Little Garcia in Big China

Big delay since my last post…sorry. You see, I’ve been a wee bit busy traveling to ASIA! This is part 1 of a two part post. China in this post. Korea in the next. Light on words, heavy on pics, because we all  know that’s the good part!

Having surprisingly found myself working in the heart of the shipping industry, a trip to Asia was inevitable.

My colleagues go back and forth often with a very casual approach.

I, on the other hand, constantly fought to keep the excited kid tucked neatly inside, for fear that one might see that I’m really just a big, easily delighted child, pretending to belong in a grown up world.

My itinerary was Zurich to Shanghai, on to Busan, South Korea, back to Shanghai to then return to Zurich. The experience did not disappoint; it stretched beyond my expectations on so many levels. I was so pleasantly surprised on so many occasions, letting go of many preconceived notions I had built through ignorance over time.

We were there for eating, I mean meetings. Darn it. It was for the meetings, I swear.

But oh the eating…

It is no exaggeration to say that there is more of me returning from this trip. Things are considerably more snug. I now understand the impressive dedication my colleagues who travel the most, commit to a routine of daily fitness. It is survival. My 7 minute bike commute isn’t going to cut it.

There were meetings, many. With lovely and clever colleagues I rarely get to see. Seeing their world has forged stronger relationships. Their generosity in hosting us foreigners was humbling. I blame them for my ill fitting pants. They treated us to the very best their culture has to offer. It was amazing.

The trip spanned two weekends which gave us time to explore and discover. And wow, did we ever. That’s what I’ll share here, the delights of our moments to explore. And the food…

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Here we go! Excited like a little kid!
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This is getting real… considering the recent hostility between China and Canada, I was aware that I needed to stay out of trouble. There is no ability to be anonymous in China. You are watched very closely. Thankfully I was able to avoid any drug dealing scenarios.
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The processing at the airport is extensive and thorough. Shanghai Pudong airport processes 100,000 people every day. You can anticipate some time in line ups. I have a special gift of not being able to sleep on planes so standing in lines after a 12 hour flight is very special.
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Finally processed, we arrived at our hotel. 9:00 am China time, 2:00 am our time. We begged for an early check in which was not available. But they did let us go to an empty room to have a quick nap before our meetings. Time for a drink later.
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That evening was the New Year celebration for our China office. This is the menu – goodie, all my favourites! (Our first meal since the flight. I was tired and starving!)
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Nope, not part of the party food…this is a tiny glimpse of the breakfast buffet. Dumplings with dried meat floss (top right), dried shrimps (top left), onions and pickled peppers. Delicious beside my morning muesli.
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Finally got to bed at 11:00 pm after an exhausting first day. The next day was Saturday so we were free to explore. Shanghai rental bike style.
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My colleagues and fellow Shanghai exploring adventurers.
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The bikes fit some of us better than others.
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Stopping along the way to take photos.
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We started at the bridge behind us and rode along the river into the downtown, along the area which used to be all shipyards. (Notice in all the photos so far, we are the only people. For a city with a population of over 24 million, there were surprisingly very few people out and about!)
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We biked to a ferry terminal for a ride across the river.

 

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Arrived at the skyline view. Most of the towers behind us have popped up in the last 10-12 years. The development in Shanghai has been exceptional recently.
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After biking and exploring we were ready to eat. The lunch feast was incredible.
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After what felt like 18 courses, they served dessert. Yum! Custard and mango. Nope! Steamed egg and pumpkin. Not the dessert taste I was expecting!
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With fueled tummies we were ready to explore. We made our way to the Yu Garden. Not quite our idea of a garden. It’s a beautiful Taoist temple called the City God Temple. Especially decorative for the upcoming New Year celebration.
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Beautiful temple buildings.
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New Year lanterns everywhere.
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My partner in crime, Treanne. Thank goodness we travel together as well as we work together. And we finally found where all the people were!
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So exactly what I imagined I’d see in China.
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Local’s selling their wares along the way.
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Another view of the temple buildings.
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A pretty bamboo forest along the way too.
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After more exploring we were ready for a cocktail. This display was in the hotel with a roof-top bar.
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The location couldn’t have been more impressive.

 

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The view from inside.

The skyline view.

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Pretty shopping district in the Tianzifang District.

 

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People come to Shanghai for the shopping…we understood why.
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Right in the heart of the shopping district was an amazing Buddhist temple. It is one of three temples believed to have been visited by the actual Buddha. They say his finger bones are here.
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Even Buddhist Monks have smart phones.
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Monks at the Jing’an Temple.

The monks sharing a song.

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This is marriage corner at People’s Square. Rows and rows of umbrellas all displaying information about their child – searching for a potential marriage partner.
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Chicken feet anyone? They’re really quite tasty. Tricky to eat because you have so many little bones to spit out. I did not try the dish on the left. I figured trying the feet was adventuresome enough for one lunch!
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The Shanghai World Financial Center, one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world. And check out that spectacular blue sky!
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The view from the top. Mind boggling. You can see the smog in the distance but really a remarkably clear day.
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The view the other direction. Beyond the red bridge (where we had rented our bikes) are the shipyards.
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Waiting to board another ferry – in the thick of a crowd of people. Feeling very authentic.
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Walking along “The Bund” which runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River in the eastern part of Huangpu District. See, these crowds are not what you expect in a city of 24 million on a beautiful sunny Sunday!
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Here is an example of just how closely they are watching. Towers with cameras are EVERYWHERE. It is a very safe city. No one would dare do anything wrong. You WILL get caught.
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A very European feel to the Bund area.
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Even stopped in for scones and tea (make that a cappucino please) at the Fairmont Peace Hotel. Had a very NCY vibe to it.
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Pretty decor at the Peace Hotel, dates back to 1929.
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How do you follow up high-tea at a Fairmont? Why with soup dumplings from a street vendor of course.
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All edible…I think.
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Heating indoors is not a given. This bar, Kommune, popular with the expats, hands out hot water bottles to all it’s customers. Classy!
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And they serve their mojitos hot in a vintage thermos. You had me at hot mojito…
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The nighttime view by our hotel.

Just in case you are doubting that this was actually a work trip, I’ll throw in a few final shots to prove it.

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Visiting one of our engine manufacturers.
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That’s a pretty big engine!

Stay tuned for the second installment of my adventures in Asia. I’ll cover Korea in the next post. But jet-lag is a bitch and I need to go to bed…

One Comment Add yours

  1. Joy Olesky says:

    Believe it or not, we stayed at the Peace Hotel when we were on our cruise in China. It’s the swankiest place we’ve ever stayed! The bathroom was huge and lined in marble. When we went for dinner, all our fellow travelers said “Did you take a picture of the bathroom?” We loved the massive flower arrangement in the lobby.

    Love your posts!

    Joy

    Like

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