Arrival on 20-Oct, 09:30 local chinese time

A long time I didn’t see anything out of the plane’s windows because of clouds and fog. But shortly before touch-down, a few houses came into sight, scattered over green landscape. They didn’t actually look ‘chinese’, at least not in the way I expected it. No decorated roofs, no large portals, no nice gardens. It were simply poor farm houses, pretty much the same as in Tanzania. And here should be a modern, still growing international airport?

But the (auto?)pilot did not change course, and eventually the plane touched down successfully. There obviously was a runway. Welcome to Pudong International Airport. Large, long gangway walks, but easy to navigate, sign-posts in Chinese and English. Immigration was a bit of a pain as the queues grew pretty long, but otherwise no hassle. My visa from Frankfurt seemed to work…the first visa I saw electronically printed and sticked into the passport.

The packed luggage band also told a story about many Germans still being in the immigration queues. Obviously, I was fairly successful in finding a quick way by passing through the health ‘check’ gate (the guy simply collected the health statement introduced during times of SARS without even looking at it), which was used only by Chinese and then cross through all the hall to the last queue for immigration of foreigners. My huge suitcase (32kg!) did arrive and went with me through the green customs channel–nothing to declare. I was not sure what customs would say to the one plant layer I’ve taken with me as a reminder of Frankfurt and Simona, who agreed to take care of my other flowers without first thinking of where to place the two large ones… Thanx Simona! I will grow the plant here and hopefully find a way to bring it back in two years!

Outside customs there where hundreds of Chinese waiting to pick up somebody. Many of them carried sings with names on them. It was like walking a parade: Fairly slowly because the first time in my life I had to read all of them! On one of these signs my name was supposed to appear. Near the end of the line I found a young guy holding my name in the air. So far so good!

He looked very friendly and offered to carry my luggage, but also made clear from the very beginning that he does not speak one word of English. Expected, but still disappointing. The ride into Shanghai, 40km, hence was very silent.

In the beginning the landscape outside the airport reminded me of Holland: A region with quite a large population per square kilometer treats itself to wide six-lane roads, both directions separated by wide greens, next to the road again much green and only every now and then a small house. And then passed by the Transrapid, called “MagLev” in China, and reminded me where I was: In the country, which just needed two years to decide on, plan and build a useful track for a great train, which was originally designed and developed in a land far far away, which is not able to do the same in five times the time. The train was pretty fast, actually…

When we came closer to Shanghai the smog got even more dense. I saw exactly nothing of the supposingly impressive skyline. Right next to the still wide road came some tower blocks into view. But individually they weren’t that interesting. I only recognized a huge bridge over a river, supposingly Huangpu River. A right turn, a left turn and we stopped in front of Shanghai Central Plaza. A quick check on my printout (still no talking to the driver!) confirmed: That’s the building, in which the Accenture’s Shanghai office is.

The driver was even so nice to accompany me to the 30th floor and hand me over to Accenture’s reception. And the ladies there were simply overtaxed by my arrival and didn’t know what to do with me. Even their english, receptionists at a global consulting company, was limitted. Luckily, the project secretary just passed by, got the situation right and took care of me.

Be warned: Not knowing exactly where to go in China can turn out to become a huge problem…

Categories: Shanghai

Originally Created: 10/22/2004 05:57:38 PM

Last Edited: 10/23/2004

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