United Airlines SFO – Shanghai PVG bad experience

United Airlines

Yesterday I took for may be 10th time the United Airlines flight from SFO to Shanghai Pudong. The flight has been serviced via a very aging Boeing 747 which is was old a year ago already.

The flight yesterday was rather disappointing. Here is why I say that: – the seats on the plane were obviously tired and rather uncomfortable
– since the plane does not have in-seat entertainment screens, you would have to either watch the TVs that are for all to share or watch on your own phone or tablet – there are two problems with that approach

A) the audio jack on my seat was busted…so no way to watch the shared programs unless you want to make up your own stories as you watch the "silent" movie…

B) the WiFi service was very intermittent-I tried to watch Game of Thrones….but the games ended up very choppy 🙂 The streaming kept pausing and starting- until I finally gave up

So why are we being kidded that there is a "convenient" service to select your own entertainment …? Yes you can do that by downloading your own movies from Netflix or Amazon Prime Video

So, to top this I had also a mishap with the butter during the breakfast service As you probably know – the trays get served
Hot with some meal – as a result the butter in the small container had melted and when I tried to open it, the content – liquid butter – poured all over my shirt! I was pretty unhappy!

Now – why would you put the butter on a hot tray? How can you possibly use that butter?

All this point to is sloppy service – I do not see another explanation…

So bad service, no entertainment, great way to spend 13 hours on the plane….!

Oh, oh, and to top this our flight was delayed by 1 hour… the plane just came late into SFO so we left at 3pm rather than 1:30 pm and even though the pilot tried we were still late…. why a long haul flight had a plane that was late to come in for its flight is a mystery to me…. bad planning ?

Don't know, but the net result was frustrating experience

One of the flight attendants told me this plane was being decommissioned in one month – for sure that is a positive step. Hope the hot trays and melted butter goes away too 🙂

By the way, I fly quite a bit on American as well – you can see my review of their business class to Europe, from a flight this summer…Hm…

United Club international terminal at SFO – painfully slow renovation

United Club

Almost 14 months ago I came through SFO on my way to Texas. At the time I was coming back from Japan after major delays due to a taifun which is why I vividly remember the date At any rate that was late August 2016. At that time United was already renovating the Club in the international terminal. 13-14 months later, the saga continues The Club is packed with people constantly. The coffee machines are often out of order – no wonder – one machine!! for the whole club … The food area gets pretty messy too – again – one of them for the whole Club The line at checkin stretches well out in the terminal outside of the lounge premises… I could continue….but you get the picture I wonder – how long does it take to renovate a club ? Over an year?! Really???

Nanjiing: Clean, and Picturesque: a Great Day Trip from Shanghai


With multiple high speed trains running daily between Shanghai and Nanjing, you can travel quickly and comfortably enough between the two cities to make Nanjing a reasonable day trip from Shanghai.  With the fastest train taking a mere 1:39, you may spend more time getting to the train station and waiting for your train than on your actual train journey. Fare-wise, it is quite reasonable, with a perfectly pleasant second class ticket running 135 RMB and a splurge to first class priced at 229 RMB. 

China, Nanjing

How to get around in Nanjing:

Taxis are pretty reasonably priced, with the meter starting at 9RMB, as opposed to 16 RMB in Shanghai, and they seem to be relatively easy to get.  However, the metro is definitely an excellent choice as well. It is clean, quick and quite pleasant. Fares vary, but all of our trips ranged from either 2 RMB to 3 RMB, so they are definitely priced right. And of course walking is definitely an option as well, depending on the weather when you are visiting.

China, Nanjing

Sites to see:

During our visit to Nanjing, we visited three main sites: the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Museum, Zhongshan Mountain Park and the Zhang He Shipyard Park.  Although a very sobering experience, the Nanjing Massacre Museum was definitely a worthwhile visit. Not only will you leave there with a clearer idea of the scope of the loss of life and atrocities committed, you also have the opportunity to learn about the people who risked their lives to help the people of Nanjing. I was surprised to read about the many westerners who chose to stay in Nanjing and try to protect its residents rather than flee the country. It was quite inspiring.

