Discussion in 'UK Trip Reports Board' started by dolphingirl47, Jan 31, 2018.
OMG, I NEED to go to Tokyo. The resort is beautiful!
Jill in CO
It is definitely beautiful, but it can not even begin to compete with Shanghai Disneyland.
Sounds like a lovely day in TDS. You really had very low crowds!! ToyvStory never had less than 120 minutes wait when we were there!
However, I cannot agree with your preference for Shanghai over Tokyo!!
I've heard that Tokyo Sea is the most amazing Disney park! The rides look interesting and ToT even looks like it should be ToT even though the building is so different. Nice that you enjoyed F! and got to do just about everything you intended!
That just shows how utterly spoiled I am. I found the crowd level to be very miserable. I have been at Walt Disney World for 4th July and Thanksgiving, at Disneyland for Thanksgiving and Disneyland Paris for Christmas on a number of occasions and the crowds during those peak times were nowhere near as bad as the were in Tokyo on a supposedly low crowd day.
Fortunately we are all different. Shanghai Disneyland is my new favourite park. I was seriously tempted to go back in June, but there is more unfinished business in Beijing than there is in Shanghai so this won out. At least I will get to see the final Disney park that I have not been to yet on this trip p.
It is definitely a very unique and beautiful park.
This day we had a slightly earlier start as Graham was going in search of Mount Fuji. I was heading for Tokyo Disney Resort again and this time I was checking out Tokyo Disneyland. We got up at 7:30 and got ready. We then headed down for breakfast. On the way, Graham picked up and interesting leaflet. It turned out that there is an airport express bus to Haneda that picks up right in front of the hotel. That took care of how we would get to the airport the next day. Then it was time for breakfast. Graham got some scrambled egg, sausage and bacon again, but I headed straight to the good stuff, the Pho. I was a bit more adventurous and added some chicken and beansprouts to me noodles and broth. I also topped it with roast onions again. I had some more of the lovely acerola soda and got Graham some orange juice while I was there. Graham had some pastries and some more of the macadamia cream. I decided to try this as well as I lover anything macadamia. This one was not a hit with me though as it had tapioca pearls in it and I hated the texture. The coconut cream eclairs that I picked out at the same time were a hit though. I had a second helping of Pho. I really fancied some of the Vietnamese chicken curry, but did not want rice. So, I boiled some noodles to go with it and that actually worked really well.
After breakfast, we went back to the room to get what we needed for the day. We went downstairs together and then went our separate ways. I was earlier that morning and hit peak rush hour. The train was pretty full when it got there, but there was definitely space to get on and at that stage, it was comparable to rush hour traffic in the UK. At the next station, more people got on and I was thinking that you could not even fit a piece of paper in amongst the people. Then another half a dozen or so people got on. I was actually lifted of my feet by the people crowding in. Fortunately, the train started to empty out shortly afterwards and the train heading towards Tokyo Disney Resort was not busy at all.
Pretty much as soon as I got on the platform at the Resort Gateway station, the monorail pulled in. Disneyland is the next stop and I actually made it to the entrance just before opening. They do not let anybody in even a second early and there were a lot of people waiting at the entrance. There were cast members there directing people to turnstiles that were less busy, but it still took a little while to get in once the park opened. They had a nice Christmas scene set up near the entrance and I had every intention to come back later to have a proper look at this and take some photos, but I never did.
I just walked through World Bazaar, but in this case, I came back to explore later. For now, I had business at Tomorrowland. My wait time app showed a 15-minute wait time for Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. I have always had a soft spot for this ride. I could not imagine being in a park that features it and not riding. 15 minutes sounded good to me. I don’t think the ride was operating yet when I got there, and the wait was definitely longer than 15 minutes, but I am still glad I did it. As I was at Tomorrowland anyway, I thought I may as well do a ride that is totally unique to Tokyo Disneyland and was one of the 4 must do attractions for this day. Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek! is kind of a similar concept to Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. There you have torches and you use them to find hidden monsters. I had to wait about 30 minutes for this, but it was well worth it. Once we were inside the building, there was also quite a lot to see so it did not feel as long. It is a very cute ride and I wish that they would include this in some of the other parks around the world.
