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Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.

Journal Entry:

Saturday, June 02, 2012 03:19:28

CHINA 2012: 2 - Victoria to Shanghai

Victoria in May is generally cold and rainy, but this year we were lucky.  The sun came out when we arrived and with the exception of a couple of days lasted until we left.  Wednesday, May 30 we were picked up by our son and driven to the airport for a short flight to Vancouver where we boarded a China Eastern Airbus 330 for the flight to Shanghai.

  I had some serious concerns about China Eastern, as I'd had no success in contacting them at either of the numbers Travelocity gave me, and when Travelocity tried to contact them to tell them we would not be using the Shanghai to Beijing portion of the flight, they couldn't get through by phone either.  When in Vancouver I contacted friends at Bestway Tours & Safaris, and they gave me a Vancouver number that was eventually answered.  They said if we cancelled or didn't show up for that segment of the flight our return flight would be automatically cancelled by the computer and there was nothing they could do about it.

I emailed friend Lifeng Liu at CSITS in Beijing, who had put together the China and North Korea parts of the trip, and she contacted China Eastern with the same result - the airline was inflexible.  Another call to Travelocity to give them the Vancouver number resulted in them saying we could cancel the segment if we paid $115, which didn't seem reasonable as it was a prepaid business class ticket that we weren't looking for a refund on.  Another flight had already been arranged from Shanghai to Huangshan in China, so I decided to take a chance and try talking to the China Eastern people at the airport in Shanghai. In spite of these problems and the fact that they don't have a functional English web  site, my fears proved unfounded once we were checked in.  In the lounge in Vancouver airport there were free food and drinks and a cart was laid on to transport the airline clients to the departure gate.

Once on board everything I could have hoped for was provided.  The seats reclined into a flat bed that fit my 2 meter (6ft 6inch) length, individual large screen TVs provided a range of games and entertainment including dozens of on demand movies, there was an AC plug in with each seat, a full kit of condiments including toothbrushes and toothpaste plus slippers and a first for me -- pyjamas!  These were real pyjamas with full length pants and button up top in soft, warm material. The service was superb - a press of the call button brought another beer instantly. We arrived in Shanghai half an hour early.  Immigration was fast and easy, and we walked non-stop through the customs area.  A couple of stops for directions and a short walk got us into the departure area, where we sought out China Eastern Airlines to see what could be done about the flight on which we were booked, but were not going to take.  We were bounced from one area to another four times before we arrived to see a domestic flight supervisor who was being yelled at by a German lady at that point over some problem.

When we stood in front of the distraught supervisor and explained the problem she got that "Oh! Another problem that can't be solved!" look on her face.  She really did try,  phoning many different people and basically getting the same answer - if we don't fly the flight it is likely our return flights will be cancelled.  When she said she could change the date of the flight I got an idea.  Our return flights are July 2, so I changed the Shanghai to Beijing flight we want to cancel to July 3.  The helpful lady gave me a printout showing both of our July 2 flights and the one we won't be on July 3.

Our next stop was the bus stand.  We were currently at Pudong Airport, but tomorrow leave from Hongqiao Airport located on the opposite side of Shanghai - we were told it was about an hour by taxi, however knowing most cities have busses between major airports we went looking.  No one spoke English, but most could read the airport name, so we were soon seated on a comfortable bus speeding across the vast network of elevated express highways.  Once at Hongqiao we took a taxi to the Cypress Garden Hotel - a 15 minute ride that cost $16.40.  The bus had been $5 each. The hotel is located on a large estate with gardens, pagodas and pools around it.  It has a huge indoor swimming pool, however internet and phone calls were expensive.  We went to the lounge for something light to eat and the prices were higher than in Canada, and the food horrible.  There was no Chinese food on the lounge menu, but the Tingtao beer was good!  Tomorrow we fly south.