China, Nanjing

Zhongshan Scenic Area is surprisingly large and extremely nice. Nestled within the park are a number of interesting historic sites, but the Scenic Area is a great place to spend time even if you never view any of the sites. You can get a break from urban Chinese life by hiking for hours in a truly clean, green and lovely area.   And even better, while admission to some of the historic sites costs money, the Scenic Area itself is free. If hiking isn't your thing, or you get tired of hiking in loveliness and want a change of pace, you have a number of excellent options to choose from. We only had time to experience two of them, but they were both very interesting. First, we visited the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum. With a number of attractive buildings, interesting plaques and fitness challenging stairs, the Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum was a great place to take pictures and learn more about a person central to modern Chinese history. After visiting the Mausoleum and feeling super fit from all the stair climbing, we traipsed through the forest on very pleasant, well maintained paths over to the Ming Tombs.  Again, everything was kept extremely clean, there was a great deal of traditional Chinese architecture set off by green trees and flowers, and many excellent photo opportunities presented themselves.  I don't know that I learned very much about the Ming Tombs, but I had a thoroughly pleasant walk. Overall, it is a great place to visit. Due to time constraints, we only saw a few of the sites available in the Zhongshan Scenic Area, but if the ones we saw are a fair sampling, the others are likely to be great to visit as well.

Zhang He Treasure Ship Park

Finally, on our last day, we visited the Zhang He Treasure Ship Park. (here is a reference to Zhang He on Wikipedia).   There was also a lengthy book published on the topic – see here:


This is a much less well known tourist location–the staff at the hotel hadn't heard of it, and our taxi driver had a hard time finding it, but it was quite nice. Admission was 30 RMB for our one adult and one student (so it was probably 20 RMB for the adult and 10 for the student), and I definitely found it worthwhile, despite the almost complete lack of English on any of the plaques. For your 20 RMB adult admission, you get to see a number of fragments of ancient things which probably had something to do with Zhang He's ship (but we left guessing due to the lack of English translation), you get to see an excellent reconstruction of Zhang He's ship (but only from the outside, sadly) and you get a very nice park to walk around. Overall, definitely a win, but not to the level of the Zhongshan Scenic Area.


Shanghai Views: Pudong Liujiazui at Night


Everyone (at least in Shanghai) knows Liujiazui as the financial district of the city (and may be of the country).  It is an impressive area of this fascinating city.

It is also somewhat of a symbolic aspect of the new, highly developed and powerful Shanghai.  Why is that?  Well, because of its location – Liujiazui is located directly across the river from the Old financial district of Shanghai – the Bund (Waitan) – which is where the famous Paris of the Orient was headquartered back in the day….

I like the area though for its innovative and aggressive architecture.   Most people coming to see Shanghai see it from a distance – from the Puxi area – as they go for the "mandatory" tour of fhe Bund.

In this posting I will give you a view and taste of it as you walk among the huge skyscrapers and see it also at night.

China, Shanghai, Pudong, Liujiazui
View of night Liujiazui
China, Shanghai, Pudong, Liujiazui
View of the Shanghai Tower as you approach the Liujiazui area

Enjoy the show – for more images from this fascinating place, check out the gallery published Travel Photo Blog – here is a link to the Liujiazui At Night gallery.

Shanghai – Improving Sky But Still Days When it is Pretty Bad

Shanghai Skyline

In earlier postings I was proudly showing the sunny skies of the city.  Then things changed – the fog (smog) came back earlier this week.  Things became ugly – weather feels oppressive, hot somewhat but more importantly, feels hard to breath….

Then last night it rained and all of a sudden things are good again.

China,Shanghai, Zhabei, Shanghai Train Station, Shanghai Clear Sky Day
Shanghai Smog Day… 🙁

You can see the same image from the same vantage point – just different days of the same week…. What a difference some rain makes….


Yu Gardens – People Watching at Best

Yu Gardens People Watching

China, Shanghai, Yu GardensIn the previous posting I talked about Yu Gardens and the fact that you want to avoid the weekend crowds.  Now, one potential beneficial aspect of the large crowds on the weekend is the ability to do some people watching and catch some cute photos.

