12 hours and 43 minutes later we touch down in Shanghai after a flight over the top of the world. The new mapping app on the personal entertainment screens on the Dreamliner have opened the world. You can choose a cockpit or either side window view of a simulated google maps image of the landscape as well as an overlay of the flight details including attitude of the aircraft! However, after a few (complimentary) drinks, it was an effort to prop up the eyelids with even the cocktail stirsticks!
Disembarkation of the fully booked flight was on the tarmac since all the loading spots were taken up at the terminal of one of the busiest airports in Asia. By the time everyone staggered down the portable steps that were maneuvered into place and made it across to the buses that ferried us to the terminal, all alcohol had evaporated. Being seated at the back of the plane meant that although we were close to the bar (and the toilets) we had to contend to be the last off the plane (apart from those needing help deplaning).
The long snaking line for the border control officials was hurried along by helpful personell haphazardly removing barriers and directing streams of people to different lines. As usual, we always seem to have been stuck in the slowest line but that wasn't the worst of our problems. After collecting our bags and making our way out to our waiting host in the terminal, we learned that one of our group had a suitcase missing and would have to fill out paperwork to claim it. That ended up delaying us by another hour or so after an exhausting day, so tempers were fraying but fortunately everyone managed to keep it together.
The friendly tour guide who introduced himself as Sky helped load our luggage on to the bus that was there to pick us up for the hour drive into downtown Shanghai where our hotel was located. The highway into the city was quite busy for that time in the evening so we contended with a slower than normal drive into the city which, for the most part, was parallel to the MagLev train from the airport into the city.
Our KOVA hotel (run by Howard Johnson) was well appointed and a welcome respite after the long day. Since we didn't have anything scheduled for the evening, we decided to eat in the hotel restaurant which was offering a seafood buffet. While looking over the menu, we found out that there was an authentic Chinese restaurant on the floor above so decided to check it out. Big mistake... the smell of the aquarium with live fish was evident from the entrance, much before we entered the ordering area where models of the food matched picture descriptions and prices. We beat a hasty retreat back to the more familiar seafood buffet which featured (warm??) beer among the unlimited drinks available. Ice managed to make the extra-light beer palatable while we indulged in the huge selection of Chinese delectables including a wide range of locally sourced seafood.
We retired to our rooms as fatigue set in and enjoyed the comforts of this first 5 star hotel night in China. I think I had fallen off to sleep before my head actually touched the pillow and was completely dead to the world until waking up at 3:00am unable to go back to sleep. We were both wide awake and decided to call it a night and try to get online. Free high speed wifi made getting online a breeze but my main venues were blocked so decided to get onto TeamViewer VPN and log into my work computer with worked flawlessly. After getting and responding to my email and making a few Facebook updates, it was time to get going to be ready to open the breakfast buffet. Thinking we were going to be the only people there, we were surprised to find the hall humming with many other early risers all getting ready to go out on their own excursions.
We were scheduled to visit the Shanghai Museum after a drive through the city to enjoying the modern high rises juxtaposed with the old colonial architecture