Those who know China well over the years would tell you it has developed rapidly. In five years period you would not recognise it again. At least in the urban metropolises.
I drove by fast train from Beijing to Shanghai. Departing from Beijing Railway Station South. One of the three long-distance railway stations of Beijing. It is a giant modern building of glas and steel, filled by sunlight and appears to be three times the size of Hamburgs main railway station. The handling of passengers is similar to the one at the airport. Only you have to carry your own luggage on bord yourself. Luggage check through the xray box at the entrance like any entrance to the subway in town. You get quickly used to it.
For long-distance ticket you have to show your ID, as foreigner your passport. Your name and passport number are registered in the computer and printed on your ticket beside your seat number. To Shanghai there are many trains going simultaneously from the three stations, from this one nearly hourly.
It is 1335 km from Beijing to Shanghai. The fast train takes around 4,5 to 5,5 hours depending on the number of stops in between. On the long free run it reaches the speed of 310 km per hour which I did not feel. A single fare costs 553 Yuan (= 80 Euro). Anouncement in the station and train is bilingual in Mandarin and English.
Long-distance railway station is linked to the bus terminal, the subway network, and so also connected to the airport. A good set up they have to in view of the mass amount of passengers. I wouldn’t like to imagine how it is going to be when the Metro (how subway is called in Shanghai) would be out of service!
A subway / metro ticket in Beijing / Shanghai costs 3 to 4 Yuan (45 to 60 Eurocent) depending on the distance. You get a reusable ticket in the size of a credit card. At the exit the ticket is retained by the automatic maschine, and so avoiding waste. You can also buy a rechargable long-term ticket. The fare will be deducted directly from the card. A reasonable solution.
Arrival in time in Shanghai. There are only few metro stations to go to my prebooked accomodation in the French Concession, the former French quarter. Parts of the land around the old chinese city was conceded to France from 1849 to 1943 for a French settlement.
Today it is a exquisite housing area with many overseas branches and foreign inhabitants. Trees line both sides of the road, but also many high-rise buildings. Four blocks further from the metro. I take the taxi for 14 Yuan. My hostess prepared the adress in written Chinese that I only have to show it to the driver.
Born in Shanghai she left for California with 10 years of age. Now as a banker she works in California and Hongkong. Half an hour after myself she arrived in the flat returning from a holiday trip to Japan.
We shared the flat by half temporarily. A double bedroom including bathroom for each on either side. In the middle lounge and kitchen. All well kept, modern and air conditioned.
Yu Yuan Garden
Also named as Yu garden, near the metro line 10 with same station name.
Conceived in 1559 by Pan Yunduan when he failed one of the imperial exams to comfort his father, a Minister of the Ming dynasty. It took several years with delay to errect. Destroyed and rebuilt several times due to the ravages of time and wars.
It is one of the centrepieces of Chinese garden design.
Not least, a long Dim Sum buffet nearby.