I was concerned that my reservation at Captain Hostel in Shanghai would not exist. My dream came true today. The plane landed in Shanghai and the maddness began. I should have accepted the offer of a fellow passenger to help me get a taxi, but I wanted to take the hotel shuttle bus. We landed at 3:00 pm, and finally at 4:30 pm I found the correct shuttle and we were on our way into Shanghai. The English signage at the Pudong airport is very much lacking. I'm overwhelmed - my lack of mandarin is greater than I thought, and my pronunciation is not understood my the chinese. Very few people spoke English at the airport. Fortunately for me the Chinese are a very caring, helpful and persistent people. If it wasn't for the help of one official who got me to the shuttle and the shuttle bus driver, I would probably still be at the airport!
The shuttle bus got stuck in major traffic coming from the airport, as such he couldn't do his normal route. I was the only tourist on the shuttle. He explained in chinese something about the Central Hotel, and 10 yuan (this was all I understood). I thought he was telling me that the Central Hotel was better than the hotel I wanted to go to - Metropole. He was persistent, and stopped at the next hotel to find someone who spoke English. The conceige explained the situation to me, and said that I could take a taxi to the hotel for 10 yuan. By this time, I was tired, hungry, and didn't want to go anywhere but a bed. I looked at the conceige, and asked "How much to stay here?" I knew that I had missed the 6:00 pm cutoff for reservations at the Captain Hostel, so I had to get another hotel - why not the one I was parked in front of!
The doorman took my packs, and I entered the world of the Peace Hotel - doormen with white gloves, a lady who just stands in the lobby to hold the elevator open for you, marble floors, coloured-glass ceilings. After checking in I walked down Nanjing Road (next to the hotel). This is one of the major shopping streets in Shanghai. It was 7:00 pm, and the place was packed, mostly with locals.
China is a land of contasts. The drive from the airport showed beautiful highrise apartments next door to shacks. In the downtown, the contasts continue to appear. Beautiful new cars (Lexus, Audi, high-end Nissans) vie for space on the same street as ancient bikes laden high with folded boxes. Water is delivered to downtown businesses via "Water-bikes". A push-bike with a double-wheel backend onto which a storage device is added (see photo to be uploaded soon).