Arriving at Shanghai was a pretty interesting experience. My flight wasn’t scheduled to land until about 5:30pm, but it was around 25 minutes early. I was nervous as I exited the plane and made my way over to the customs window. My biggest fear was that they would start asking questions about why I only purchased a one-way ticket to China considering that I had a tourist visa. I’ve only traveled to two other countries before, and both times I had been asked several questions before I was permitted to enter the country.
China turned out to be completely different though. When I got up to the customs window I handed over my passport as well as an ‘Arrival Card’ that I had pre-filled on the plane. A girl about my age looked over my documents, asked me to look into a camera in front of me with a screen, and that was it! I was shocked because she didn’t ask a single thing!
After I got through customs I grabbed my luggage and made my way to purchase a ticket to ride the maglev. It’s a magnetic levitating train (hence the name) that runs from the airport and connects to the Metro 2 line. You could also leave the airport by taxi or bus, but the maglev is a fast and fun experience. The maglev speed peaked at just over 300km/hr and I was surprised that it actually tilts quite a bit from side-to-side. I would have liked to record a video of the experience, but I had my camera locked away in my backpack to keep it safe from pickpockets.
If you have any luggage or large bags you HAVE to run it through a security checkpoint every time before riding the metro. Getting on and off trains here is nothing like it is in Japan. No one waits in lines for the trains, and people begin rushing to get on before the other passengers have even gotten off. You have to be prepared for a lot of pushing and shoving while you’re here. Even if you are in a line people will look directly at you and then step in front of you.
There seems to be a complete lack of orderly conduct in any public Chinese setting. I woke up the next day at the hotel to a chorus of car horns and shouting on the streets below me. Vehicles and bikes weave in between each other, and no one seems to have a clear right-of-way when it comes to traffic. Every minute I see pedestrians only inches away from getting hit by a vehicle. If you’re standing at a crosswalk and the light for you to walk turns green, watch out because some taxi or bike is about to plow your ass over.
Sorry this post is already much longer than I intended it to be. I’ll post more as the days progress, and I actually get to do some sightseeing.