Shanghai Expo with Coca-Cola - Day 1 of 4 - Alvinology

Shanghai Expo with Coca-Cola – Day 1 of 4

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I got to fly to Shanghai (上海) to experience the World Expo 2010, together with another Singapore blogger, Walter Lim, courtesy of Coca Cola Singapore.

Our flight was at 10.10am on 6 May (last Thurs). I arrived at the airport relatively late, having overslept as my body was still repairing itself from the three weeks of sleep-deprived 24-hours guard duties for reservist.

This is the first time I am flying Business Class. The check-in was speedier and there’s also an exclusive lounge to enjoy some light food and beverages. Light reading material is available too. Sorry if I am like a frog in a well as I usually travel on a shoestring budget, given my very average salary which I have to stretch every cents.

Business Class ticket - woohoo!
Business Class ticket – woohoo!
Food and beverages are available at the lounge
Food and beverages are available at the lounge

Walter had specially dressed in an oriental top to fit the occasion. I met him and June from Coca-Cola Singapore at the lounge. June is the one who made this trip possible for us and I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity. We had a quick chat and promptly proceeded to the boarding gate for departure.

Walter in his oriental shirt at the lounge
Walter in his oriental shirt at the lounge

In Business Class, the stewardess are more attentive and polite. They make an effort to address everyone by your surname and honorific: “Would you like a welcome drink Mr Lim?” quipped a pretty stewardess as I settled into my seat.

Meals are served, one course at a time. The seats are much roomier and can be transformed into a flat bed.

I was offered a drink and a magazine to read immediately after boarding
I was offered a drink and a magazine to read immediately after boarding
Satay appetiser
Satay appetiser
Another smoked salmon appetiser
Another smoked salmon appetiser
Duck rice main course
Duck rice main course
Wider shot of my airplane lunch
Wider shot of my airplane lunch
Cheese platter
Cheese platter
Lime sherbet for desert
Lime sherbet for desert

It was a comfortable flight for me and I got to catch up on much needed sleep. Singapore to Shanghai is a five hours flight. When I woke up, we had already landed in Shanghai.

The last time I visited Shanghai was five years ago, during an exchange program paid for by the Singapore government. Much have changed since. Every time I visit China, I am overwhelmed by their pace of growth.

Shanghai Pudong International Airport (上海浦东国际机场) looks clean and modern. The check-in was also very speedy, in spite of the heavy human traffic. Staff were courteous and helpful. A reason could be because, one is allowed to rate the custom officer serving you, immediately via a rating box placed in front of the counter where they are seated.

Touch-down in Shanghai
Touch-down in Shanghai
Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Shanghai Pudong International Airport

I expected there to be a sensory overload of Expo ads and mascots at the airport, but was pleasantly surprised that the authorities have exercised much taste and did not engage in such hard-sell tactics. Sans for a few random Haibao (海宝) statues (the official Shanghai Expo mascot), there weren’t much ads on the Expo at the airport.

Lonely Haibao
Lonely Haibao

We were then picked by a car from our hotel to ferry us back. The three of us checked into our hotel, Hyatt on the Bund, at around 4.30pm.

Hyatt pick-up at the airport
Hyatt pick-up at the airport
On our ride to the hotel
On our ride to the hotel
We passed this sprawling suspension bridge along the way
We passed this sprawling suspension bridge along the way
Hotel reception
Hotel reception
The hotel consists of a pair of identical twin towers; one is visible here
The hotel consists of a pair of identical twin towers; one is visible here

After dropping my luggage, I made a few quick phone calls to my friend, Kok Kuan, who just relocated to Shanghai for work a week earlier to join his wife who is already based in Shanghai for around a year. I also contacted a local Shanghainese mutual friend of Kok Kuan and me – Xiaoyan, whom we got to know during the exchange program I mentioned earlier.

As my schedule is quite packed, I figured I am only able to meet up with my friends on the first night and maybe for a short while on the last day morning. Kok Kuan agreed to meet up with me after dinner to go for a drink. He will also contact Xiaoyan and arrange for another get together.

Welcome gifts from Coca-Cola - a bag made of recycled bottles; Shanghai map; Expo guide; Shanghai phone directory; a cap; among many other items
Welcome gifts from Coca-Cola – a bag made of recycled bottles; Shanghai map; Expo guide; Shanghai phone directory; a cap; welcome letter
My hotel room
My hotel room
Bathroom and toilet area
Bathroom and toilet area
View from my hotel window
View from my hotel window

Thereafter, I met up with Walter and we went for a stroll at the landmark Shanghai Bund  (外滩) area. Here’s a useful infographic to help identify all the iconic buildings located on The Bund. Via Wikipedia:

The area centres on a section of Zhongshan Road (East-1 Zhongshan Road) within the former Shanghai International Settlement, which runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River, facing Pudong, in the eastern part of Huangpu District. The Bund usually refers to the buildings and wharves on this section of the road, as well as some adjacent areas. The Bund is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai. Building heights are restricted in this area.

The weather was breezy by the river. Temperature was around 20+ degree Celsius – comfortable air-con temperature to enjoy a leisurely stroll without getting all sweaty.

Ready to head out of the hotel
Ready to head out of the hotel

I was awestruck by the beautiful landscape which fuses modern and heritage architecture. Singapore will not be able to achieve this as we do not have a long and rich heritage like Shanghai, even though we probably have just as many modern buildings.