On the way out of Tomorrowland, I stopped by Tomorrowland Terrace to try another unique snack. I had read before the trip that they had a melon soda sugar churro there and curiosity got the better of me. It looked rather strange but was actually pretty tasty. I wandered around for a bit to get a feel of this land. I have to say with the exception of Disneyland Paris, I have never really rated Tomorrowland as it always seems a bit bland to me. Well, Tokyo Disneyland seems to be taking this to another extreme. After being treated to all the stunning attention to detail at Tokyo Disney Sea the day before, this was doubly disappointing.
I retraced my steps back towards World Bazaar and stopped at the hub to take a photo of the castle. I also found a couple that looked like they may speak English to ask them if they could take a photo of me and Flat Jacob. They were happy to help me out. Flat Jacob came to me from a special needs class in the USA to be my companion on some of my travels. Then I crossed into Adventureland.
Adventureland at Tokyo Disneyland is a two-part affair. The part closest to World Bazaar is very similar to New Orleans Square at Disneyland. The names of most of the venues is identical to the Disneyland version, but the menus are very different. I stopped by Royal Street Veranda to get myself a drink and drinks was pretty much all they had apart from a couple of seasonal sweet snacks. I tried the Kirin apple tea soda, which was very unusual, but tasty and refreshing. I had a wander around the New Orleans Square area while I enjoyed my drink. I had to smile when I came past number 33 Royal Street and there was something missing. Instead of Club 33, there was a shop in that location. There is a Club 33 in Tokyo Disneyland, but that is in an entirely different location.
As I walked past Pirates of the Caribbean, there was an advertised waiting time of 10 minutes. Although I had not planned to ride this, with a waiting time like this, it was too good to pass up. The ride is housed inside a New Orleans mansion and part of the line reflects this as this takes you through the lobby of the mansion where various portraits are displayed. The ride itself is pretty similar to the Disneyland version, but it is shorter and only has one drop. The main difference apart from the length and number of drops is that once you clear Blue Bayou, you came to the treasure chamber with the skeleton before you enter to ride proper. I am pleased to report; the redhead is still alive and well here.
Once I had finished the ride, I had a quick look around the shops and then I entered the second half of Adventureland. This is pretty similar to the US parks. I was for a second considering giving Jungle Cruise a try as the waiting time was pretty reasonable, but I figured that this would probably be pretty boring if you cannot understand the corny jokes. So, I moved on to The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents "Aloha E Komo Mai!”. Now, I have to say that I am not exactly a fan of The Enchanted Tiki Room. This is taking corny a little bit too far for my liking. Normally the closest I get to this is the Dole Whip counter nearby. There is no Dole Whip to be had at Tokyo Disneyland, but as this features Stitch and am a huge Stitch fan, this had a certain appeal. The fact that it was indoors in a headed building also had a certain appeal. There was a show in progress when I got there so I had a short wait. It was a lovely surprise that the stone benches in the waiting area were heated. Pretty much as soon as I had sat down, a cast member approached me and passed me a laminated piece of paper. This introduced a device that would provide English subtitles for the show. She gave me some time to read and then she collected the laminate and handed me the device. Shortly afterwards, the door opened and we could go in. The device did not offer a word by word translation, but the subtitles translated the key parts so that you could follow what was happening. I don’t know if it was the addition of Stitch or if it is actually a blessing not being able to understand everything, but I actually quite enjoyed the show. I handed the gadget to the cast member at the exit and then I was on my way again.
When I left the attraction, I checked out the two nearby popcorn carts in the hope that they had a Stitch popcorn bucket. Popcorn is a huge thing at Tokyo Disney Resort. Every location has special novelty popcorn buckets and there are a bunch of unusual flavours. I had seen Stitch popcorn buckets before the trip and also around the parks, but unfortunately, I did not find one for sale. The thing is, I don’t even like popcorn, but due to the combination on how cute the Stitch popcorn bucket is and the unusual flavours, I was seriously tempted. Sure, you can get the usual salted and caramel popcorn, but there are a bunch of other options. Both parks offer curry and milk chocolate popcorn. Tokyo Disney Sea also offers black pepper, herb-tomato, garlic shrimp and blueberry options and Tokyo Disneyland features soy sauce and butter, barbecue and honey versions. I was the most tempted by the soy sauce and butter or the honey version even though I normally don’t even like honey.
