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Tue, 7 Oct:  This was another major travel day as we made our way to Hong Kong for an overnight stay en route to Shanghai.  We arrived at the airport early so we could enjoy the hospitality of the Qantas Lounge (one of the OneWorld alliance members).  Then, we boarded our Cathay Pacific flight in early afternoon for the 11 hour flight to Hong Kong.  We enjoyed great service, food and in-flight entertainment and the time passed very quickly.  Upon arrival in Hong Kong, we passed through customs and immigrations formalities and then transferred to our airport hotel for the evening.

Wed, 8 Oct:  This afternoon we arrived in Shanghai, our home for the next five days/nights.  Again, we had a great flight (and pre-flight lounge time) on DragonAir.  We arrived in Shanghai at 12:30PM and cleared customs & immigration.  Then, we caught the Meglev High Speed Train into the city.  The train takes only 8 minutes to cover 19 miles.  Can you believe?!  We were traveling faster than our favorite Nascar drivers move on the track!  After finishing the train ride, we then caught the Metro to reach our hotel, the New World Mayfair Hotel.

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The futuristic Meglev High Speed Train

Ed riding the Shanghai metro,
our main means of transport
around the city

[ T O P ]

The New World Mayfair was an absolute oasis!  We arranged to stay on the Executive Floor and it was fabulous.  We enjoyed a beautiful room with access to a lounge serving breakfast, afternoon tea and pastries and evening cocktails and canapés.  The food was delicious and there were many varieties and the supply of goodies was unending.  We had no need to eat outside the hotel.  The New World also gave us unlimited high-speed internet, local calls and great concierge service.  So, needless to say, we spent the balance of our day enjoying all the creature comforts one could imagine.

Thu, 9 Oct:  After taking care of various business matters requiring our attention, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the lounge.  Afterwards, we went to the concierge, Stephen Chen, and arranged for an all-day tour scenic tour of Hangzhou on Friday.  Then, Mr. Chen arranged for us to have a driver & guide for an afternoon of touring.  It was only when Mr. Chen arrived at our door at 12:00 noon that we discovered he would be our guide.  Talk about great service!

We began the tour at Langchao Temple, a Buddhist temple which is still in use today.  It was exceptional.  Outside the Temple is a seven story, eight-sided pagoda from the 10th century.  Then, the Temple itself consisted of a group of buildings, with each being devoted to Buddha in a different way.   Many of the statutes were gold leaf over wood while others were painted wood.  They were all beautiful.  After spending time there, we next went to a silk factory and a jade factory.  Finally, we went to a viewing point where we could see across the Huangpu River and had great views of the Oriental Pearl Tower and the amazing backdrop of skyscrapers.  The Oriental Pearl Tower is 1,535 feet tall and is the highest in China.  We also stopped at a tea house to sample various Chinese teas.  All in all, a great day learning about this diverse and beautiful city.

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The main building of Langchao Temple

The pagoda of Langchao Temple

Ed and Lindy in the
"1,000 Buddha" room in the Temple

The Eastern King of Protection
in Langchao Temple

(He's a pretty fierce looking guy!)

The Western King of Far Sight
in Langchao Temple

(He's a bit scary too; note the
snack around his neck!)

Look at the many, many arms
of this golden goddess

Looking at the Oriental Pearl
Town and downtown from
Changhai's Bund area

Ed and Lindy enjoying the
beautiful gardens of The Bund

[ T O P ]

Fri, 10 Oct:  At 9:00AM we and nine other tourists began the drive to the city of Hangzhou along with our guide, Asante.  The drive took approximately three hours and we didn’t clear with environs of Shanghai for the first hour and one-half.  Needless to say, within town the roads were absolutely jammed and half the time our driver was making his own lane out of the shoulders! 

Hangzhou is famed for its natural lake and its setting in the hills.  Many of Shanghai’s wealthy escape the city and enjoy this peaceful location.  We began our day by first enjoying a delicious lunch at a local hotel.  Then, we walked in a park along the shores of West Lake.  Here we took a cruise of the lake.  It was a misty, cloudy day which is evident in the photographs.  However, the cruise was relaxing and very serene.  After the cruise, we went to Lian Ying Temple, one of the most famous Buddhist temples in China being built some 1600 years ago.  There are great rock carvings outside the temple and these were truly outstanding!  We ended our touring at the Dragon-Well Tea Plantation which sells green teas produced on the hillsides around Hangzhou.

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A view of a gondolier on West Lake

A traditional boat on West Lake
with a pagoda in the background

The giant Lian Ying Temple

A beautiful female Buddha housed
in Lian Ying Temple

Buddha carved from the
face of the rock outside the Temple

A beautiful traditional garden
at the tea plantation

Tea trees
(we didn't know they were trees;
instead we thought tea plants
were bushes)

[ T O P ]

We left the Hangzhou at about 4:30PM.  We finally made it back to our hotel at 7:55PM due to the traffic we encountered once we reached Shanghai.  Thankfully, it was just enough time to rush up to the Executive Floor and enjoy wine and snacks before the close of happy hour.  One of the staff members, Fanny (Fei is her Chinese name) had saved a plate of dim sum for us since she knew we were out touring.  How sweet!!

Sat, 11 Oct:  After a relaxing morning, we decided to go to see two temples.  We took the metro to Jingan Temple and it was directly across the street.  The Temple originally was constructed in 300AD; it currently is undergoing renovations.  Again, it was filled with beautiful statutes of Buddha.  After exploring this temple for about an hour, we next headed to the Jade Temple.  After making a couple of wrong-turns, we finally arrived at the Jade Temple an hour later.  It too was a beautiful complex of buildings.  Approximately 100 monks live at the Temple.  We did see the gorgeous Jade Buddha which is housed in its own temple.  However, no photographs are allowed.  In that same complex, however, we were able to photograph a reclining Buddha which is carved of stone.  Seeing how ornate this statute is you can imagine one carved from jade.

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The entry to Jingan Temple

An interior courtyard in Jingan Temple

A reclining Buddha from the
Jade Temple complex

[ T O P ]

After enjoying the Jade Temple, we set out to find the nearest metro station.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t one nearby so we took a bit of a scenic tour – actually a very long one.  We finally found a metro at about 4:00PM.  We had walked so far, we only had to ride two stops before we were once again at our hotel.  Oh well, walking some 5-7 miles is good when you’ve been enjoying the Chinese cuisine like we have!

Sun, 12 Oct:  After our exercise on Saturday, we decided to take it a bit easier since this was our last day in Shanghai.  So, we headed to two opposite sites – Old Shanghai and People’s Square.  Stepping into Old Shanghai was like stepping into another world.  The structures likely haven’t changed in many generations and never have the customs of morning markets and afternoon lunch sitting on stools in the alleyway.  It was fascinating!  Afterwards, we visited People’s Square and People’s Park, both constructed under the Communist regime.  The park was beautiful and was filled with many people enjoying a beautiful afternoon. The Square was flanked with Party buildings and the avenue adorned with China’s flag.

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The Old and New Shanghai

A typical street in Old Shanghai
(note the outside sinks)

A vendor selling fresh fish

Peoples Square

[ T O P ]

We returned back to our hotel to enjoy our final evening there before leaving early in the morning for a two-day stopover in Bangkok prior to beginning our adventures in Bhutan, India and Nepal.  Shanghai was a wonderful experience and we truly enjoyed all of our time spent there!

Continue to our next stop - Bhutan