March, 2016
Shanghai, Beijing, Xi'an and Chengdu


JEDEC had a meeting in Shanghai in March, 2016. Helen and I thought this would be a great opportunity to tour China. On our "must see" list were the Great Wall, the Terracotta Soldiers and to see some pandas. This meant we needed to visit Beijing, Xi'an (pronounced "She Ann") and Chengdu. Of course, since the JEDEC meeting was in Shanghai, we would see the sights there.

One potential problem we had was what to do with all of our luggage while we were on tour. Since this was a business trip and Charles was responsible for the equipment needed for the meeting and we had a lot. The total amounted to two roll-aboard suitcases for JEDEC, then Helen and I each had a roll-aboard suitcase. We also had one shoulder bag and one backpack. We did not want to be lugging all of this equipment while on tour. Fortunately, the China Technology Association, CTA (formerly Consumer Electronics Association, CEA), has an office in Shanghai. The JEDEC office was able to make arrangements for me to leave the equipment with them while on tour.

Usually, the JEDEC equipment is shipped to the meeting, however, in China, they do not have a customs category for equipment arriving for a meeting and then being returned. Our freight forwarded HIGHLY recommended we bring the equipment in as personal luggage. Helen and I checked our personal roll-aboards and carried the roll-aboards with the JEDEC equipment on board the plane. This worked out quite well and all the equipment arrived in good condition.

Here was our schedule while in China:

This is a map of the places we visited in China. We started in Shanghai, which is in the South East (lower right) corner. From there, we went to Beijing, about 1,000 miles away, in the North East (upper right) corner. After Beijing, we went to Xi'an, in the center of the map. Our next stop was Chengdu, in the South West (lower left) corner. We then returned to Shanghai.

Wednesday, March 2: Arrival in Shanghai

Our non-stop flight from San Francisco to Shanghai was 11 hours. We arrived in Shanghai a little after 6 PM. By the time we cleared immigration and custioms and had our luggage, it was a little after 7 PM. We decided to take the Magnetic Levitation train, instead of the normal train. The Maglev cost about $7 per person and it takes about 10 minutes to get to downtown Shanghai. The regular train is much less, at around $1, however, it is a 30 minute trip to downtown. We were tired and wanted to get to our hotel and go to bed.

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The Maglev travels at 300 Kilometers per hour, which is about 186 MPH. We thought this was really fast, however, we found out later they are doing some maintenance on the track so they were going a bit slower. The nomal speed is 400 KPH, which is about 250 MPH.

Notice how few people were on the train. Most of the people take the cheaper train. This was nice as we could stretch out and not worry about being crowded by other people.

Thursday - Sunday, March 3 - 6: Free days in Shanghai

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Getting around Shanghai was really easy. There are 13 subway lines in the city, so all areas were easily accessible.

Points of interest:

  • Pudong International Airport is in the lower right. It is the last stop on the number 2 line (green).
  • The Fish Inn, our first and last hotel while in China, is also on the number 2 line (green) in the center of the map at the Nanjing Rd.(E) station. This is also the location of the famous Bund district.
  • The second hotel we stayed at, the Hilton, which was the one where the JEDEC meetings were held, is near the Longxi Rd station on the number 10 line (light purple) on the left side of the map.
  • The fantastic acrobatics show we attended was at the Shanghai Circus World station on the number 1 line (red) just above the the center of the map.
  • The infamous Shanghai Spinning Market, which is where all the good deals can be found on custom made clothing is located near the Nanpu Bridge station on the number 4 line (dark purple) which circles the city center. It is near the bottom right of the number 4 line.

Click on the map to get the full size. Opens in a new window.


We had a great time in Shanghai. The most memorable adventures were the acrobatics show and visting the Spinning Market. At the acrobatics show, we were able to purchase tickets for less than $20 USD. The seats were on the side, but we still had a great view. The show lasted about 2 hours and there were a large variety of acts, including 5 motorcycles going what appeared to be random directions inside a small metal ball.

The Shanghai Spinning Market is a fabric and custom clothing center. It is made up of hundreds of small stalls. Each stall specializes in just a few items, like custom jackets, various types of fabrics, items made of leather, shoes, etc. The inside is a real maze and if you find an item you like, it is best you purchase it as you may never find the stall again! We ended up having to take business cards from the various companies, however, knowing the stall number, it was still difficult find it a second time.

The prices in the spinning market were great. Helen had some custom pants made modeled after a pair she brought from the USA. She also ordered some custom shirts. Charles was able to purchase fabric for the seats in the Cozy airplane I am building. We were both very happy with our purchases.

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The Spinning Market is between the tall buildings. You can barely read the sign "South Bund Soft-Spinning Material Market".

Other sights

One of the most prominent landmarks in Shanghai, is the Pearl Tower. It is located near the Lujiazui metro station. It is located on the other side of the river from The Bund.

