Everybody I know travels to China repeatedly it seems, but I haven’t for a decade or more, and that was Hong Kong, so herewith the Shanghai-newbie experience.
Unfortunately, it’s a long way from Vancouver; a 12-hour flight.
Fortunately, I have lots of upgrade certificates.
Unfortunately, biz class filled up weeks ago.
Fortunately (depending on your viewpoint) there was a connection problem and I got the second-last upgrade.
Unfortunately, it was an old Air Canada Boeing with the horrid seats that cut off circulation to points below your thigh within minutes.
Fortunately, I know how to work around this with pillows and so on.
Unfortunately, I had an aisle seat and I like to look out the window.
Fortunately, there was an empty window singleton. Huh? I thought biz class was full?
Unfortunately, the three empty seats in biz class were that way because essential systems, like lean-back, or fail-to-randomly-lean back, were broken. Also about half the seats’ video systems were malfunctioning. One assumes the engines and so on were in better shape.
Fortunately, I had a sympathetic neighbor and that helped pass some of the time.
Unfortunately, a bunch of jumbos landed simultaneously and I found myself in an endless hallway with a countably-infinite number of people surging toward immigration.
Fortunately, they had a countably-infinite number of immigration stations and I was through in under five. For a one-party state, arrival processing is kind of cursory.
Unfortunately, there were line-ups at all the bank machines.
Fortunately, things in Shanghai, while expensive by Chinese standards, are still pretty reasonable.
Unfortunately, to realize this, you have to deal with the fact that a Canadian dollar is worth 7.77RMB more or less.
Fortunately, Shanghai airport is sanely and efficiently laid out and I was in the taxi line in no time.
Unfortunately, so were several hundred other people.
Fortunately, there were several hundred taxis pouring in to get us.
Unfortunately, my taxi was a klunky old Volkswagen.
Fortunately, it had gleaming immaculate white cloth covering the back seat.
Unfortunately, that cloth completely covered the seat-belts, which couldn’t be reached.
Fortunately, the driver didn’t turn on the TV monitor in the back of the passenger seat.
Unfortunately the driver was a complete fucking madman, gleefully dicing with death.
Fortunately, he was a pretty good driver and a plurality (not a majority) of the other drivers stayed more or less in their lanes most of the time, so I arrived alive, and the fare was only 139RMB (divide that by 7.77 in your head, I’m sure you can do it).
Unfortunately, the sky was grey and lowering and the scenery between the airport and downtown mostly pretty unprepossessing.
Fortunately, the Shanghai Shangri-la is a lovely hotel, with competent staff. The quarter must be going great, Sun normally doesn’t patronize this kind of place.
Unfortunately, my room’s windows are filthy. On the other hand I’m only on the 8th floor and the view would be kind of grim if I could see it.
Fortunately, this is one of the swankiest hotel rooms I’ve ever stayed in.
Unfortunately, I can’t find the controls for the curtains.
Fortunately, I have a few colleagues also rolling in tonight.
Unfortunately, I can’t find them, and I’m hungry, so I go downstairs to the sushi bar. For a guy from Vancouver, this is almost as egregious as going to McDonald’s in Paris.
Fortunately, the sushi is excellent.
Unfortunately, it’s expensive even after dividing by 7.77.