All white now in win­try Shang­hai

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - DAVID WIL­LIAMS

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: travel@theaus­tralian.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.

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