A short trip to China.
A short trip to China.
A short trip to China.
This was a short trip to beautiful Shanghai mainly consisted of visiting good friends and dinner out.
This wasn’t a site seeing trip, but more of a dinner out with numerous friends and family. This trip started in Hong Kong moving north to Xian, east to Shanghai, north to Beijing and then back home to Seattle. I have flown into Hong Kong before, but never spent any time there until this trip. Unfortunately, it was cloudy the 1 1/2 days we spent there. As usual and par for the course Linna and I didn’t read up or book any tourist activities but relied on our natural instincts and just started walking.
We did some shopping in the Causeway neighborhood and then found Hong Kong’s most famous dim sum restaurant – Maxim’s at City Hall. Once we saw the long-line, about as long as some homeless line in Seattle for free food, we knew we should have left our hotel earlier. Our total wait was a little over 2 hours…was it worth it? Oh hell no, but we were committed by this time.
During our walk to the renowned Maxim place, we were wondering why there were so many woman hanging around chatting and having lunch in such odd places. Approximately 300,000 foreign housekeepers (maids) are working in Hong Kong and by law they must live in their employer’s house. Every Sunday is their day off which means they are not allowed to stay at home, almost like being thrown out every Sunday. So they end up spending the day outside in all types of weather and seasons. They congregate year-round on Chater Road in the center of Hong Kong Island and it’s closed to traffic. Every place near the metro station Central where there is a few yards of available floor space, a maid will rolled out her carpet and put up camp.
After a few hours in Hong Kong (it seemed liked) we flew off to Xian, which is located in central China. You think the middle of China would be smog free, but for some reason the area becomes unbearable with smog at times. Xian has a population approximately 8 million people and was the starting point for the Silk Road. We spent four days in Xian which is plenty for any city; we spent most of our time visiting friends and family over lunches and dinners.
Another Chinese flight and we were in Shanghai which is probably my favorite Chinese city due to its cleaner air and Shanghai’s magnifignat skyline, great restaurants and of course the famous Bund Street. I had day excursions to Wuxi and Wujiang but was back in my hotel in Shanghai each night. I had a great dinner with my friends Jiapei Qin, Rong Li, Jie Qi Cao and his wife Quane Luan at this new restaurant in Wuxi called the Fusion Club.
I had a conference in Beijing later in the week and I decided to take a train to Beijing from Shanghai this time…and after this experience I will probably never take an airline flight between the two cities again. For the same price you can experience a business class seat with good food and a completely folded out seat versus a cramp coach airline seat in a stuffy hot airplane. The ride was a relaxing 4 ½ hours but I was able to get some work done and squeeze a peaceful nap in too.
Beijing was raining when we pulled into the Beijing South train station, I was actually happy to see the sky filled with grey rain clouds versus the heavy grey smog. This city usually runs well over 250 AQI (air quality index), but during the rain it was actually in the double digits. But it doesn’t take long for the smog index to creep back up, the next day it was already in the three digits.
This was my third trip to Shanghai this year and traveling in the raining season worked out just fine for this Northwest Seattle boy. It rained every day I was there which created horrible traffic but also provided clean fresh air.
If you looking for huge views and a hotspot for a cocktail with friends or guests, you will need to check out Cloud Nine near the Bund. You will need to step on 3 different elevators to reach the 87th floor in the Jin Mao Tower, this sky lounge will give you a 360-degree view of Shanghai from one of the highest points in the city. After a cocktail was dinner at Mr. & Mrs. Bund with friends enjoying the French cuisine from Chef Paul Pairet.
A trip to Shanghai in April can be a bit cool for most people, but high sixties during the day was fine for me. This was a 6 day visit which is almost perfect for an international trip. I stuck around Shanghai most of the time except for a day visit to Wuxi and Xuzhou via train and car.
I started my 2014 travels with a direct flight from Seattle to Shanghai and met up with a friend the next morning. We took a taxi to the fairly new Hongqiao train station located next to the domestic airport and subway station. We took the G-series bullet train up to Xuzhou, China for the day. This city is most well-known has a transportation hub and is located between Beijing and Shanghai.
Any train designated the G series will be China’s new bullet trains. For a business class seat you pay much less than you would a crowed coach airline seat. Even though the train ride is three hours long, you get a non-crowded quiet car with very comfortable wide leather seat that lays flat for sleeping. Plus you get an electrical outlet for your computer or phone that also works with the American plug. You receive a full meal which reminds me of a TV dinner growing up. I highly recommend G series train travel when roaming in China. Please keep in mind that foreigners will need their passport to purchase their ticket.
This was another enjoyable trip with friends, travel and fantastic dinners.
It’s not every day you get a clean, clear blue sky in Beijing, in fact…we had two beautiful smog free days back to back. But, we were not that lucky on the third day and beyond…it was back to its normal filthy pullulated self. I was visiting Beijing for a few days with a couple of other friends, Rick Massie and Brendan Jackson both from Seattle too.
Besides visiting the usual Forbidden Palace and Tiananmen Square, you must visit the 798 Art District, www.798district.com this place has some cool funky ass shit and you will need three hours or more to see it all.
Of course when dining, one must experience Beijing Duck….which I did three nights in a row!