A travelling day today, getting to Chongqing airport took an hour, then the flight was delayed, it took 2 hours to fly to Shanghai, an age waiting for luggage and then an hour into the city centre through the sprawling suburbs, spreading like algae on the rich nutrients of the Chinese economy. The appalling smog must have made landing the aircraft tricky and my nose has gradually withdrawn its services since I arrived. My guide tells me it’s the sandstorms from Mongolia that cause the problem. Oink, flap.
A visit to another Buddhist temple was made into a highlight by the white jade statue of a sitting Buddha. Carved from a single stone in Burma, this magnificent artwork had a glowing serenity to it, a sentience of its own (no photos allowed – see http://www.yangtzeriver.org/yzgallery/shanghai-pictures/jade-buddha-temple/ for picture – scroll through slideshow till you get to sitting Buddha). I could have stayed for hours but we had to leave as it was closing time.
On to the Nanjing Road – Shanghai’s Oxford Street. It is pedestrianised, but don’t let that fool you. Just as zebra crossings in China serve only to lure the unwary, so the Nanjing Road is crossed by several trafficked roads, whose drivers think the pedestrians are there for sport. Eventually I was allowed to dive into the sanctuary of the Astor House hotel, a Victorian building right by the river in the centre of the old part of town. Previous guests include Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin – and now me! The hotel maintains a certain hauteur and, though she is a little aged, she straightens her back, keeps her make-up on, juts her chin and ignores the young upstarts across the river.