Shanghai 2/5 to 4/5
We had a long drive from Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain) to Shanghai, because of the distance we did this on the super highways. To get into Shanghai we had about 17 highway changes. Even from 200kms out of the main city you could see the high rise developments lining the freeways. I suppose you need all that accommodation when there are 27 million people living in the area and more than 17 million in the city area. The construction is stunning, up to 4 levels of roadways stacked and criss crossing over each other. Definitely looking like a bowl of upturned noodles. We wanted to get to Shanghai early because peak hour lasts from 3.00pm till about 8 or 9 in the evening. Coming into the city the space age- Jetson styled buildings were architectural marvels, designed with flair, creativity and ingenuity.
We have Green our official Chinese guide who has the most efficient Sat Nav, ours are not living up to expectations and she lead us capably through stop start traffic to our hotel in Central Shanghai. If we thought this entry was stressful we had no idea as to the next day’s journey out to SAIC.
We left the hotel around 7.15am to drive across and out of Shanghai to SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) which build MG and ROEWE and other cars in China. They are one of the largest car manufacturers in China. The morning peak had already started and it took us more than 3 ½ hours to cover a distance of about 60kms. The traffic jam extended for kilometres. We were nursing Shamrock which had a sticking accelerator cable and then driving along we lost the rear brake lights and indicators and fuel gauge. Peter did an excellent job using international old fashioned hand signals when ever we need to change lanes or move to various exits. Poor Peter was copping it on all fronts because he had hurt his hamstring and medial ligament after we had been on the Yangtze dam cruise. So he was in a bit of pain.
At SAIC we were treated like royalty. We were given a fabulous tour of the manufacturing plant on electric cars and the whole process of making the car was demonstrated. The robots and self drive CarryAnts were impressive. They have over 5000 people working per shift producing 40 cars and hour and about 800 in a day. The plant doesn’t stop. They have massive fields of solar panels which help generate power surrounding the area and even have solar panels on the roofs of the car parking areas. We were escorted to a village where we were treated to an amazing Chinese lunch I think we had about 15 different dishes – the food just kept coming. Traditional Hainese Chicken, soup, pancakes with ham, dried fish, steamed fish, pork, beef spare ribs, heaps of different styled vegetable dishes some we had never seen before.
From SAIC we had to drive back across from the Western side of Shanghai to the Eastern side of Shanghai to the largest ROEWE and MG dealer who had offered his service centre to service our cars – this trip took 4 ½ hours. Each car had a hoist and 2 service guys who were willingly helped the guys with changing the oil, filters and rotating the tires. They were great and were also learning new things – such as what a carburettor was or a grease gun. Of course all modern engines are now closed systems and run with computers – not the old MGs. Our accelerator cable was fixed as was the fuse which caused the electrical issue. The PR people gave each car a gorgeous teddy bear dressed as Sherlock Holmes- complete with a pipe and cape and hat and a model toy car of the new ZX – SUV not available in Australia yet. By 7.30 pm we were done and had another 1 hour drive through peak hour traffic back to the hotel. Driving in at night was special because we were driving so slowly we could admire all the technicoloured light shows on the tall buildings.
We are well and want to thank all the people who have been writing comments to us and sending us their best wishes. We even had a comment from a gentleman we meet at the Tropical Botanical Gardens down South China. I still haven’t worked out how to respond to individual comments yet but am working on it. So a HUGE thank you to everyone – its great getting news and feedback.
Today we had a snapshot of Shanghai with a wonderful tour to the Bund, French Concession, the Beautifully serene Jade Buddha Temple and Waitan Quarter. Strolling along the Bund was impressive because across the river only up to 1986 there were rice fields now the area contains so of the tallest buildings in the world. As we approached the Bund we could see the top half of a huge tanker moving up the river. Quite an amusing sight if you didn’t know there was a river.
The Jade Buddha Temple was serene, having been rebuilt as were most of the sights here after the Cultural Revolution. The beautiful hangings of colourfully embroidered drapery, red lanterns and packets were gently swaying in the breeze. The chanting of the monks and clonk of the wooden drums competed with the hammering and drilling noise of the construction site next door.
Shanghai is another city to place on your to do list and we hope to come back for a longer visit in the future. Now Peter is preparing the car for another VERY long drive to Xuzhou and Qufu which is the birth place of Confucius before we continue onto the Tai Shan one of the 5 Great mountain of China and then onto Beijing via Ji’nan.