Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Floating on air

Is 431km/h the fastest we have ever travelled on land? I'm not certain it counts as we were actually floating above the ground. Today we caught the Maglev, the magnetic levitation train, between Shanghai and Pudong Airport.

I think we finally worked out Shanghai metro's ticketing system. You can't reuse your ticket when interchanging between Line 3 and Line 1 at Shanghai station. But you can when interchanging between Lines 3, 4 and 2! It was a roundabout way to get to the airport and, at RMB50 per person for the Maglev ride, perhaps not the cheapest. But it was a fun, if shortlived, pleasure.

The amazing thing about the Maglev is how smooth and unnoticable the acceleration is. I've caught both the Shinkansen and TGV and neither were as smooth as the Maglev. Wish we could travel to work on one!

The flight between Shanghai and Guilin was the best yet of this trip. Shanghai Airlines seemed okay, though sometimes their English announcements were garbled and the coconut cream roll as a bit stale. The KitKat was good, though. I had forgotten how good chocolate tastes.

I thoroughly recommend a daytime flight to Guilin. The approach over the limestone karsts and the shimmering mosaics of the rice paddy fields was spectacular. It was the sunniest weather all trip, though the smog layer was always visible.

Our room at the Guishan Hotel has wonderful views of limestone karsts. The grounds also seem quite pleasant. We walked down to the local shops, purchasing tiny sweet mangos and bananas from the market vendors, ordered meat and tofu skewers with the help of some giggling schoolgirls.

Dinner was delicious guilin rice noodles and fried fish in a sweet and sour style sauce. Guilin seems to be a relaxed (except for the traffic) small city and a pleasant place for an evening walk.

Off on a Li River cruise to Yanghshuo tomorrow.