Friday 22 February 2013


Here's a first: this week's NZ Herald Travel containing my (cut) Easter Island story on page 5 - and then, on page 10-11, the Firstborn's account of her junket last year to China. Yes, yes, she has stories in the main paper all the time, and frequently on the front page, but that's what she was trained for. It takes a different set of skills to write as entertainingly and informatively as this about a destination, and that's why I'm unfairly claiming some DNA-based credit for her story about channelling her inner shopper in Shanghai.

I have been to the city myself, but only for half a day at the end of our cruise with Silversea up the coast from Hong Kong, so the visit was tinged a little with regret at leaving behind the friendly luxury of the Silver Whisper. It was also shortly before the city hosted the World Expo, and it was full of road diversions, bamboo scaffolding and the smell of wet cement as it raced to get ready. Even so, it was an astonishing place, especially to arrive at along the river one murky morning, under elegant suspension bridges and past all those bizarre skyscrapers on the Pudong side (so many of them now, and so heavy, that apparently the ground is cracking under the weight - which hasn't stopped construction on the Shanghai Tower, to be the second-tallest building in the world after the Burj Khalifa).

We just had a quick look around and visited some character buildings, and then caught the Maglev train out to the airport. That's as in 'magnetically levitated' off the rails so there's no friction slowing it down. We waited for the boring 300kmh train to go so that we could catch the fast one, that went 434kmh at its fastest - so fast that by the time I got my camera trained (ha!) on the indicator, it had already started slowing down again. It was super-smooth, quiet, really tilted on the corners, and got us to the airport in just 7 minutes. Shame the flight home couldn't have been equally quick.

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