All white now in wintry Shanghai
IT was a midwinter’s morning in Shanghai as I prepared to set off to join a minibus tour to Hangzhou, West Lake and other tourist spots well outside the city.
Before I left in a taxi for the collection point, the concierge at the Sofitel Shanghai Hyland advised that the weather would be cold and fine but with a chance of the occasional snow flurry,
Under the portico of one of the hotels on the fringe of the French Concession district I met tour guide Daisy and my fellow passengers. Soon, we were on the bus and under way. As the journey progressed, the temperature dropped noticeably and gathering clouds looked more threatening. After lunch, our collective enthusiasm waned for walking around yet another temple in such cold conditions. At our last scheduled stop, snowflakes started dropping from the gunmetal-coloured sky. Forget any notion of gentle, polite flurries — these were seriously big flakes, and lots of them. Within minutes the wind had risen and the wind chill reminded me of a Canadian winter.
We scurried to the bus, looking forward to being back in our comfortable hotels after a journey that should take 90 minutes.
But easing on to the freeway, we encountered lanes of barely moving traffic and the snow was now blowing horizontally in an increasingly hostile wind. On the parallel service roads we could see workers leaving factory gates and straining to push or pedal their bicycles. Daisy received word from her office we would be better off taking the back roads. Good advice, but even so, it was past 9pm when we reached the drop-off point, which was two hours behind schedule.
Very quickly I realised the long queue for cabs was scarcely moving. Walking seemed a better bet. I sussed out the right direction and trudged into the snowy darkness until I saw an illuminated Starbucks sign brightening the gloom. It was open, albeit with just three customers, and proved a handy pit stop.
Then, back out to the streets where there was scarcely a vehicle and no pedestrians.
Finally, I reached the Sofitel Shanghai Hyland near Nanjing Road East. There, my new best friend, the bartender, poured me a double scotch. In retrospect, it was a day’s touring, amid the rare snows of Shanghai, that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: email@example.com. au. Columnists receive a pair of quality beach towels in bright prints and structured geometrics from popular lifestyle brand KAS Australia. $119.90 ($59.95 each). More: (02) 8035 2244; kasaustralia.com.au.