It was a long flight, 12 hours to Tokyo, a few hours layover then a 4 hour flight to Shanghai. It was almost a full 24 hours from departure in Minneapolis to arriving at my hotel.
The flight to Tokyo was a large plane and was packed. Since we were flying west it stayed light until just before landing, added to the surrealness of it all.
Customs in Japan and China was a breeze ( actually the whole trip, which has not been the case for me in several years since my common name is on the no-fly list.)
I was impressed by the size of the airport in Shanghai. Easily the most immense complex I've ever seen. Very modern and spacious, the few hundred people at baggage claim seemed small compared to the space.
The taxi ride to the hotel also had the same feeling. Lots of well lit roads with very few people traveling. As we got closer to the city center I expected to see a crowded city, but most of the large apartment buildings we passed looked mostly empty and the city seemed asleep. I arrived at the hotel (Ramada Plaza) around 10:30pm local time. Even when I got to my room and looked out the window the city seemed quite and sparse.
The hotel guests seem to mostly be western -- breakfast was a mixed fare of west and east. Because of my egg-free diet, I ate mostly veggies and rice. The city is starting to come alive, but again not as crowded as I had anticipated. I'm sure there are parts of this megacity that are dense, but the area I'm in feels like a European business center. I can see the Best Buy offices from my room and the hotel is running an Agile conference for HP. ;)
I complete my travel to the clinic in the morning, should arrive late afternoon. Feeling good, all limbs are functioning well. My speech is slurred and slow, but I'm not talking much so it's not a problem. I have a few apps on my iPad that let me type in English and it will translate to Mandarin, as well as allow others to type or draw Mandarin with translation back.
Everyone I have encountered has been very friendly and helpful, a great start to the trip!
More from Zhongfang in a day or so!
Much love and gratitude,