I pushed on towards Westernland, which is their version of Frontierland. Big Thunder Mountain was one of the rides I had intended to do, but with a 110-minute posted waiting time, I passed. I like this ride, but I was not going to wait nearly two hours for a ride that I have done a lot at multiple parks. I had also read before the trip that the version here is very similar to the one at Magic Kingdom, which is my least favourite version. I pushed on towards the Country Bear Theatre. Now, discounting the out and out thrill rides, there is only one attraction that I dislike more than The Enchanted Tiki Room and that is The Country Bear Jamboree. To me, this has gone the wrong side of corny and is downright embarrassing. So normally, I would have given this a very wide berth. However, they have a Christmas version of the show called Jingle Bell Jamboree, which was recommended to me. It also took place in a heated theatre and I could rest my feet for a while so what is not to like. I have to admit that I did enjoy it. I think that is another show that benefits from not being able to understand most of what is going on. It was also kind of amusing to listen to familiar Christmas songs in Japanese.
By then, it was nearly time for the main parade, which was shown at a very unusual time of 13:20. There was just one issue: I had no idea where the parade route was. On the entertainment guide, it just stated that this would take place along the parade route, but this was not marked on the map. I was studying this in the lobby of the Country Bear Theatre seeing if there was any hint at all. I must have looked thoroughly confused as a cast member approached me to see if she could help me. I told her that I was looking for the parade route. She beckoned me to follow her and pointed me in the right direction. It turned out that I was not far from the parade route at all. I found a pretty sweet spot as well and the parade started only a few minutes after I got there.
The main daytime parade is called Happiness is Here and is a combination of a very catchy song, amazing floats, interesting smaller vehicles and amazing costumes. The whole parade is a riot of colour and has a real upbeat vibe about it. Unfortunately, this will end next month and will be replaced by a new parade. I just hope that the new offering will be as good as the present parade.
While I was waiting for the parade, something really bothered me, but I could not put my finger on it. It was not the insane crowds although they did not exactly make me happy either. According to the crowd forecast, the two days I was there were supposed to be amongst the lowest crowds all year with 33 and 36 out of a hundred respectively. Well, I would hate to see the parks on a high crowd day. I have been to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World for Thanksgiving and multiple times at Disneyland Paris on Christmas and neither of them were anywhere near as busy then as Tokyo Disney Resort was on a supposedly low crowd day. Still, I had planned this from the start as a kind of “take time to smell the roses” visit so the crowds did not affect me to badly. Even with heavy crowds, my planned four rides per park did not present a challenge.
I was so captivated by the parade that I kind of forgot all about it. Once the parade had passed through, I decided to do something about lunch. I crossed back over to the exit to Country Bear Theatre. Right next to it is the Hungry Bear Restaurant. Unlike the restaurant by the same name at Disneyland, there is not a burger in sight here. Hungry Bears in Tokyo favour curries and I had a lovely pork katsu curry with rice and some iced oolong tea for my lunch. For a quick service meal, this was absolutely delicious and even the tea was nice. After lunch, I crossed over into Fantasyland. At that stage, I realized what had bothered me earlier. There was a building that obviously belonged to Westernland right next to a building that obviously belonged into Fantasyland with no transition whatsoever. In all the other Disney parks I have been to, they managed to somehow make them blend in. This really stuck out like a sore thumb.