As we walked from the metro station to the area, we were quickly surrounded my a large number of people – having the same idea as us — or I should say our daughter's "…we have time, let's go to the park…"

Our daughter who has spent a significant amount of time in China over the years, starting from the age of 5….all of a sudden decided that she has not really seen the gardens and before she heads back the the States for college, wanted to get her fix of old China architecture.   So last Saturday, we jumped on the metro and headed to the gardens…..did I say before 🙂 together with a few others 🙂

As we were approaching the Yu Yuan we came across an interesting gathering – a local fruit concontion vendor was filming a promotional act for how good their mango drink and fruit bowl is — so take a look at the photos below – the little girl in the photo is so great in her desire to sip as much as possible of the fruit juice…

China, Shanghai, Yu Yuan, Yu Gardens
Who is enjoying the mango drink…?
China, Shanghai, Yu Yuan, Yu Gardens, Mango
Another photo of the happy girls….

In the mean time — here is a link to a whole lot more photos from Yu Yuan.

Shanghai: Yu Gardens and Qibao Old Town

Yu Yuan – Yu Garden

I think Shanghai has plenty of well known places to visit – many of them are worth the trip as they are spectacular, but some while beautiful, have become overrun by visitors and are rather tough to experience and enjoy.  I chalk the Yu Gardens (Yu Yuan) to that category.

China, Shanghai, Yu Yuan, Yu Garden China, Shanghai, Yu Garden 

Visited yesterday, on a Saturday mid-day.  The place was purely packed with people – no other way to put it.  If you do want to come and see it, first read through some of the background information on the area – to help you understand the history – then may ne uou can enjoy it some more (besides the overwhelming number of people around)

The Garden was supposedely built during the Ming dynasty around 400 years ago.   The main attractions are just the beautiful architecture and the interesting settings of water features and multi-turns bridge.  

Overall, you need to visit the place in order to gather a better feel for its beauty and significance.

Now, if you prefer something a bit more authethic, you may be better off in visiting Qibao

Qibao is one of the many water towns located around Shanghai.  It is believed the town was built in the 10th century A.D. during the Song dynasty.  

You can jump on the number 9 metro line and look for the Qibao stop.  Once you are there, look for the number 2 exit which will bring you to signs for the Qibao Old Street.

China, Shanghai, Qibao
Qibao Old Town

Overall, come here to experience the views and interesting architecture.  May be you can even find some wood or souveniers to buy….Up to you….

Check out the photo album I have added at the Travel Photo Web site.  I will keep adding albums there.

Happy Travels!





Shanghai Weekend Morning – at the Bund

The Bund

Shanghai sites are always very crowded – let's face it – the city is a magnet for tourists from all over.  The Bund is one of the main attractions in the city and as a result it gets huge crowds.  You can see in one of my previous postings….

So, what should you do???  Well, go there on an early Saturday morning – and you will get a much better experience.

You can check out a lot more photos at my Travel Photos blog – a gallery of that experience, and another page containing links to more photo albums from China

Here are some photos

China, Shanghai, Waitan 

China, Shanghai, Waitan
Sarah at the Bund – empty promenade



Shanghai Weekday Morning

Weekday Morning

Greetings from Shanghai!  I often walk to work whie getting to my office in Shanghai.  Why?  Because I get to see and experience tons of stuff on the morning streets in the city.   You get to see a whole lot more, see people buying the groceries for the day, kids decked out in school uniforms running to school, and the whole hustle and bustle of a mega city.

Since many try to get more information on the city either before coming here or before they start exploring once they arrive, I figure I will create some postings to give you a pictorial and narrative view of what you would not see on the tourist tours and organized events….

May be that will help you understand better the city, may be not – at any rate, take a look and let me know with any questions….

Yesterday was the first day of school in China – I was in Fuzhou, (Southern China) and did not catch the view of that in Shanghai, but oh, well, today is the second day of school smiley and I did take some snaps with that in mind…

China Shanghai First Day of School

And then as I walked a bit further down the road, I encountered one of the polar pictures in Shanghai – the extreme wealth and the hard labor or some to get things done…. First, on the street next to a pile of ordinary rental and regular bicycles was parked a Rolls-Royce and a few minuted earlier I took a snap of this old guy transporting bamboo scafolding on his old bicycle…. Quite something, right…?

Shanghai, Rolls-Royce 


   China, Shanghai, Bike Transport

Next time, on my walk to the office and home, I will make sure to capture some of the street corner sidewalk markets – there were hardly any today – wonder if everyone was busy early in the morning getting the kids ready for school…

However, I did take a few snaps of the evening and sunset above Suzhou Creek in Zhabei district as I was crossing into Jing'An area.

China, Shanghai, Sunset

You can take a look at some earlier postings on daily life in Shanghai – take a look here and some other here