Trip to Shanghai: Day 1

So here it is!  Day 1 of our Shanghai adventure.  The flight from Manila to Shanghai would take a little over 3 hours and I loved the flights that we booked because we would arrive in Shanghai really early and leave really late, thereby maximizing our time there.  We booked our flights with China Eastern, which had the cheapest rates after much research.

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Oh that beautiful sunrise!

Manila to Shanghai travel is 4:55AM – 8:10AM.

Shanghai to Manila is 11:45PM – 3:40AM.

A special shoutout to our friend who generously went out of his way to take us to and from the airport! 😀

To prepare for the early flight, we had an early dinner the day before and slept after dinner until about 11PM.  We then left the house at midnight to head to the airport since we planned to be there by 2+AM.  The airport line was reeeeeeeally long when we got there… because the counters weren’t open yet!  It was nice to see though, that the airport has really improved and that there were a few benches to sit on while waiting.  Not sufficient considering the number of travelers, but still an improvement.

The flight with China Eastern was okay.  I did my research so I knew what to expect.  It’s not spectacular but I was satisfied and I wouldn’t mind flying with them again.  And oh!  That look on hubby’s face as he felt his first dose of cold spring air?  PRICELESS!

So! Too long of an intro already.  After stepping off the plane and getting our luggage, our first task was to get train tickets.  We needed to get 2 tickets — the roundtrip maglev train ticket and a 3-day unlimited subway pass.  The maglev train tickets can be purchased cheaper when buying round trip, or when buying on the same day as your flight (show your tickets and passport).  It went up to 431 km/hr!  While the hubby is not keen on riding buses and trains when he’s not driving (he says he gets dizzy), the maglev was terribly smooth and you won’t feel a thing.  The only indication of movement is the moving scenery outside your windows. Also, the train was very roomy.  The passengers on board occupied less than a quarter of the available seats.  There was also lots of legroom and a big storage space for luggage.  The train itself is quite an attraction as all the passengers took out their cameras as the screen showing the current travel speed climbed to over 400km/hr.  Everybody started snapping away during the top speed mark!  The ride is relatively short (about 8 minutes) and would save you 30 minutes of subway rides.

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Maglev from the airport.

 

After the bullet train, we still needed 2 subway exchanges to get to our hotel.  Here is tip #1.

TIP#1:  The subway system in Shanghai involves a lot of stairs.  Bring only as much luggage as what you can carry up or down the stairs.

In our case, we had 2 luggages for our (almost) week-long travel, and some carry ons.  Hubby carried a medium-sized suitcase and his camera bag, while I carried a smaller wheeled duffel bag and a big backpack.  We did okay but the stairways are crowded so it is still quite a feat.  Sometimes there will be escalators going up but none going down.  Also, the subway map is relatively easy to understand and has a lot of English names scattered everywhere.

As we got off the final station, I kept my eyes open for the available shops.  I did see a small convenience store and a bread shop (yep, no need to worry about breakfast).  The hotel is very close, about half a block away.

Might I take a moment to point out that Marriott Rewards has the best loyalty program ever?  Earning points is easy, redeeming is easy and convenient, there are so many choices, and their service is impeccable. I have tried several hotels during international travel and so far Marriott has impressed me.

So here we are entering the lobby of the hotel. Feels really cozy and I feel better already.  We were allowed early check in since a room was already available, so we dropped off our luggage and freshened up before we went exploring.  One weird thing we noticed was that there was a glass wall between the bed area and the shower with some electronically-controlled blinds.  It’s okay since I’m travelling with my husband, but I still think it’s weird.  We kept the blinds down for our entire stay. Because doing otherwise would be weird. Eeek.

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Waving from inside the bathroom.

 

 

So after a short rest, we were ready to go exploring.  First stop is crossing the river to the Pearl Tower.  On the map below, our hotel would be somewhere to the left of the big interchange called People’s Square, and the Pearl Tower is across the river with the purple icon.  You can tell that it’s shaped somehow like the Eiffel Tower, but with spheres (pearls) in between.

We positioned ourselves at one of the elevated pedestrian crossings to take a snapshot.  It was wide and there were several others who were taking the same tourist-y photos.

First stop -- Pearl Tower

Photo from chinatour.com

There were also a number of interesting buildings aside from the Pearl Tower, and lots of greenery.  From what I read prior to the trip, the Shanghai government intentionally put up a lot of public parts to balance its rapid urbanization.  And the gardens were very pretty and colorful and definitely picture worthy.

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The famous Pearl Tower.

 

We then decided to have an early lunch at a place called South Beauty.  I generally am okay with cheap eats during travel, but will set aside one or two better meals to try.  This was one of them.  We ordered 3 dishes and one of them was a tad bit too spicy for me.

After lunch, we walked around outside some more before heading off to meet some colleagues from our company’s Shanghai office.  They took us to dinner at a restaurant that used to be an old train station.  The hallways were decorated with some antiques for viewing but the food was the highlight.  If you asked me where the best meal for the trip was, it would be here.  They also grew their own vegetables so you know your ordered greens will be fresh.

 

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Our table had a view of the vegetable garden and an old train.

 

 

One other thing to note is how the city is scattered with so many mini parks.  While Shanghai is known for being a highly urbanized city, their local government has tried to combat this by placing lots of green spots for their residents.  And I think it’s awesome how they really beautified the environment.

We returned to the hotel early to get some rest and recuperate from the lack of proper sleep from the previous night.  This is always a good idea.  Nobody wants to get sick during travel. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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