I had a wander around Fantasyland and was not overly impressed, but the main reason for this was that there were building fences all over the place. Again, they did not even try to make them blend in. However, there were two specific reasons for being in Fantasyland and I was soon heading towards the first one. Pooh's Hunny Hunt was one of the main reasons why I always wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland. This is a truly unique attraction and I had only heard good things about it. The posted waiting time was 50 minutes and for this ride, I was more than willing to wait. The line was quite interesting as well. The outside was themed like a garden and once you got inside, you went through Christopher Robin’s bedroom before being literally in the book. While I was still in the garden part, I got a sudden coughing fit and somebody who was just in front of me kindly gave me a couch sweet. This did the trick. In the end,I did not wait anywhere near 50 minutes. I think it was just over half an hour. The ride was every bit as amazing as I had expected. It uses the same trackless technology that has since been introduced at Walt Disney Studios in Paris for the Ratatouille ride. However, unlike Ratatouille, this ride has physical sets rather than using 3D technology. It also has some cool special effects. At one stage, you actually bounce with Tigger.
Once I came out of the ride, I still had some time until the Christmas parade, which is called Disney Christmas Stories. They do like strange starting times at Tokyo Disneyland. The afternoon parade had started at 13:20 and this was due to start at 15:40. So I decided to have a look around the shops. I had been asked to bring back some magnets for somebody back home and I wanted the same pins that I had got at Tokyo Disney Sea for Tokyo Disneyland as well. I did not have any luck on either count. I was once again amused how many different snacks they had in the shops. About 15:30, I went to find a viewing spot for the parade. I got lucky again and found a great spot just outside the Haunted Mansion. That meant that once the parade was finished, I was in precisely the right spot.
The official description is that the characters tell 7 stories of Christmas. I did not get this at all from the parade, but it is a very cute parade with a great soundtrack, some really nice floats, a lot of characters in Christmas outfits and dancers in very elaborate costumes. I really enjoyed watching it, but Happiness Is Here still had the edge for me.
My cunning plan paid off. While most people spread out across Fantasyland once the parade was finished, I just turned around and headed towards the Haunted Mansion. Now, I am a huge fan of everything Haunted Mansion and I like all its versions. For most of the year, Haunted Mansion at Tokyo Disneyland is supposed to be very similar to the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom. Although I still love it, this is my least favourite version. However, during the Halloween and Christmas seasons, this is transformed into Haunted Mansion Holiday. Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland is my absolute favourite version of Haunted Mansion and I have to admit that I have planned trips to Disneyland around the time of year when Haunted Mansion Holiday is operating. When I found out a month or so before this trip that Tokyo Disneyland has Haunted Mansion Holiday, I let out a happy little yelp. This made my shortlist of rides very quickly.
I headed towards the entrance to find out that there was a barrier between the path and the entrance. I followed the barrier and came to the beginning of the line. Essentially, they had turned the graveyard into a holding pen. I did not mind this at all as this gave me time to check out all the pumpkin decorations including pumpkin snowmen. People were released from this area in groups and then walked inside the barrier to the actual entrance of the attraction. Once you were there, the waiting time was very short. Soon I was outside the entrance to the mansion itself and this was when I noticed that the ride here is called Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare according to the plague by the door. The ride is very similar to the one at Disneyland. The main difference is that the gingerbread house in the ballroom scene is missing and they do not have the Hatbox Ghost. I thoroughly enjoyed this.
I would have loved to go around again, but I figured that this would be cutting things a little fine for the next show I wanted to see. I walked away and headed towards the hub. I had a wander around this area, which had various Christmas decorations including a quite elaborate Christmas scene. Then I went to stake out a spot in from of the castle. Tokyo Disneyland really likes their strange timings. Disney Gifts of Christmas was due to start at 17:35. I wonder what is wrong with 17:30. Disney Gifts of Christmas used projection mapping technology on the castle and is themed around Disney characters bringing Christmas gifts. It is a very cute show and I was so captivated by it that I did not even think to get my phone out to take photos. This was the first year the show was shown in Tokyo Disneyland and it will be introduced to Magic Kingdom for the next holiday season. I would definitely recommend it.
