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December 30, 2012

Bottle opener

Shanghai, 3 C, clear with chilly wind, GMT +8

I apologise if I have misled you with the name of this post, as it refers to the nickname for the Shanghai World Financial Centre (SWFC) rather than any beer drinking paraphernalia. You can understand why when you see the design of this building (above centre) by the architect Kohn Pederson Fox.

Last night I could feel my hotel (the Pudong Shangri-La) vibrate slightly in the strong gusts of wind. When I spoke to the concierge at breakfast, he said that this is normal, and that’s why there are no lights hanging off the ceiling, as guests would see them sway! I’m only on the 22nd floor of this hotel, but this morning I ventured out onto the skybridge on the 100th floor of currently the World’s tallest (roof & occupied) building – the SWFC.

Finished in 2008, it was once the third tallest in the world, and is next to two other super high buildings, making this currently the tallest cluster of buildings in the World.


For 150 RMB (£15) you get to take an elevator up to the 94th floor, an escalator to the 97th floor and then a lift to the “skybridge” on the 100th floor at 474m. Did I mention that I have a fear of heights and a crushing fear of falling from heights? I must be mad to take on this assignment..


I discovered that I was fine on the relatively solid feeling 94th floor, but knowing that on the 100th floor all that was beneath you were some thick glass tiles made my knees wobble, and I had to cross mostly without looking down. I was able to grab hold of a railing and take this picture, but it wasn’t the most relaxed I have ever taken! I was in fact quite relieved to get back down to ground level.


Shanghai seems to be a great blend of tall and ultra modern, as well as low rise and traditional – it gave me a bit of a “Bladerunner” feel, as does my next port of call, Hong Kong.

I was originally going to take an overnight train to Hong Kong, but I must confess that I’m flying. The reason is a bit sad and domestic. On my journey so far I have been able to “buy out” my own compartment at night, giving me the necessary privacy and space. My Chinese train agent was not prepared to try and do this for me on this route, wanting passport numbers for each berth, so I gave up in the end. That might seem a bit defeatist, but after all the other planning done for the trip, I just decided to officially end the train journey in Shanghai and travel by plane.

With hindsight an overland journey from Beijing to Bangkok or Shanghai to Singapore would be a good advanced level train travel test, and maybe one I will do in the future – it has a mix of visa, border and timetable complexities that six months ago I might of not imagined I could take on, but now I feel I quite fancy the challenge of!

So I am now packing for tomorrow – the Maglev trip to the airport, and – yikes – a 20kg luggage allowance on my cheapy plane ticket. I shall have to adopt the uniform Chinese approach of trying to carry everything on as hand luggage..

Bye for now.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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