March 22nd 2009 - Shanghai

March 22nd 2009

4 nights in Shanghai ....

A hectic beginning of this past week was quickly turned into something slightly more interesting, as Paula and I flew to Shanghai on Wednesday. I had gone for an inspection on Geoje Island on Monday and had had late inspections on Tuesday, so with an early morning flight from Busan Wednesday morning, the menu for the beginning of the week was work, work and for desert ... work!

We were picked up in Shanghai Airport by John Zheng, Ingo's colleague in Shanghai. He drove us out to the shipyard, where I was to inspect two of our cargo tanks. The shipyard has recently been moved from downtown Shanghai to an island in the Yangtze River, and as the tunnel to the island isn't finished yet, everybody have to take the ferry over to the island. When it is foggy, the ferry doesn't cross and many thousand workers are left stranded ..... this fortunately didn't happen to us.

One of our cargo tanks in China

Container cranes being shipped off on the Yangtze River

Once on the island I started the inspection while Paula hung out at the office. 4 hours later I was done, as were my knees. Squatting and walking around on the curved surfade of the inside of the tanks really got the better of them. After the inspection John took us through the frantic Shanghai traffic to our hotel right on Nanjing Road in downtown Shanghai. At night he invited us for German sausages and spectacular view at the Paulaner Brauhaus in the Pudong District. As if it wasn't weird enough eating German sausages in China, we bumped into one of the two people we knew in Shanghai right there ! Anna - Daniel Louys' (another of Ingo's colleagues) girlfriend walked right past our table...

John and the German sausages!

A view across the river to the Bund and Downtown

Early next morning I was picked up at my hotel and brought to the shipyard for another inspection - this time of the oputside insulation of the cargo tanks. Again I had a chance to take in the huge size of the shipyard. At the moment it is 4 km in length, but in a few years it will probably be the biggest shipyard in the world with 8km in length and fantastic facilities. Depending on the financial crisis, of course! But the plans are there ... watch out, Huyndai !!

I got back a bit late so Paula and I just managed a short walk around Nanjing Road before deciding on a Japanese a la carte-buffet (!) for dinner. It is nice to have a choice ... in Ulsan it is sort of given what you will eat if you eat out! Needless to say, we took advantage of the situation and absolutely stuffed ourselves on sashimi, sushi and ramen!

Looking for a place to eat.

Next day we changed hotel as my work was over and our "holiday" started. We prefer the hostels to the hotels when we vacation and our choice in Shanghai was a good one. The Sleeping Dragon Hostel is a nice small hostel in the "real" Shanghai - for better or worse! Definitely more authentic than Nanjing Road. Also a lot dirtier (not the hostel - the night market just down the street). But it was good to see this side of Shanghai also, as I suspect the majority of the Shanghainese live like this.

The nicer buildings in the area of the hostel. Notice the laundry.

In the afternoon we went to the Jade Buddhist Temple. It is a really nice temple with some very nice crafts, but I was somewhat disappointed by the souvenir shops dotted all over the temple. There was hardly one single room that was not equipped with a souvenir stall - even in the prayer halls could you by a paper clip or have your own stamp carved. What the temple did have was a beautiful man-sized jade Buddha. No souvenir stall there (but just outside the door there was one!).

Inside the temple grounds

Monks at the Jade temple

At night we hooked up with Wolfgang Kossmann. Kossman is another colleague of ingo's and has spent much time at our yard in Korea. You might have seen him on these pages before! With him and his wife and daughter we first tried to take the metro to another Paulaner Brauhaus (there are three in Shanghai!), but changed our minds when we saw how stuffed the metro was. So we walked it instead. My knees were only just recovered from the inspections (a nice Jacuzzi at the hotel had helped) and Paula was feeling the wear and tear as well, but the night views of Shanghai kept the pain away. For the second time in three days, we found ourselves eating Sauerkraut! We had a really nice time in the Brauhaus, with a bit of live music and lots (LOTS...) of other customers! Good business ....!

Walking around a newbuilt (but in traditional style) part of town. Katherine, Paula, Jessica and Wolfgang.

Next day we went out to a WaterTown in the Western suburbs. It was a long trip out there in the metro, but it was well worth it. We had expected an authentic WaterTown, but got a face lifted one instead. With loads of national tourists. But it was still nice, even though it was "fake". From here we went to the French Quarter. Paula's knees were messing up now, so we only got to see a very small part of it. Instead Paula wanted to go on a city tour, so she could rest her legs while seeing the town. Her interest faded when she realized that it would set us back US$60 a person !! It was getting late anyway, so we decided to drop it and walked down the fancy shopping street instead. Paula's spirit rose when she found out that the H&M shop was nearby and for a few minutes her knees didn't hurt at all !! haha .....


The Chinese Venice ?!?

Cherry trees in blossom

We finished off our time in Shanghai at the hostel - relaxing out work bodies. We managed a short walk-around in the night market by the hostel - window shopping for pig snouts and cow stomach!!!

So what is our impression of Shanghai ? Well - we are glad we have been there and seen what the fuss is all about. I don't doubt that Shanghai has a lot to offer (a lot more than what we saw..) but I must be honest and say that I wouldn't like to live there for any extended time. There is just too many people there and the city is too big for a country boy like me! The Chinese are in general more agreeable than the Koreans seen from a foreigners point of view (more English spoken, more smiles, less pushing and spitting), but it was still a very mixed impression we left with.

Shanghai as we saw it !

Below you can see more photos from our trip: