Shanghai (15th March to 19th March)

Saturday, 19th March, 2005

Leaving today.

Along with signs exhorting “Be a good host to distinguished guests”; a phrase that should have preceeded Prince Charles on his recent trip to New Zealand; drive past the No. 1 Tire factory and No 2. Industrial Bank on the way to the vast airport that is Pudong.

Quick shopping for a fridge magnet and belated birthday present for my Mum. Grab something that has a cat on it for our cats to knock off and destroy.

In the mist, the large buildings disappear and off to Sydney returning via the airport disguised as a shopping mall in Hong Kong.

On the Dragonair flight, there are some very weird cooking shows. One is a pair from Hong Kong looking at cows in Kobe. Evidently, each cow gets its own birth certificate to prove it is a Kobe cow. The farmers feed the cows beer to keep them happy an oblivious to their ultimate fate: to be eaten raw.

Three tips for modern-day jetsetters and air-travellers:

  1. Don’t smoke
  2. Wear shoes and belts that don’t trigger x-rays
  3. Get ready to drink bad coffee

Thursday, 17th March, 2005

After another day of meetings/training/discussion, we are off into Shanghai proper for some food. Near the river, near the very large tower, in the Seagull Palace; overlooking the Bund.

Travelling the 30 minutes from the hotel to the city centre, massive multistory towers emerge like trees in the mist. However, the mist here is smog and the lights emerge in an erie fashion. There are so many large buildings in Shanghai, the world has run out of international brand-names to erect on them in neon. Freaky.

Great local food, especially a chili-pork-soup combo that was out of this world. Stayed clear of the shellfish, just in case.

Much laughter and a good night is had by all. I hadn’t realised that an Australian secret (true, honest) that I told a Japanese collegue has single-handedly caused a drop in Japanese tourism to Australia: Drop-Bears. These are dangerous cousins of Koalas that drop out of trees, hurting unsuspecting tourists below whilst they are sightseeing in the bush. Australians, knowning that all our native animals are deadly to humans in some fashion, have attempted to keep silent about the drop-bears to our international friends. Unfortunately, my information has leaked in Japan, including Tokyo schools – and as far away Nagasaki. The secret is out. Sorry, Australian Tourism Board.

After wandering the streets at 10pm, the Indians, the trainer and I find a cab and head back to what we hope is the hotel. It feels and tastes like the right direction – and we are home.

Wednesday, 16th March, 2005

Outside, its raining and overcast – so not much is visible. A permanent head-cold has set in (or at least from a week ago in Auckland), so I am just glad the Hong Kong and Chinese thermal scanners have not rejected me for re-importing SARS (stupid australian respiritory syndrome) into China.

Good to see our old Australian friend, now in London, Alan Rosenfeld here to give us the low down on products.

Elect to stay in at night and try to rid myself of the lurgy. Watching BBCWorld, a not-so-positive piece of China news is “censored”. That’s right, black screen. All the other stations are working OK, but BBCWorld is censored. This is not a world I am familiar with. Big Brother-ish. Freaky.

Tuesday, 15th March, 2005

Second international flight in two weeks, if you can class New Zealand as overseas. Five iPod Shuffle billboards (also known as Supersites in Australian Outdoor Advertising Lingo) in green and while ask all international travellers to not think and just randomly purchase on their exit. Unfortunately, all stores are out of stock and the current wait-time is 6 weeks. Good advertising dollars down the drain.

Catch up with a phone-friend in the Qantas Club at Sydney: Charlie from Screen. He’s off to New Zealand and we trade war stories of NZ weather experiences.

The Catholic Church is going after Dan Brown’s 15 million published novels, but that hasn’t stopped my fellow travellers: I counted at least 3 people reading a Dan Brown book. Maybe it’s time to outright ban books again? My Dan Brown for this flight was meant to be Digital Fortress, but after a few lines of reading I soon realised why Avril looked at me strangely when I asked for it last night. I’ve read the book already. Into a military history of Arnhem 1944 (Operation Market-Garden) Another good study of political rather than operational military decision making. A bridge too far.

