As I arrive at Shanghai Pudong airport, I am very tired. I have not been able to sleep more than two hours during the nine hours flight.
My first goal is to get to the hotel and leave the backpack. I booked the same hotel than the last time I was in Shanghai. I quickly recognise the street and find my way into the lobby. Seventh Heaven Hotel lobby is on the seventh floor, very appropriate.
The receptionist says out loud, without looking at me, that the check-in is at 14:00. That works for me. I want to leave the backpack and go to see the city. The receptionist decides to ask for my passport as an afterthought and checks for the reservation. I like that; I always like to solve any problem with the booking as soon as possible. Now, with increased energy, the receptionist offers to check me in right now in a two beds room as there is one already available. I happily accept as it is even better to be set up than to have to check-in after a day of visiting the city. I spend 10 minutes in the room, and I am ready to go outside.
I wander the city without any clear direction. I take one of the long roads and walk forward. Sooner or later, I will find interesting places. And I do. I notice a park, some shops, and directions to a temple.
I follow the signs and find the Jing’an Temple. The interior is noisy and full of people. Visitors are a mix of devotees and tourists. Some visitors are both. A several-meters-high brazier in the centre of the courtyard gets everybody attention. People are throwing coins and trying to get them inside the metal receptacle. It proves to be more difficult that it seems. One guy gives up after a couple of throwings and losing the coin. The temple has impressive halls that form intricate alleys. It is a fantastic place surrounded by high glass buildings.
As I still have some time remaining before sunset, I go to the park I saw earlier. Jingan Park, now I know its name. It is nothing out of the extraordinary, but it is a welcome stop in the busy city. There are trees with yellow, brown and red leaves. Last year I was too late to see the fall in Japan, this year I was too early in Osaka. It is nice to see the colours here. What it is just a short stop for me seems a delightful place for the neighbourhood residents. People are exercising, others are dancing, and there is a group playing a game where they keep kicking a small ball without letting it touch the ground. Jianzi (Chinese: 毽子) seems to be very popular in China. To play, you only need a weighted shuttlecock, one or more companions and good reflexes.
Going back to the hotel, I see a Christmas market. It has many well-done handicrafts and cheap, mass-produced items. So many things tempt me to buy something. But, anything that I buy now, I am going to carry it for the rest of the trip. I will be back to Shanghai, anyway.
I stop by a Food Hall in the pedestrian’s street close to the hotel. I buy some Japanese and French food. I am too tired to look for something else, and I have not found yet what I do like to eat in China. It has been a long day and only the first one of my trip.