Amsterdam - HongKong - Shanghai - Beijing
KLM-flight to Moscow OK. Upon arrival in Sheremetyevo I turned out to be the only transfer and was waited for by an army of security staff. Shoes off, belt off, through the scanner. Killing time on the mega inspiring Sheremetyevo. Boarding well on time (5 minutes before scheduled departure time). Flight SU212 to Hong Kong took off....
|Amsterdam - Moscow||Genital muscle||Menu of the week||Hong Kong tram|
Arrival in Hong Kong on the 17th. Swift customs and baggage handling on this immense new airport. Used the Airport Express and subway to get to my IBIS hotel North Point. The weather was downright awful. Heavy showers and thunderstoms. Spent the rest of the day scouting the neighborhood.
Wednesday 18th nothing special, just wandering around and trying Hong Kong on for size.
April 19th was well booked. Went to Ngong Ping to visit the Giant Buddha. The most spectacular way to get there is by taking the over water Cable Car but it did not operate because of the extreme storm. The bus should do the trick then. The buddha is immense: 34 meters tall, weighing 250 tonnes. To reach the base of the statue one has to negotiate 268 steps. Well, the view was already breathtaking from the first step...
|Big Buddha (s)||Disney metro||Hong Kong, seen from Victoria Peak||and again in the evening|
After a total wash out on the mountain back on the bus, and went for a huge outlet to dry up a bit. I was not the only one who came up with this idea. The crowds resembled the yearly mass-sale-event back home in the local Bijenkorf or V&D. This was worse!! It made me tough though, am determined to visit Ikea on wednesday afternoons from now on...
After drying up went for a quick glance at Disneyland Hong Kong. The trains shuttling there are specially designed for the purpose; windows shaped after Mickey Mouse.
|Hotel Venetian in Macau||Timetable HongKong - Shanghai||
Dinner in HK-Shanghai train:
April 20. Daytrip to Macau. Being an administrative part of China, it is still accessible without any visa. Our EU-passport suffices. Macau is Asia Las Vegas and it is all about gambling. It used to be a Portuguese colony and the proof is all around.
To get there takes one hour on a fast ferry catamaran. Since the rain did not let down I registered for an organized "covered" bustour to get a general impression of Macau. The area is not too bad, but the mega hotels (up to 3000 rooms) somehow ruin the appearance.
The "Venetian Hotel" left me speech- and breathless. Impressive and immense! The Venice canals and gondolas were imitated indoors. The ceiling was like a clear blue summer sky.
A nice sidestep but the weather could have been better. Back to HK for the last evening.
April 21. Bye Hong Kong. Ferry and bus to Hung Hom railhead to take the sleeper train to Shanghai.
One hour underway a clanking and rattling minibar-on-wheels made it through the corridor. Food! Basically the Dutch proverb "Anything the farmer does not recognize, the farmer is not going to eat" applies to me but in this case I made an exception to the rule and bought a meal for € 1.80.
No idea what it was, but the taste was OK actually.
|Shanghai by night||..high altitude||Business district||Shanghai by day|
Break of translation marker
A nice and comfortable night on the train. Arrival in Shanghai at 10am. Customs control. Train consisted of 25 cars, quite longer than we are used to in Europe. The passengers from Hong Kong were separated from the locals and were passed via a Nuclearscan through Customs and baggage check. 15 minutes later I was outside, in China!
April 23. Busy day ahead. First a visit to the 474 metres tall “Shanghai World Finance Center”. The Skywalk on the 97th floor, at level 439m offers a breathtaking view over Shanghai.
Walking the Huang Pu river promenade, and took a ferry across to book a river cruise. Feet up and enjoy the scenery for some hours. Sunny and warm! Back in the hotel I was met with my traintickets for the next day.
April 24. The train to Beijing. Took the subway to the railway station, being part of the largest transport node in China. Everything from planes to trains, buses, subway and taxis converge here. The inevitable luggage scan, and on the the immense waiting space (10,000 sqm) of Hongqiao station.
|Shanghai station||Train indicator||My train to Shanghai on the left||ICE in China|
April 25. Teaming up with Onno and Augusta. Spent the day visiting the Tian-a-men square and the emporial palace. Ending the day with a visit to Jingshan park with a view over Beijing and the palace.
Some personal observations and first impressions of this country:
Tomorrow we are going to visit the Great Wall. From this point onward the travelog will be a co-production with Onno, starting on the next page.