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.
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.
Jing’an Temple is a stunning Buddhist oasis in the ‘cityness’.
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.
In stark contrast were some amazing city vistas.
As well as some glimpses of its underbelly.
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.
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 :).