Colourful traffic signboards
Colourful traffic signboards
Oriental Pearl Tower (东方明珠塔) can be seen across the river
Oriental Pearl Tower (东方明珠塔) can be seen across the river
Another picture of the Oriental Pearl Tower
Another picture of the Oriental Pearl Tower
The tower with water reflection
The tower with water reflection
The People's Heroes Memorial
The People’s Heroes Memorial
There were many security and police officers patrolling the area
There were many security and police officers patrolling the area
F&B vans
F&B vans
The area was relatively crowded
The area was relatively crowded
People zipping through the street
People zipping through the street
Walter taking pictures for his blog
Walter taking pictures for his blog
Me by The Bund
Me by The Bund

The view changes as night falls. The buildings gradually light up one by one, transforming the city into another whole new landscape. The electricity bill to the city municipal must be tremendous though.

Building 13 to 17 on the Bund
Building 13 to 17 on the Bund
The building with the green top is the famous Peace Hotel (和平饭店)
The building with the green top is the famous Peace Hotel (和平饭店)
The Customs House (No. 13)
The Customs House (No. 13)
Wider shot
Wider shot
Lighted fountains
Lighted fountains
Oriental Pearl Tower with water reflection at night
Oriental Pearl Tower with water reflection at night
Another picture showing the stretch of lighted buidings
Another picture showing the stretch of lighted buidings
"I love Expo"
“I love Expo”
More lighted fountains
More lighted fountains
Even the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Heroes' Memorial are lighted too
Even the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Heroes’ Memorial are lighted too
Even the floor was lighted
Even the floor was lighted
Self cam-whore
Self cam-whore
Another picture of me by the river
Another picture of me by the river
Illuminated ship against illuminated backdrop
Illuminated ship against illuminated backdrop
Coca-Cola ad! How appropriate!
Coca-Cola ad! How appropriate!
Another Coca-Cola ad
Another Coca-Cola ad
The memorial looks more solemn as the sky darkens
The memorial looks more solemn as the sky darkens
Some communist revolutionary hero I suppose
Some communist revolutionary hero I suppose
Another hero statue - this one waves a giant cape like Batman and Superman
Another hero statue – this one waves a giant cape like Batman and Superman
Spotted a small, but well-maintained garden on our way back
Spotted a small, but well-maintained garden on our way back
Signboards depicting the various landmarks on The Bund
Signboards depicting the various landmarks on The Bund
Shanghai Expo information booth, manned by volunteers
Shanghai Expo information booth, manned by volunteers

We spent around an hour or so soaking in the Shanghai atmosphere at The Bund before heading back to our hotel for dinner at the in-hotel Aroma restaurant where we will be meeting the other bloggers from around the world.

Inside Aroma restaurant
Inside Aroma restaurant

Over dinner, we met with the team of bloggers from Japan, Thailand and Korea as well as the Coca-Cola representatives from the respective country and the super energetic host in China, Brenda with her local team. We will also meet bloggers from Australia, China and Hong Kong the next day.

Dinner was buffet style and there was a wide international spread available. In general, I often find the food in China a tad too salty and oily for my taste bud. The same applies for this buffet meal. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed my dinner and had fun mingling with the rest of the bloggers and the Coca-Cola staff.

My first helping
My first helping
My second serving
My second helping
Final helping
Final helping

After dinner, I met up with Kok Kuan and his wife, Hairong, together with Walter. We took a cab to a French heritage street, Hengshan Road (衡山路), to settle down for a drink. In the end, we chose a cafe restaurant  called Lapis Lazuli  (藏龙坊) which serves both alcoholic beverages as well as tea and coffee. Their international food menu looks interesting, but we were all too full to eat anything.

Newer commercial establishments
Newer commercial establishments
Strolling through the French heritage street
Strolling through the French heritage street
One of the many historical buildings in the area
One of the many historical buildings in the area
We almost went into this restaurant bar
We almost went into this restaurant bar
But we chose this cafe instead as it looks cosier on the outside
But we chose this cafe instead as it looks cosier on the outside
Cafe interior
Cafe interior

The prices was comparable to Singapore. In fact, we learn over the next few days that the cost of living in Shanghai is almost on par with Singapore, even though the locals still earn less than Singaporeans. Rising cost of living and a squeezed middle class seemed to the problem of all bustling cities around the world.

Walter and I enjoying our drinks in the cafe
Walter and I enjoying our drinks in the cafe
Me with Kok Kuan and Hairong
Me with Kok Kuan and Hairong
I ordered a Lavender milk tea that cost around S$10
I ordered a Lavender milk tea that cost around S$10

Kok Kuan and Hairong shared with us, their insights on working in the PR line in China. Kok Kuan has been in PR since he graduated from NTU where we both schooled. He was the top student in my cohort of mass communications graduates. His wife, Hairong, is a native Hainanese and has worked and studied in Singapore before returning to China. She was a financial journalist and has recently switched to PR to help a Singapore company set up office in Shanghai.

I find the two of them the model overseas and native Chinese couple, set to conquer the world in the 20th century as China continues to grow as a economic and political powerhouse.

That ended my first day in Shanghai. The next day, we will be visiting Coca-Cola’s Global Innovation and Technology Centre in Shanghai. We will also be heading to Xintiandi  (新天地) to do some shopping, ending the day with a posh, fusion dinner at T8,  together with the trio from Expedition 206. Stay tuned. 🙂

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2 comments
  1. Nice post Alvin, and thanks for all the gorgeous photos. It is great that you have captured the first day in such detail as it brings back memories for me too. I think what would be interesting are the different perspectives which we take from our Shanghai Experience. 🙂

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