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May 30, 2016 | The first appointments in Shanghai area

We have now completed the long haul from Beijing to Shanghai. We allowed almost 3 days for this 1200km journey. Our first stop was in Qufu. Confucius was born and died here. He was active more than 2,500 years ago. His real name was Kong. Right up to the present day, this is the family tree of the Kong family. It is thus probably the oldest documented family pedigree. Our next stop was at Xuzhou, legendary resting place of the terracotta warriors. Unfortunately we arrived too late, and we got no further than the firmly closed entrance doors. The pictures in Wikipedia were scant consolation.

On May 22, we admired the gardens of Suzhou. Created by wealthy officials over many centuries, the gardens are classic examples of Chinese garden design, incorporating natural elements of water, mountain and plants, together with elegant pavilions. The gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the peace and serenity of the Gardens of Suzhou, we finally arrive in Shanghai. The traffic is not as dense as in Beijing. We find a parking space in the city centre. We set off on foot to the Bund, on the Shanghai waterfront, and the historic heart of the city. But somehow the cities seem very much all the same. After two hours we feel we have “done” Shanghai. Our next objective is to find and craft brewery where we can spend the evening with a glass of IPA and a hamburger.

Next morning we are woken up by the noise of traffic, and we are soon en route to our southernmost goal of Ningbo. Along the way, we stay in Shaoxing. Again, a pleasant old town with numerous little canals. We take a boat, very similar to a gondola, a few metres through the old town. A restaurant is our pressing objective. We find one that has its own induction cooking equipment embedded on the table. Everyone is served a bowl of broth to make a tasty fondue. Next we select some scampi from the fish tank. These are served up live and we boldly tip them into the bubbling broth. They taste delicious. The beer has 2% alcohol...

The motorhome seems to be holding up bravely. The main battery is empty every morning, so we have to either turn on the generator or drive a few kilometres to have enough electricity to power the water pump. Finding overnight parking has posed few problems. We usually manage to find a parking place in a quiet spot, shielding us from traffic noise and ensuring we are not woken up at 6 in the morning by the roar of HGVs. We obtain our fresh water from car washes. There are two water connections, one for drinking water and one for washing. Fingers crossed, we have not had any problems so far in getting water.

Over the next three days we have 5 appointments in greater Shanghai so sightseeing is definitely off the menu. Well, that’s what we thought. Stephan Greif, plant manager at Demag China, had other ideas. Ushering us into a car, we were driven to the brand new harbour Museum of Beilun, the world’s 4th largest port. As a comparison, Hamburg stands at number 12 in the rankings. Sadly we do not get very far as our Chinese driver goes over some metal and punctures the tyre. Help is at hand with a replacement car and we make it to the museum. Back at the factory premises, we manage to get connected to the mains. We are delighted to be able to charge up the fridge and all the other appliances. But the Chinese have set up a bit of a poser for us Europeans. How do you get the plug in the socket? It seems like it will fit, but it doesn’t. We are in a machine shop, and three technicians quickly appear and they too stand there, scratching their heads. Finally, the solution appears: we have a 16 amp plug and a 10A plug for the appliances. The 16A plug is slightly larger... so a 10A plug is obtained the cable screwed in and everything is charged up.

In the evening we meet up with all 7 Germans living in Beilun for a beer with Klaus, who runs a Chinese pub in the town.