Morning calls were scheduled for 1.5hrs before we had to depart. This was a little tight when you have to account for two people getting ready, pack bags when applicable, which are collected half an hour after wakeup call and have breakfast so we started a habit of setting an alarm to give us an additional half an hour so that we didn’t feel as rushed.
Breakfast was excellent. They catered for a mixture of Western and Eastern food for the (buffet) breakfast but we couldn’t not try the different foods that they had out. Of the ones that I recall they had chicken sausages, Orleans chicken wings, sticky rice, fruit platter, steamed buns (meat and sweet – I had pork, which was really good), taro root, fried veg, marinated eggs, noodles and plenty of things that I can’t recall. We didn’t try all of it – far from it due to the time and stomach capacity but what we did try was really good.
The tour today started off with Yu Garden (the emperor’s garden). We navigated through a marketplace to get there. As it was so crowded and not one of the specific points of interest I took a few snaps on my phone.
Yu Garden Market
This lead us through the garden area, where we drank in the sights.
After visiting the gardens it was then on to a silk factory. It looked like a small place from the outside that practically blended in with its surroundings. I didn’t take any photos of the shop itself but it was basically just doors in a wall with plaques either side.
We were met by one of the reps, who explained the benefits of real silk (cool in summer, warm in winter, naturally hypoallergenic, please buy, please buy), the life cycle of the silkworms and how they take and process the silk from them.
After going through and trying out stretching a layer of silk onto a board, which will go on to be the filling for a duvet. The bedding that they had for sale looked stunning but silk bedding has a tendency to slide off the bed. The section of the shop after the bedding was for basically everything else, where we picked up a couple of gifts.
The last thing on the agenda in Shanghai was boarding the bullet train to Beijing. Their timings are very strict, so much so that apparently the bullet train arrival might deviate at most by a minute. It stops for two minutes at each station between the ends of the lines and that’s it. Apparently it’s very common for smoking addicts to hop off the train at a station, smoke a full cigarette then hop back on the train before it departs!
Sadly for our timing there was a meeting of high-ranking officials across the country in Beijing so security was ludicrous. Ordinarily you’re allowed compressed liquids (deodorants, hair sprays, etc) up to 120ml, which is quite strict anyway. Due to the heightened security we weren’t allowed any at all. There’s no “checked in” luggage so this applies to bags that would equate to both carry-on bags and checked in bags on planes. So, we had to give up two bottles of deodorant that were about the size of a walnut, along with bug spray, shaving foam and after-bite spray, all of which we had made sure to pick up in the UK within the train’s (normal) restrictions. Autumn held on to them for us for when we got back to Shanghai but as that was the end of the trip it wasn’t much help to us for the trip.