 431 km/hr (260 mph) without feeling a thing!
July is probably the worst time to visit Shanghai since it is still in the middle of the "huangmei" season which means wet and sticky weather everyday. This year, it was combined with high temperatures. We were ready for some refreshing watermelon, but wait, these weren't for eating! The delicious 'sanjian' fried dumplings were definitely for eating though! I'm not sure about some other items on this menu, want to try?
It's not surprising many cases of sunstroke were reported at the Expo. Can you imagine lining up for one or even two hours to get in to a pavilion? How about in a rainstorm? Well that's what I and 500,000 other people did that day at the Shanghai Expo, which I first wrote about in May. (By the way, 500,000 is also the number of free condoms that will be placed in Expo-designated hotels).
And I was told the country pavilions are not the most interesting - one should go to the other side of the river, Puxi, to see the organisations and urban planning pavilions. More than 34 million visitors to the Expo have been recorded, see official website http://en.expo2010.cn/
Suzhou is a popular place for a day visit to see its Chinese gardens. Just as Shanghai used to be the "Paris of the East", so this city could be the "Venice of the East". As you can see, we were in time to see the lotus flower bloom. See next part for rest of trip.