Gochugaru Girl has a lot of catching up to do.
A month has nearly passed since our sun-filled trip to the Far East.
London at present is wet and dull, and whilst Mr Goghugaru and I have been playing at being tourists in our own city, I am mindful that there are articles and photos to post. It’s just been an extremely busy time at church and at home, but I will make a start.
The next few posts will be on Shanghai followed by Hong Kong, with perhaps an article on Korean films (the London Korean Film Festival is on at the moment) and eating out in London.
Things I knew about Shanghai before this trip could be summed up thus:
Shanghai Tang (clothes, handbags, home wares and the most beautiful umbrellas);
上海小籠包 (the only thing I can read on the Chinese dim sum menu);
上海灘 (cult Cantonese drama series from 1980, with a killer theme song sung by Francis Yip*. This is still a staple of karaoke clubs all over South East Asia and I dare say in London’s Chinatown);
Shanghai Calling (the movie I watched twice on one of my recent long-haul flights, which made me think I might just want to visit this city).
What clinched it was that we recently reconnected with TK, a friend from university days, who now lives and works in Shanghai. Sometimes all you need is one more nudge in the right direction.
Our first impression of Shanghai was an extremely good one, because the airport is big and bright, and not the claustrophobic mess that is Heathrow. Nothing can compare to Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok Airport, but the latter does not have a Maglev Train running into town. I love travelling by trains and this was a treat indeed. The speed, of course, is the main attraction.
If you are Chinese you would, at some point in your life, have received an email from some wit with the intriguing title, ’88 ways to know you are Chinese’. If you really are Chinese you have no need of this list, because you know that the true Chinese person never unwraps the protective cover from their new sofa. Years can go by with this covering on, and if you are lucky, your children can inherit the sofa ‘as new’ when they move into their own home.
Well, the Maglev is like this. Every seat is covered by a blue seat cover, so you never get to see what lies underneath. Maybe this is a reflection of the Chinese psyche: we all have masks to protect our vulnerability to a loss of face.
Riding on the the Maglev is an adventure of sorts: Mr Gochugaru was the only non-Chinese aboard the train. In terms of effort, time and cost, there is not much difference between this and a taking a taxi into town. However, if you are visiting Shanghai, you should at least try this once.
* Click to link:
The testimony of Francis Yip (2013)
Update 15/11/2014: Japan’s levitating maglev train reaches 500km/h