Today, exactly one year ago, my parents arrived in Shanghai for their first visit to China, and since at the time I didn’t have a blog to share about our experiences yet, I thought today would be a good opportunity to share some of the highlights of that trip.
Day 1: Arrival in Shanghai
I’m flying to Shanghai to meet my parents at the airport, and then we take the transrapid (highspeed train) into the city. Traveling up to 450 km/h (280 m/h).
Day 2: EXPO 2010
Getting up early, because we have one goal: The EXPO 2010 in Shanghai.
My parents want to visit the Africa exhibition, and then we check out Iceland, Norway, Canada, Holland, Finland, the Caribbean Islands, and of course Germany.
Trying not to be biased here, but I have to say that the German pavilion indeed was the highlight of the day (even was awarded the best pavilion officially at the end of the EXPO).
Also, word of the wise: Always check out, whether citizens of the respective country’s pavilion will get preferred treatment. (As German passport holders we could have saved us over two hours of waiting in line to get into the German pavilion; they would have given us direct access, and I think I still haven’t gotten over the fact that we wasted so much time!)
Day 3: Zhu Jia Jiao Water Town
We are visiting Zhu Jia Jiao, a little town outside of Shanghai that is famous for being a miniature Chinese version of Venice. We take a tour on the water, and then go exploring on foot for another couple of hours.
Day 4: The BUND and Home
This is the Shanghai as we know it from the pictures.
We meet up with one of my friends to go to the BUND, the most famous part of the city, take a ferry across the river Pu to have lunch in a mall on the other side, and spend the rest of our afternoon (it’s raining by now) at Starbuck’s. Finally, it’s time to return to our hostel, where a taxi is already waiting for us to take us to the airport. I’m taking my parents home tonight.
Day 5: Around Campus
After a lot of walking around the last couple of days, it’s time for a break. My friend comes to meet my parents, and after a slow morning I’m showing my parents around campus.
Days 6 & 7: Candle Light Ceremony
It’s raining, so we’re taking some time off, hanging around at home. Highlight of day 6: The candle light ceremony to welcome the freshman students at night, with a big show. Some eye-candy for my parents.
Day 8: Kaifeng
Taking my parents on another trip today. To Kaifeng, an old capital of ancient China. After a crazy car ride (the road has been blocked and our faithful driver is trying to find another route, which takes us through some villages, and almost has us stuck in 1-foot-deep mud at one point), we visit the ancient palace and the famed iron pagoda.
Day 9: Shopping in the City
We’re heading into the city today, where I’m taking my parents shopping. The tech market is a must for my dad:
And then we go to metro where we can buy some Western (German) food.
Day 10: Xi’An – Muslim Market
We are taking off again. This time with the bullet train to Xi’An. It’s raining when we arrive, and taking a thoroughly crowded city bus, we find our way to the hostel, which is right at the South section of the old city wall. After settling in, we go about exploring, and I take my parents to the Muslim Market where they sell lots of fake stuff. We don’t buy anything, because my parents don’t want to carry around so much stuff, but my dad sure has fun with the “Lolex”-watches they are offering him at every corner!
Day 11: Terracotta Warriors
The terracotta army, of course, is a must for every Xi’An traveler. We booked a tour that is taking us to the Ban Po Museum (some old settlements around Xi’An), the tomb of Qinshihuang (one old emperor), a terracotta factory (the only one that sells the “real” high quality terracotta soldier imitations – what’s “real” anyways?), and then the army. We’re bad tourists, not buying much of anything, but we are impressed by what we see unfold before our eyes in the vaults.
Day 12: City Wall and Home
We have about all morning before we need to catch our train home, so we decide to rent bikes and ride around the city wall. It takes us about 1 1/2 hours, though we could have spent a lot more on that wall, and it is a lot of fun to see the city from up there.
On our way home, my parents are nearly overwhelmed by the vast number of people that are out by the train station when we get off the train. But then, one of the biggest holidays of the year is approaching, so more people are out than usual!
Day 13: At Home
It’s a big holiday today, and we decided to spend the day at home. There will be too much traffic, and too many people – not much fun – if we tried to do something touristy. Instead, my dad is using one of the last chances to fix up my bike. Now I have lights, and a properly attached basket at the front.
Day 14: Wedding and Into Town
I’m invited to the wedding of a friend, and of course I’m bringing my parents with me for the experience. After the ceremony, we are all invited to a big lunch with all the wedding guests.
By about 2 pm everything is over, and while my dad stays home to rest, my mom and I take the bikes and go into town exploring.
Day 15: Mountain Climbing
Still too much holiday traffic, so today we decided to take my parents and some colleagues to go mountain climbing (we found this area nearby that isn’t drawing too many visitors yet). Looking at the pictures now, I can’t believe I did this to my parents and had them climb this rough terrain. But if they were uncomfortable at the time, they did a good job hiding that!
Afterward we went out for a well-deserved hot pot dinner with our friends. Delicious!
Day 16: To Beijing
We are on the road again. This time to Beijing.
By the time we make it to the hostel, it’s dark already. But we go exploring the vicinity and are excited.
We ended up in a neat area of Beijing that only recently has been restored. At night it’s the most beautiful place to go shopping, since all the buildings are neatly lit and give this place a very special flair.
Day 17: Aquarium, Pandas and a Market
We’re setting out to go to the Forbidden City (within walking distance from our hostel). When we get there, we are so overwhelmed by the number of people (still from the holiday) that we decide to change plans, and I take my parents to the aquarium instead. This includes a peek at the famed panda bears, too.
Afterwards, I finally want to do some shopping, too! I’m taking my parents to the foreign trade market, where we spend hours shopping, bargaining, and finally finding stuff to buy for everyone (including other members of the family).
Day 18: Summer Palace and IKEA
The tourist program continues: Today we make our way to the summer palace, where we spend hours walking around and taking in all the sights.
Afterward, I’m dragging my parents to IKEA, where I want to do some more shopping (I gotta take that chance, as there is not much chance to do shopping of the likes where I live). Sorry, dad, who decides to wait for us at the restaurant, where we eventually will have our dinner.
Day 19: The Great Wall
We are meeting up with one of my friends, and he takes us to the Great Wall. It’s a spot that hasn’t been discovered by the masses of tourists yet, and with the first traces of autumn showing, it’s the perfect getaway to escape all the hustle and bustle of the city. Time to breathe and enjoy some grand scenery at the same time!
The wall can get real steep at some places, and after a short hike, my parents decided they had enough. But they let me and my friends continue and enjoyed a leisurely hour on the wall while waiting for us.
And I? I thoroughly enjoy having the wall pretty much to ourselves!
Afterwards we enjoyed a good meal before heading back to the city.
Day 20: Forbidden City and Saying Goodbye
It’s our last chance to see the Forbidden City. So we make our second attempt, and this time nothing can stop us.
We take a thorough tour of the grounds before we return to our hostel where all our stuff is packed up already, since we are about to part. My parents back to Germany, and I will return home. There are still a few more hours left together, but since we are so tired from all that walking earlier, we decide to spend the remaining time at Häagen Dasz, eating desserts, and chilling.
Thankfully, no one there is bothered by us hanging out there for more than two hours, until the time has come to say goodbye. I hope to see them in China again, some day!