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A nice walk and an unusual train in Shanghai

Following on from my (longer than expected) article about how to pay for things in China I wanted to also write a bit about Shanghai.

As with my last trip, the time available for sightseeing was short, but the spring weather was beautiful. We had one very enjoyable evening sat outside in a river-side beer garden drinking German-style beer, and then I was able to walk 3km along the river back to my hotel. The riverside path reminded me of the South Bank in London, but with the mid-twentieth century concrete carbuncles replaced by 21st century illuminated towers of glass and steel. There was also plenty of beautiful greenery to break up the monotony of urban development, as well as separate paths for walkers, runners and cyclists.

Another new experience on this trip was taking the maglev train to the airport. I was initially surprised to see a trackbed without any rails but then realised that a train using magnetic levitation would have no need of traditional rails! While the train has previously run with a cruising speed of 431km/h, sadly it now only runs at 301km/h which is about the same as conventional high speed trains. However, it was still a novel experience on some very impressive technology—the ride is exceptionally smooth and quiet.

From a practical perspective it was easy too: the timetable is simply “every 20 minutes” but the journey takes less than ten so you can turn up at the station and be assured of being at the airport within 30 minutes for a very reasonable price. I paid less than £5 after showing a print out of my itinerary as proof of same day plane ticket to obtain a 20% discount. It was also not busy when I travelled which added to the comfort, although the station itself is fairly large so it took a while to navigate to the right platform when transferring from the metro. Wikipedia claims there are only six operational maglev trains in the world today, all in Asia, so I recommend enjoying this one if you have have the opportunity.