Sleepless in Shanghai

(Shanghai) The moment I set foot on China Eastern Airlines flight 582 from Vancouver to Shanghai, I was greeted with Asian hospitality. It didn’t hurt to be flying business class for the pampering, but what struck me was the humility in which the hosts and hostesses served us. Periodically they would almost bow and smile. Their charm made up for their slight lack of English skills.

It was similar to India where guides would sway their heads back and forth in a figure-eight, as if to assure you you that anything they could do to assist me in feeling comfortable – would be done. But it is the humility that is different from North American no-nonsense service oriented smiles.

This is not the first time that ventures to China. My good friend and colleague Jura Nanuk flew across this country, and its ironic that after his trip it was an image of the Shanghai skyline that he gave me. Well, now here I am: sleepless in Shanghai and smack in the former French Colonial district. While driving into the city I felt like a small-town boy, and Jura’s image did justice the modernity of this city, whose population is a whopping 15 million plus. Skyscrapers go up here like grass grows in a field. Their flashing lights and sheer number are mind-boggling, especially when you think that seventy percent of them were built after the 1990s.

I’m staying at the Jin Jiang Tower, a historic hotel here. I just came up from the piano bar where I had a glass of Tsingtao, a local beer produced with spring water from Laoshan, a mountain area famous throughout China for the purity of its water. The hotel is a landmark five-star and has hosted more than 300 heads of state. In the piano bar itself – located in the hotel’s massive lobby – were pictures of some of them as they went about their work in the hotel. There was a jovial Russian President Boris Yeltsin – perhaps a little tipsy looking and chatting up a few good looking Chinese girls, and there was former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien getting onto his bike, and one of Cuban Revolutionary leader Fidel Castro signing an accord, in better days.

So here’s looking at you… let me try to get at least some sleep…

Where I’m staying:
Jin Jiang Tower
161 Chang Le Road
Shanghai, China
Phone: [86] 21 641 51188
Cultural Navigator rating: 8.2/10

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