When the show was over, I was essentially done. My feet where hurting and it was a little chilly. However, there was something left on my to do list. I was considering for a moment to use the time I had to hop on the monorail to go to the Bon Voyage shop, which is between resort gateway station and Maihama station. I was still hoping to get my Christmas Shellie May, and this is kind of their version of World of Disney. However, I was not sure if I would come back I left the park and I gave up on this idea. Instead I had a closer look at World Bazaar and browsed in some of the shops. I found a shop selling Pandora charms and found out that there are no Tokyo Disney Resort exclusive charms. I was quite disappointed by this. My Pandora bracelet now includes a Shellie May charm, which is a Disney Parks exclusive rather than a Tokyo Disney Resort exclusive, but I do associate her with Tokyo Disney Resort. I also have a Japanese doll on my bracelet to represent Japan in general. I had more luck finding the pins I wanted and also the magnets I was trying to get for somebody at home. I even managed to find the entrance to Club 33 on my wanders, which is around the back of World Bazaar.
After my tour around World Bazaar, I headed back into Tomorrowland. I decided to get snack and a drink at one of the counter service restaurants there to warm up and take the weight of my feet. I think half the population of the park had the same idea. The place was absolutely packed, and I soon gave up on that idea. I tried to figure out what to do next. With hindsight, I should have circled around to Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare. However, this did not even occur to me. Instead I got in line for Stitch Encounter. This is pretty similar to Turtle Talk with Crush. It was all in Japanese, so I did not understand a word, but it was warm, I could sit down for 15 minutes and it involved Stitch. I may not have understood anything, but it was a lot of fun watching people’s reactions while they were interacting with Stitch.
After this, I got myself a green tea ice cream from the ice cream parlour near the entrance to World Bazaar. Unfortunately, all the seats were taken so I found a bench in a sheltered spot outside and sat down for a while. About 19:15, I went to find myself a viewing spot along the parade route near World Bazaar. I intended to make a quick exit as soon as the parade was over. The parade was Main Street Electrical Parade Dreamlights. As a rule, I am not a huge parade fan, but I have always loved the night-time parades. My favourite is Paint the Night and as much as I enjoyed Main Street Electrical Parade Dreamlights, Paint the Night is still my favourite. Main Street Electrical Parade Dreamlights was still absolutely amazing though and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This was the Christmas version and I not sure how different it is from the normal version. I assume that there is not a lot of difference between the two. I will let the photos to the talking.
As soon as the parade was finished, I exited the park and headed for the monorail. The trip back to the hotel worked like clockwork with all trains turning up pretty much as soon as I got to the respective platform. While I was traveling back to the hotel, I realized that this was the first time ever that I was not at least a little bit upset when leaving from a trip to Disney. Part of it was probably down to the fact that I would be a Shanghai Disneyland only two days later. Still, when I did my back to back trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 2015, I was still upset when I left Disneyland on the last evening. Then it came to me. Sure, Tokyo Disney Resort has some truly unique rides and attractions and Tokyo Disney Sea is amazingly beautiful. However, I realized that the parks in Tokyo do not have a soul. I just did not detect the Disney spirit there that I can detect in most parks. I am not sure if this is down to the fact that the parks are not actually Disney owned. I am glad that I had the chance to visit the parks, but I do not feel the need to repeat this experience.
When I got back to the hotel, Graham was already asleep. He woke up briefly and we were chatting about what we had been up to that day. I then packed my suitcase again as we were due to return to China the next morning. Once this was done, I read for a bit and then I settled down for the night.
The parades were marvelous! I had to laugh at the Christmas tiki poles!
The parades in Tokyo are something very special.
What a fabulous day, wow! All those gorgeous parades and different rides. That was one of the best things of going out to DL in California, experiencing different rides. The Pooh ride sounds like so much fun, as well as the Monster’s Inc ride.
Popcorn is one of my favorite things, how wonderful to have all those different popcorn flavors
Glad you were able to find some things you were looking to purchase.
Great pictures. Thanks for the exciting updates.
The parades were truly spectacular and I did really enjoy the unique rides.
I loved both of them. Hong Kong Disneyland has a ride that sounds like a hybrid between Haunted Mansion and Pooh's Hunny Hunt and I can't wait to try this.
I have never really got into popcorn, but I have to admit that some of the flavours called to me.
I was pretty happy with what I got.
Welcome. I am glad you are enjoying it.
