The Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce visited China last fall. Here is the final installment in this series about the trip.
Our bus trip to Shanghai was uneventful, we traveled a road similar to our Interstate highways. This part of China does have highway rest areas with western facilities, coffee shops, convenience stores and food vendors, but credit cards and U.S. currency were not accepted.
Usually, our tour guide could change some small bills for us. When we arrived in Shanghai and got checked into our hotel, some of us wandered across the street for dinner. While some went for McDonalds — there are a lot of McDonalds and KFC’s in China — some of us ventured into a local restaurant. The menus had pictures that we could use to order — as no one at the restaurant spoke English and our Chinese wasn’t any better (despite the efforts of Sophie Hennings!) — and we had one of the best meals of the trip.
Our hotel was located near Pilot Free Trade Zone, a huge free trade zone established in 2014. The hotel, a Crown Plaza, was again a very nice hotel — quiet, clean and comfortable. Another outstanding breakfast to start our next morning and most of our group took a short bus ride to the Mag-lev Train terminal. The train runs from the outskirts of the business district in Shanghai to the Shanghai airport, a distance of 19 miles. The train reaches a top speed of 270 mph and covers the distance in eight minutes. The train was very clean, quiet, on time — and fast! Don’t blink when meeting a train going in the other direction or you will miss it!
We then went to the Bund, a waterfront park along the Huangpu River. On the park side, dozens of historical buildings that once housed numerous banks and trading houses from the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Italy, Russia, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as the consulates of Russia and Britain, a newspaper, the Shanghai Club and the Masonic Club. Most of the buildings were built in the 1920s of various architectural styles, including art deco. Across the river, modern skyscrapers fill the skyline, including the second tallest building in the world, the Shanghai Tower, standing 2,073 feet tall. Other structures of note include the Shanghai World Financial Center and the Oriental Pearl Tower, seen in many photographs of the area. The area is very visitor friendly, with lots of photo opportunities. This was another area where lots of Chinese wanted their photos made with some of our group.
We then traveled to the Shanghai Silk Rug Factory to learn the process of making silk rugs and the wide range of quality in rugs. These silk works of art take weeks of work to create a single rug. Many of the patterns look different depending on which way you look at them. Lunch today was Mongolian BBQ, and quite an experience. Thinly sliced meats, vegetables and sauces of choice were put into a bowl, and then cooked on a rotating griddle. Another excellent meal! We then traveled to the old town bazaar, where bargains were to be had on every alleyway. Our guide took us to a meeting point and we were on our own to explore, shop, or just relax and have tea until dinner time. After dinner, most of the group went to the ERA show, a fantastic acrobatic and theater show. Fast paced, exciting and rated the number one show in Shanghai, it features a human powered wheel and eight motorcycles inside a steel ball! Another great day in China, and after a good night’s rest and another buffet breakfast, we started our return trip back to Yadkin County. We “made up” the day we lost on our journey over, departing Shanghai a little before noon and arrived back in New York at 2:30 pm on the same day, and then on to North Carolina.
Some observations — lots and lots of history in China, and the people there are knowledgeable and proud of their history. We saw many talented, artistic craftsmen at work in various places we visited. As a rule, the Chinese people are very friendly and receptive — a smile is a smile in any language! Our group traveled very well together, all reported a great time, and looking forward to our next adventure — Ireland! The Chamber is putting together a trip to Ireland for this fall, so call us for more details. Thanks to The Yadkin Ripple for allowing us to share our experiences in China.
Bobby Todd is director of the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce.