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China last hurrah

Our last day in Shanghai saw us blatting around for a final discovery of places and things before taking a ride the world’s fastest train to start our journey home.

After dealing with the dreaded final day packing, we took the metro to People’s Square, encountering a most un-Chinese sight.

A mariachi band playing in the metro station!

A mariachi band playing in the metro station!

We walked through the square and adjacent park to get to Nanjing Road.

It was a lengthy walk, especially with the extra burden of a day-pack, but we were on the hunt for Jing’an Temple which was a decent stroll away. However, there was no way that was going to be a successful mission without first making tummies happy.

One of us was excited to find a fresh salad offering!

One of us was excited to find a fresh salad offering!

Jing’an Temple is a stunning Buddhist oasis in the ‘cityness’.

Jing'an Temple

It originated about 1700 years ago (!) and about 900 years (!) later was moved to its current location. (! = the oldness blows my tiny mind.) At some point it was rebuilt before suffering a metaphorical slap in the face during the Cultural Revolution when it was turned into a plastic factory. Thankfully someone’s sanity prevailed and around 30 years ago it reverted back to a temple and restoration activities began.

Today, from what we could see, it looks pretty impeccable. It was fascinating to watch people coming to light incense, toss coins (for luck) and pray. There are also many details in and of the buildings to pause for and admire.

We made our way back. During the day I noticed more examples of the Euro influence in Shanghai’s older buildings…

…and other details that were more rustically local.

letterboxes, Shanghai

In stark contrast were some amazing city vistas.

Shanghai

Shanghai

As well as some glimpses of its underbelly.

The most challenging sight I came across in China was this beggar. He moved himself along the ground using his arms. Was it genuine or a scam? In some places you need to take everything with a grain of salt. In any case, it's a pretty sad desperate way to make a bit of money.

The most challenging sight I came across in China was this beggar. He moved himself along the ground using his arms. Later though I wondered: was it genuine or a scam? In some places you need to take everything with a grain of salt. In any case, it’s a pretty sad desperate way to make a bit of money.

After some final repacking madness in the hotel lobby it was time to set about leaving the country. As part of that, Mike had planned one last unique experience: we’d get to the airport via the maglev – the world’s fastest commerical train.

There are more direct ways to get to the airport but that wasn’t the point. We took the metro out to the maglev (magnetic levitation) station in Pudong, where the 30km ‘demonstration operation line’ starts. This track has been in commercial service for about 10 years and is specked to 430km per hour but ‘only’ operates at around 300kph. The distance from station to airport takes eight minutes. By now it was dark so there wasn’t much to see, save for our own reflections :/.

We emerged into the airport and that was it, trip over. Not counting another half-day squished into a flying metal tube.

Shanghai Airport

We booked the trip on a kind of whim which was a bit strange as China didn’t really feature among my travel must-dos. I guess I didn’t have high expectations either, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

This series has taken a long time to conclude so thanks to those who have been on the blog journey with me! In the last year or so I’ve found that I’m really only able to chip away at this on the weekends, which has been frustrating given there’s a lot that I want to do. As a result my backlog has grown huge and I’ll now think about how to start tackling that. Not a bad problem to have :).

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11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Reblogged this on mailvarun92.

    29 March 2015
  2. Hayley, I’m not sure what happened with your last post but I tried to leave a comment (several times) and it wouldn’t let me 😦 I’ve really enjoyed your China trip. Your photographs and commentary have been spectacular. Thanks for taking us on this inspiring and wonderful ride. A feast of colour, history, culture, fun and food. Brilliant xxx

    29 March 2015
    • Drat! Sorry you had technical issues Lottie, but thank you for trying, I’m glad it worked this time! Thanks for your wonderful remarks. x

      31 March 2015
  3. Haley, this was a lovely and interesting series of posts about your China trip. I learned quite a few facts about China that proved very interesting. The Temple, very unusual in the midst of the city and the bullet train is something else. I found the most interesting photo was of the men who were playing a game surrounded by other men- all of them- in, deep concentration. That pic, to me, shows so much human interest and tells a story. Thanks for the vicarious trip to China.

    30 March 2015
    • Very glad you could come along Yvonne :). The societal observations were as fascinating as the architectural and we saw many groups of men playing e.g. chess and cards. Never women though!

      31 March 2015
  4. A Mariachi Band in China! That could be the name of the next big vocal sensation. 😉 “Ladies and gentlemen, appearing on stage tonight: AMBIN!!!!!”

    And, what did the 300kph rush feel like? I imagine smooth and streamlined.

    (And, your salad looks as if it was delicious!)

    31 March 2015
    • I was so desperate for fresh vegetables! It wasn’t a great 10 days nutrition-wise. The maglev speed must’ve been similar to the bullet train we took a few days before, and yes very smooth – from memory a bit harder to gauge the speed though because of it being dark outside. Thanks Cindi!

      31 March 2015
  5. Great words, great photos, great post!

    18 April 2015
  6. Hayley, I’ve been catching up on your epic china trip blog posts. I’ve really enjoyed them all, and the beautiful photos. It looks like such a fascinating place – thanks for sharing your trip.

    20 April 2015
    • Hi Carringtonia – thanks very much, and for taking the time to read them. I have your Aussie posts saved in my email backlog!

      25 April 2015

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