The wakeup call that morning was not quite as painful as on our way to Tokyo, although it was still early enough for my liking at 6:30. We got up and ready and I had my first breakfast. Graham had brought me back an edible souvenir from his trip to Mount Fuji the previous day. When he visited Hakone, he picked up a speciality called Kuro-Tamago, which translates as boiled egg to you and me. You are probably wondering why a boiled egg is classified as a speciality. Well, they are not just any boiled eggs. To start off with, they are black. I was a little dubious about this. The eggs are boiled at 80 degrees Celsius for 60 minutes in natural spring water in a volcanic pool and then steamed at 100 degrees for 15 minutes in steel baskets. The water that they are boiled in contains sulphur and iron. This turns the shell black and even the inside of the egg was a charcoal grey, but it tasted just like any boiled egg. These eggs are meant to be very good to you and the locals swear that eating just one can add 5 to 7 years to your life expectancy.
Once I had enjoyed my egg, I packed the last odds and ends. We then went downstairs to check out. We had made good time and checking out took a matter of seconds, so we ended up being by the bus stop about 45 minutes ahead of schedule. The bus runs hourly and I was quite surprised that there were already people waiting at the bus stop. It turned out that the previous bus was running late and this showed up shortly after we got there. The driver loaded the luggage and then collected the fares. I had no idea how many stops there would be on the way, but it turned out that we were the last pick up. Once everybody was on the bus, we headed straight to Haneda. Haneda has three terminals. Terminals 1 and 2 are domestic terminals and everybody got off at one of those. We were the only people that stayed on until the international terminal. There was actually a meeter and greeter there who took our luggage off the bus and escorted us to the entrance. Check in was very quick and smooth again. We wanted to get some breakfast, but there was not a great deal open landside. We decided to clear the formalities first and then look for breakfast airside. Again, the whole immigration, customs and security process was very painless and soon we were in the departure lounge. This area is huge that we had to look at one of the maps in order to discovered a food court area. We headed there. I still had a noodle craving, but I was out of luck. I met up again with Graham at one of the outlets that was selling all kinds of grilled meats. Graham had steak, eggs and steak fries with some water. I had a rice bowl with sliced steak and scrambled eggs and a Coke. As the meal deal worked out cheaper, I got a bowl of steak fries, too. My food was absolutely amazing. The steak was so tender and had an amazing flavour. It was definitely the best meal I ever had at an airport and it may well have been the best meal I had during the holiday. Yes, it was that good.
Once we had finished eating, we went to find our gate. Graham stayed there with our luggage and I went to check out the shops. For some reason I had not packed any lip balm. Normally I have multiple lip balms with me and by now, my lips were really dry. As we came through security, I had seen some signage for MAC Cosmetics and they do a really nice tinted lip conditioner. I decided to get some of this. At the location that I had seen advertised, they did not have any, but I was sent to another shop that had a larger MAC Cosmetics concession and I got lucky there. I went back to re-join Graham and he decided to go and stretch his legs. I got caught up online. He came back with some coffee. I decided that I fancied a hot drink as well and headed towards where Graham had got the coffee. He obviously had started a rush. When I got there, there was a huge line. I was worried that I would miss my flight if I got in that line. I was thirsty and decided that I should at least get a cold drink. Normally there are vending machines at every corner in Tokyo. I was surprised that I could not find one near our gate. I eventually did find one near the food court where we had had breakfast and got a bottle of acerola juice. I then headed back to our gate to enjoy this.
Not long afterwards, they started boarding for our flight. This flight was full. We had the same seats again that we had on the flight out. Taking off from Haneda is an even bigger adventure as landing as you head straight for the ocean. By the time we were airborne, there was not a lot of runway left. It was a beautiful clear day and we were treated to some gorgeous scenery. Unfortunately, we flew straight over Mount Fuji so we did not get to see this. Once we were at cruising altitude, lunch was served. Unlike on the way out, there was no choice of meals and the offering for the main course was eel with rice. There was no way I would eat this. Graham decided to give this a go, but he hated it. I just had what else came with the meal, which was a salad in a gorgeous soy and rice wine dressing, rice crackers and some sort of cake. We both had some sake and tea. I was glad that we had a substantial breakfast. The rest of the flight was again spent with filling in paperwork, reading and studying the map.
