More specifically Shanghai, China. By now you should all know that my love for travel runs deep. I’m an, up for anything type of girl. So when I found out our flight had a few layovers in China I was immediately stoked. Never-mind the fact that several friends were terrified for me, and there was a government warning on American’s traveling into the country. It was the same level of caution that the U.S. gives for traveling to Paris so how bad could it be right?! While I definitely was not scared for my life being there, many other challenges arose. Hopefully once you read this blog post it will help you if you ever find yourself on a 12 hour layover in Shanghai, China.
Wednesday, February 27 the hubs and I get on a Delta A350 from Detroit to make the 15 hour flight to Shanghai, China. We have a row all to ourselves, movies locked and loaded, and a bag full of snacks. We are ready! After watching 3-4 movies (ha!) we finally fall asleep and wake up in time to land. Mind you, we left in the evening Wednesday and landed in the evening Thursday. Exactly 7:20 pm Shanghai time. We had a 12 hour layover and expected to have time to eat dinner at the bund then slide into our hotel for a good nights rest before flying out early the next morning. Boy, did our night go differently.
The very first thing to be noted is that China is not a country in need of tourism. YOU WILL BE THE MINORITY. I knew this, but it didn’t really hit me until we needed help and couldn’t speak to anyone. Nor was anyone really stopping to take the time to try. We were very groggy getting off the plane, as you can imagine after a terrible nights sleep in an upright plane seat, and Brooks left his laptop under his seat. He realized it immediately but was not allowed back on the plane. Instead we were told to go to lost and found and they would help us. WRONG. They barely spoke English and said it was never found. What?!? So that is how we started the whole trip. Spending wayyyyyyy too much time in the Shanghai airport, filing claims and trying to get his lost computer back. Finally we realized it wasn’t happening and decided to go make lemonade out of lemons.
Here’s the deal, if you are staying in China for more than 3 days I believe, you need a Visa. And if you are only staying for 24 hours or less there is a different line. So if you are only there for a short layover like us, REMEMBER THIS! Grab the blue entry card that says 24 hours (not the yellow entry card) and look for the line for that particular pass. It should be much shorter! We waited in a long immigration line just to be told we had to go wait in the correct line. Rookie mistake. The 24hrs line was mostly a line of businessmen coming for a day or less.
Finally we’re out!!! Now to take our bags to the hotel. (We were switching airlines to go to Bali the next day. Long story, but I think I explained more in my last post of how I chose the flights). When you leave the airport, just like other major cities, there are taxi stations. The biggest problem here is NO ONE SPEAKS ENGLISH, and no one really cares to try and help. In other countries it seems people are practically begging you to get in their cab, not in China. We later found out just how different their taxi system is, but for now we are simply just trying to get from the airport to our hotel. We show the taxi driver the address and he looks at us like we have four heads. Finally someone has a translator app on their phone where we can actually enter the address and it puts it into google maps. Thank goodness our phones work all over the world, or we would be screwed.
The hotel is about 20 minutes away from the airport, and 40 minutes away from the city. So keep that in mind as well, the airport is far away from Shanghai itself. It’s actually closest to Disneyworld, hence the reason we went there on our way back home. Once at the hotel things start to go a bit smoother. The receptionist speaks English and is able to assist us with getting a ride to the airport the next morning, and a cab into the city. SIDE NOTE: I’ve been to many countries before where communication is hard, but in China it’s not only that they don’t speak English, their alphabet is symbols. So even showing them street signs does nothing for them.
We haven’t eaten. By now it’s after 9:00 pm. I think we are more exhausted than we are hungry. We had the driver take us to Shanghai tower, the second largest tower in the world, with the highest observatory deck. As we were getting closer we wished we would of had the driver take us to a restaurant with a view of the tower, but we couldn’t change it up now. Our hotel had given him the address, and that is where we were headed. By the time we got out of the car it was after 10 pm. There was no one out on the streets, and it was cold. The skyline was all lit up and gorgeous, and we decided this might be our only opportunity to experience it. So we ran around the buildings in awe and snapped a bunch of pictures. We both agreed Shanghai has one of the most unique skylines we had ever seen. BUT, we wished would of went to the bund to view it from the start. There really was no need to be right up against the Shanghai tower. It was so tall, it almost made you dizzy to look up. And the observation deck had closed so we couldn’t go in anyways. Now we had to try and find a cab back!!!
This is when reality really set in. NO ONE COULD HELP US! Everything was closed and every taxi just buzzed by us. We later learned that there is an app that people in China book their cabs through. So when taxis looked rude for not stopping it was simply because they were on a mission to pick up a passenger. We finally got a kind man to help us but we had a decision to make: do we go back to our hotel and call it a night , leaving sour memories in our head, or do we make it to the bund, grab a late bite, a night cap, and turn this thing around (with a chance we would be stranded getting back to our hotel later). I bet you can guess my vote!!! I picked a restaurant called the Vue inside the Hyatt. It was voted best rooftop bar AND it was inside a hotel. Score!! We got there, had a great time, found many other late nighters like ourselves, and lots of culture. We had the perfect view and the drinks were superb. The waiters spoke English and treated us great. They were then able to call us a cab at the end of the night, and we got back to our hotel safe and sound. I was very glad to be leaving on this high note.
So my overall thought is. Anywhere around the Bund area is more focused on international exchange. You have a better chance of finding an English speaking waiter, driver, shop owner, etc here. Also it’s just easier to get around in this area. The water is gorgeous and you can’t beat the view of the skyline. I was sad to not have been able to experience it during the day. Maybe we’ll be back?! If so these were the areas on my list that time did not permit.
A ferry on the Bund
Go up the Shanghai tower
Now on to Hong Kong!!