Now I am out of books. This is not an experience I enjoy.

Off in Hong Kong, and jump on the little train that takes you to Gates 33 to 80. They obviously ran out of space to put stores in the normal International terminal, so the planners created more gate lounges to host more stores.

Dragonair to Shanghai Pudong. Flying at night the lights are endless. Filling in the China Immigration card, it asks if you suffer from a “mental psychosis”. Not quite yet…

No need to collect baggage from carousel 13, because it doesn’t exist. Jane and I (Jane is from our Hong Kong office) wait for her bags, and we are out in the limosine service to the hotel.

The ettiquite is for drivers to drive fast in the left hand lane, flashing their lights at slower cars. Speeding fines don’t seem to be an issue at 10pm, as we motor along at 140km/h to Hongqaio.

You can just taste the industry in the worker’s paradise. Factory after factory, apartment block after apartment block. Billboards promote distinctly green, countryfied dreams as you drink pepsi/coke/or whatever is being advertised.

Christchurch II Gallery

[2164] Shag Rock, Sumner Beach, Christchurch NZ
Shag Rock, Sumner Beach, Christchurch NZ

[2165] Sumner Beach, Christchurch looking at Pacific Ocean in the approximate direction of Mexico.
Sumner Beach, Christchurch looking at Pacific Ocean in the approximate direction of Mexico.

[2166] From Taylors Mistake to Godley Head
From Taylors Mistake to Godley Head

[2167] Nick on the Cantebury Plain.  Snow capped mountains in the distance
Nick on the Cantebury Plain. Snow capped mountains in the distance

[2168] From snowy Mount Hutt to the green Cantebury Plain.
From snowy Mount Hutt to the green Cantebury Plain.

[2169] Snow chains. Sorry Hertz
Snow chains. Sorry Hertz

[2170] My first experience in the snow, Mount Hutt, New Zealand. Its cold, wet then cold; just like a big freezer. Photo by Stamatia.
My first experience in the snow, Mount Hutt, New Zealand. Its cold, wet then cold; just like a big freezer. Photo by Stamatia.

[2171] New Zealand country side. Wow.
New Zealand country side. Wow.

[2172] Lyttelton Harbour, New Zealand
Lyttelton Harbour, New Zealand

[2173] WWII gun emplacement at Godley Head, near Christchurch, New Zealand. Photo by Stamatia
WWII gun emplacement at Godley Head, near Christchurch, New Zealand. Photo by Stamatia

[2174] WWII gun emplacement, Godley Head, New Zealand
WWII gun emplacement, Godley Head, New Zealand

[2175] Atmospheric photo, Godley Head, New Zealand
Atmospheric photo, Godley Head, New Zealand

[2176] Sheep now guard Christchurch on Godley Head, not guns.
Sheep now guard Christchurch on Godley Head, not guns.

[2177] Scenic drive with New Brighton in the background, Christchurch, NZ
Scenic drive with New Brighton in the background, Christchurch, NZ

[2178] Church in Christchurch. One of many. Rugby fields also count.
Church in Christchurch. One of many. Rugby fields also count.

[2179] Looking over Sumner, Christchurch, NZ
Looking over Sumner, Christchurch, NZ

[2180] Telegraph poles over Taylors Mistake, Christchurch, NZ
Telegraph poles over Taylors Mistake, Christchurch, NZ

[2181] NZ country side. Yes, it was cold at this hour of the morning
NZ country side. Yes, it was cold at this hour of the morning

[2182] Mount Hutt, New Zealand
Mount Hutt, New Zealand

[2183] Mount Hutt, New Zealand
Mount Hutt, New Zealand

[2184] Cave Rock, Sumner
Cave Rock, Sumner

[2185] Lone, cold seagull at Sumner
Lone, cold seagull at Sumner

[2186] WWII gun emplacement, Godley Head, New Zealand
WWII gun emplacement, Godley Head, New Zealand