We arrived in Shanghai slightly ahead of schedule. We had to go through the quarantine channel again and like in Tokyo, this consisted of infrared cameras to detect people running a temperature and a radiation detector. The line for immigration was not very long and I was through very quickly. Graham was at the desk next to the one I had been processed at and there was some kind of issue. Apparently, the immigration official did not think that the passport photo was a good likeness. She called somebody else for a second opinion and then a third person was called. In the end they must have decided that it was Graham after all as he got his entry stamp and his passport back. The whole thing lasted less than 5 minutes. The advantage of the hold-up was that our luggage came out as soon as we got to the luggage carousel.
When we got to customs, we were just waved through and then we were back landside. We followed the signs for the taxis. This was the part I was slightly concerned about. I extensively researched how to get from the airport to our hotel. Pre-booked transfers in Shanghai are horrendously expensive. We could have got the subway, but that would have required three different changes and we did not fancy that with luggage. There is a mainline train station right next to Hongqiao airport, but the trains did not go where we needed to go. We decided before we left that we would brave the taxis. I had read up on this and knew that we should ignore anybody who approaches us in the terminal building and to see the taxi marshal just outside the main entrance. There were actually no taxi touts when we were there, and the taxi marshal allocated us a taxi straightaway. The taxi driver did not speak any English, but I had printed out directions from Google Maps that were in both English and Mandarin and I passed those to the driver. He studied them, nodded and passed them pack to me. Our luggage was loaded and then we were on our way. Traffic in Shanghai seemed to be a little more chilled out than in Beijing. We drove over various elevated roads, which would have given us a good view if it had not been for all the pollution. We did however see an Ikea store, which made us smile. About 45 minutes later, we pulled up in front of our hotel. I had checked online how much the taxi fare would be and what we were actually charged was significantly cheaper. Essentially, we paid £12 for the two of us for the 45-minute journey. I call this a bit of a bargain.
There were beautiful Christmas decorations in front of the hotel and a gorgeous Christmas tree in the lobby. We were a little confused as there was a check in desk as soon as we got inside, but there was nobody there. It turned out that this was a for a conference that was taking place at the hotel. The hotel front desk was further inside. This is where we hit the second snag of the day. They could not find our reservation. I handed the person checking us in the booking confirmation and she asked a few questions. Finally, she did find us. She took a deposit and handed us our keys. She asked if we wanted to add breakfast and we decided we may as well. She also made us a reservation for the shuttle to Shanghai Disneyland for the next day. We had chosen this hotel as it was only one Subway stop from Shanghai Disneyland. It turned out that they also run a free shuttle and the times worked with our plans, so we decided that we may as well save the money and the walk to the subway station and take the shuttle. Reservations are required in the morning, but coming back, it was first come, first served. Yes, I did say reservations for us. While we were waiting for our plane in Tokyo, Graham had asked me how much a ticket for Shanghai Disneyland would be and if they could be purchased on the day. They are a bit of a bargain at £37 per person and I told him that there better be tickets available on the day as I did not have a ticket yet either. He decided that he would come with me. I could not believe what I was hearing. Graham is far from a Disney fan and he already had spent a day with me at Disneyland Paris in October. I did not expect him to set foot into another Disney park for at least another year. I was quite happy about this turn of events though.
With all the formalities sorted out, we headed up to our room. The room was huge and absolutely beautiful. It also featured the biggest bed I have ever seen. This was the opposite extreme from the bed we had in Tokyo. We had a little bit of downtime and then at around 14:30, we headed out to do some sightseeing. We walked the short distance to the local subway station. This far out, the subway runs on elevated tracks and very much reminded me of the Dubai Metro. We went up the stairs to where the ticket machines were and before we could even get there, somebody approached us and asked us in English where we were hoping to get to. I told her that we wanted to go to Nanjing Road East and she tapped some buttons on the ticket machine. It turned out that this machine was out of change and therefore did not accept bank notes. I wonder if this was the problem with the machines in Beijing. She then went to the machine next to the one we had been trying to use and everything on there was in Chinese. She selected the relevant details and took our money. A few seconds later we had our tickets. We thanked her and were on our way. I figured out where we needed to change and as soon as we got to the platform, the train pulled in. The subway system in Shanghai works pretty much the same as in Beijing, but the first train we got on did not have the illuminated route map above the doors. Instead it had a display at strategic points during the carriage that showed the next station. Initially our train was nearly empty, but the closer we got to our interchange point, it filled up. The interchange was pretty easy again and we only had a few stops on the second train.
