We arrived in Shanghai on April 10, 2013 and were pleasantly surprised as our local tour guide was waiting at the airport for us with a large printed sign with our names on it. We had paid for this service but were apprehensive as to whether it would be provided as advertised. She assisted us with our bags and sent us on our way to the hotel with an English speaking driver. I makes you feel good when everything starts out right! Our hotel was the Shanghai Marriott so we expected good service there; however they went overboard with great service, a great room and in-room free Wi-Fi. I would give the hotel a 5-Star rating. We were even met by our National Guide at the hotel, Jason Song, who would accompany us throughout the entire tour. Yes we had two guides through out the tour. One from the local area and Jason who ensured everything went smoothly and also filled in some background info with the local guide. Entering China was easy. First we stood in line for about 20 minutes to go through Immigration where they checked our passport and visa. That took maybe 3 minutes then to bag claim where our bags were waiting. Free bag trolleys were found through out China's airports. We then handed our customs declaration, which had been filed out on the plane , to the inspector and were out the door where out guide met us.
I am not sure what we expected to see when we got to China but it wasn't the large cosmopolitan city we found in Shanghai. Unfortunately smog is a major problem in all large Chinese cities. As you view the photos you will note the sky is not blue, it is a hazy yellow and buildings at a distance are fuzzy. Yup, that is smog! China has many autos along with coal fired power plants, the air can be seen! Our eyes burned the entire time except while we on the Yangtze River. And ever there, when we hit a large city it was bad. If you have respiratory problems, we strongly recommend against visiting China.
Freeways and interchanges abounded through out the parts of China we visited. And, yes, they were as full of traffic as Las Angeles!
Note the landscape planters along them.
These are buildings from Shanghai's colonial European past. All are in excellent repair and in use as office buildings.
Shanghai skyline along the Bund or riverfront. Yes, the buildings are obscured by smog!
I have no idea what this "building "is but it was spotted along the riverfront near a river cruse ship.
Each small section of the wall is a
flowerpot set into the side of a concrete frame. Flowers of the correct
size, color and texture are then planted to make up these geometric
Our next stop was the Shanghai National Museum.
Hand carved jade bowels and figures that are hundreds to thousands of years old.
And then there was this happy, chubby fellow to make us feel good.
These canoes were on display at the entrance to the museum. I believe that they are reproductions
The game of Chess originated in Asia. It is believe to have existed in China from the third century BC.
Chinese cash coins originated from the barter of farming tools and agricultural surpluses. Around 1200 BC, smaller token spades, hoes, and knives began to be used to conduct smaller exchanges with the tokens later melted down to produce real farm implements. These tokens came to be used as media of exchange themselves and were known as spade money and knife money. Many Chinese coins have holes. These holes allowed coins to be strung together to create higher denominations.
From the museum we stopped
at a small garden area bounded by shops, one of which just happened to be a
American Ice Cream shop! Guess what we had for lunch? The lady with the red flag was our local guide.
These entry walkways were fashioned from tiny pebbles embedded in mortar.
Dragons abound in
China. Most are considered good luck like the top two. Note that
they have something in their mouth. It is a pearl. Pearls are
considered good luck as well and are believed to give the dragon musical powers
such as flying. Note that Chinese dragons do not have wings.
The dragon depicted in the bottom photo must be a "Bad Dragon" as the warriors are about to put an end to him.
On the morning of April 12 we visited a silk factory before boarding our plane to Yichang and boarding our River Cruse ship.
The double cocoon silk is stacked to form a quilt or comforter batting that is then encased in a printed silk cover to make a bed cover. These comforters are extremely soft and warm.