Asia 2015

Asia 2015 Day 2: Shanghai to Tokyo

Tuesday September 8, 2015

We woke up and got packed for our trip to Tokyo before heading out to see some of the sights in Shanghai. Our first stop was People’s Square. We took the metro line 6 to line 2 and emerged at People’s Square. In my short time in Shanghai I had been to this area a couple of times so I felt fairly comfortable leading Daniel on a mini-tour. 

After People’s Square we walked down the East Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall towards the Bund admiring the hustle and bustle of the people and of course the many hawkers trying to get us to have a massage or fake bag or whatever. When we finally reached the Bund, we pulled out our phones and did a Periscope broadcast to family and friends back home showing them the spectacular Pudong skyline from the Bund. 

Next up, I took Daniel one one of my favorite Cheesy attractions, the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. It’s a people mover type system that runs under the Huangpu River with a multimedia extravaganza in English and Mandarin. People I take on it are usually startled and not sure what to make of it, but I love it to bits. We arrived in Pudong back at Lujiazui and headed again to Superbrand mall for lunch. This time we settled on Caliburger. Caliburger was basically fake In-N-Out but they had changed the colors to be different but still featured the palm trees in their logo. I actually like them, but Daniel was indifferent (“Its not In-n-Out”).

It was then time for us to head back to the apartment to get our bags and set out to the Pudong Airport again. The reception desk called for a cab and I will pause here to explain that cabs in Shanghai are really a crapshoot. You never know what you are going to get with your driver. Sometimes they take the scenic route and sometimes they go directly there. Sometimes they drive like a race car driver and sometimes they drive like its their first time behind the wheel. Sometimes its clean and nice and other times you are wondering just how much dirt is in the car and if your foot is going through the floorboard. We were lucky to get a normal cab, but we got the “extended voyage” as the driver seemed to make his own way to the airport.

The bus to the aircraft

Luckily we still arrived at the terminal in time. Turns out Pudong stuck to its guns and we were over 30 minutes late leaving Shanghai for Tokyo on Air China. We also lost the jetway lottery as we ended up on the bus from the terminal to the aircraft sitting out in the open and taking the flight stairs to get on the plane. The flight itself was fairly easy except for the normal turbulence when you start to get over Japan. The several times I have flown between the US and China, we always ran into turbulence over southern Japan prior to crossing the China sea into China.

Heading to Japan

We cruised into Narita airport late and because it was towards the end of their operating day, most of the shops in the airport were closed. We wanted to get a data sim card for our time in Japan and luckily we found a machine. It took some time to get the card and get it set up but once we did we headed for the trains. Lucky for us, there was one more high speed train for Tokyo central left. In hindsight we should have just grabbed the card and set off for Tokyo instead of trying to get it figured out. 

This was our first time back in Tokyo since 2004 and it felt so strange to be there. For me after 4 months in China it was culture shock and the refreshing feeling of not being jet-lagged for once when I was in Japan. Our Kiesei Skyliner train made good time and we connected with the local Asakusa Metro line at Asakusa station and headed to the Higashi-Ginza Station. Thanks to our research we found the exit that was adjacent to our hotel, the Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel. 

It was super late by the time we got to the hotel – after midnight, but luckily there were still people at the reception desk and we got settled in our room super quickly. I will say, this is easily the nicest place I have ever stayed in Tokyo and it was super well laid out. I even enjoyed the toilet that raised its lid automatically whenever someone would walk too close to the bathroom. 

Time to crash – long day of shopping tomorrow!