Nanjing Road is the main shopping street in Shanghai and at 5.5 km, it is the longest shopping street in the world. We had not come for shopping though. I wanted to have a look at the famous Bund. The Bund is a riverside walk that stretches for about a mile along the bank of the Huangpu River. I had seen photos of this before we left and was utterly fascinated by the contrast between the historical buildings in Puxi, where we were, and the modern skyscrapers across the river in Pudong. On our walk there, we came across various souvenir shops and shops selling interesting looking street food. I was quite tempted by the food on offer here, but Graham preferred to eat somewhere where he could actually recognize what he was eating. We bypassed the shops and crossed over to the Bund.
It was a weekday afternoon and relatively quiet. There were plenty of photographers around, but again, they were targeting the Chinese visitors and ignoring us. I quite fancied a photo with the Pudong skyline in the background. I decided to approach one of the photo stalls. They were advertising a variety of packages including an electronic version, which was what I really wanted. The man at the stall spoke good English while he explained the various options to me, but suddenly no longer understood English when I told him that I wanted the electronic version. I gave up. We initially walked north as far as the Monument to the People's Heroes stopping on the way to admire the skyline on the opposite riverbank. We were both amused that there were multiple Santas climbing up one of the historical buildings. When we got to the Monument to the People's Heroes, we turned around and headed in the opposite direction. It was along this stretch of the Bund that the most impressive buildings are located including the old Customs House and the former headquarters of HSBC Bank. As pretty as this area is, it kind of rubbed me up the wrong way that people from our home country came to China and thought it was a good idea to impose their architecture on the host country. The icing on the cake was a traditional pillar box, which seemed totally out of place.
By the time we got to the opposite end of the Bund, the sun had gone down and the lights across the river had come one. This was quite a sight to behold. My favourite was a skyscraper that used projection mapping to display various Christmas and winter images. Unfortunately, the visible pollution made it hard to take photos of this. After the sun had gone down, it got cold very quickly. We retraced our steps and headed back to the subway. On the way, I stopped at a shop that sold silk scarfs, but there was nothing there that caught my eye.
We ended up being caught up in the evening rush hour. The subway was very crowded, but nowhere near as bad as it had been in Tokyo. Once we left the centre of Shanghai, the subway started to empty out and we managed to get a seat. When we got back to the hotel, we headed straight to the restaurant. They were offering an all you can eat buffet, which sounded good to us. I started with soup noodles. One of the toppings was labelled as Mixed Chops and I figured that this was probably pork. It turned out to be fungus. I did not mind the taste, but could not deal with the texture. Graham had various meat and fish dishes with some rice. I went back to get some spring rolls, a chicken dish, vegetable noodles, a steamed pork bun and something that tasted suspiciously like a quesadilla. Graham went for some more meat and fish. My favourite part of dinner was actually dessert, which consisted of various kinds of tropical fruit and a chocolate donut. The rest of the meal was really nothing to write home about. We were both wondering if we had made a mistake paying for breakfast.
After we had finished our dinner, we headed back to our room. We got ready for bed and then read for a bit before setting down for the night.
Sounds like another smooth travel day, excellent. How interesting about the black egg, it looks very neat.
You can’t beat the £12 taxi ride, wonderful that worked out so well. The hotel is beautiful! Lovely they had the shuttle to Disney. And what excellent news Graham would go too!
I like the look of this city, the river walk is very nice. Too cute to have santas outside the buildings.
Tokyo Disneyland sounded like a bit of a let down although the parades were cool.
Shanghai looks very charming. Can't believe Graham is volunteering to go to Disney!
Jill in CO
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