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The Pearl tower

Monday - Thursday, March 7 - 10: JEDEC meeting

The JEDEC meeting was a week long and was in the Hilton hotel. We got lucky and were able to get a suite for our sleeping rooms. The suite had two full baths in it. One room had a bed and the other was an office. It was much bigger than we needed and very comfortable. This was especially true as our first hotel had a room that wasn't much larger than the queen size bed.

While Charles was in meetings all day, Helen was able to go sightseeing with a group of other women that had joined their spouses for this trip. For both of us, the week went by quickly.

On Wednesday evening, the company, Montage, which is based in Shanghai, hosted a very good dinner for JEDEC members and their guests. The dinner was held at the Lady Bund, which is a restaurant at the top of a very tall building on the The Bund. The night time view from the restaurant was outstanding!

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On the left is the Pearl tower with many beautiful lights.

Note the building just to the right of center. The whole building was being used a bill board. You can see the Chinese characters written in lights on the building. The characters were continuously changing and they even had some animated graphics that would appear.

Friday, March 11: Free day in Shanghai

On Friday, we spent the day shopping. We had two items we wanted to buy. First, some friends back home wanted us to purchase some Mahong tiles. Fortunately, we sent our friends pictures of the tiles we had found. Unfortunately, it was not style they wanted. They wanted the type that had both Chinese characters and English characters on them. When we asked the vendor about that style, they said it was a Taiwanese style and was not available in China. Oh well....

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Mahjong tiles we found in Shanghai

Other places in Shanghai we saw were the Pearl Tower, The Bund and some electronic shops. The electronic shops were interesting as it was located in a multi-story warehouse that had many small companies located in booths just a few feet wide and deep.

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A small company is shown here. Note there is not much space.

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Another view of the electronic shops.

The second item we wanted to buy were DVD movies. I found an expensive shop, Angel DVDs. They had thousands of movies, however, they weren't very organized and it was hard to find a specific movie.

We also visited The Bund, which is on the river. It is a tourist area. Unfortunately, the day we were there, it was very foggy.

Saturday, March 12: Travel, by high speed train, to Beijing

On Saturday, we started on a 10-day private tour of China. The tour company we used was China Highlights. The cost of the tour was $2,480 for two people. This did NOT include any hotels as I wanted to make my own hotel reservations. This price includes all transportation costs, pickup and drop off at train stations, airports and hotels. It also included a tour guide and transportation to and from sightseeing sights.

Our journey began with a train ride from Shanghai to Beijing. The distance was around 1,000 miles and the trip took 5 hours by train. Yes, this was a high speed train! The train was very comfortable. It had restrooms on board and they even had food service. The large windows meant we had a terrific view of the scenery and the smog as we travelled through the country.

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The speed is around 188 miles per hour.

I was impressed with the size of the train. Each car could accomodate around 100 people and there were 15 to 20 cars per train. This meant a movement of 1,000 to 1,500 people per train. The trains left Shanghai every 20 minutes. WoW! That is a lot of people traveling between the two cities!

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The interior of the train was very comfortable. They had seating similar to an airplane, however there was a little more room.

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Helen relaxing and enjoying the train ride.

Sunday, March 13: Beijing; Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Hutong bicycle ricshaw tour, Temple of Heaven

Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is the complex of buildings where the Emperor lived and was the central government for China. Inside the city were hundreds of buildings as well as gardens and temples.

There were multiple courtyards and many buildings inside the Forbidden City. This one of them.

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Another view inside the Forbidden City

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Another view of the Forbidden City

Tiananmen Square

We didn't see much of the square. We quickly walked through it and that was it. I *think* it was just a "check mark" on the tour today.

Hutong Bicycle Ricshaw Tour

The tour included riding in a ricshaw through an old residential section of the city. The "homes" were actually a cluster of buildings around a courtyard. The courtyard and surrounding buildings were within a walled compound. The entrance to the walled compound was a door. Above the door were symbols which indicated the rank of the occupants. Part of the tour was to enter one of these compounds. It was interesting.

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This is the home of a lower ranking official as there are only two log ends above the door

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A little higher ranking official with four ends of logs

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An even higher official lives here as he not only has 4 end of logs showing but also "bumps" on the door

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You may have guessed this is yet a higher ranking official residence

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The interior of one of the homes

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The interior of a home

Temple of Heaven

The temple of heaven was interesting, but to me it was just another of many temples in China.

Monday, March 14: Mutianyu; Walk along the great wall and a visit to the Summer Palace

Walking along the great wall was definitely one of the highlights of the trip! We walked all the way to the end of this section, about a mile, however, it was mostly uphill. We were not sure if we could make it to the top, but we were successful in reaching our goal!

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Our tour guide for Beijing and the Great Wall. She usually does not walk with her clients on the Great Wall. I guess she thought Helen and I weren't going to go very far ;-)

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Yea! We made it to the top!!! The steps behind us go a little further up, however, it is off limits to tourists (according to the sign we are standing behind).

Summer Palace

We were pretty tired after visiting the Great Wall and it was getting late in the day, so, our visit to the Summer Palace was short and fast.

Tuesday, March 15: Beijing; Jingshan Park (Free day)

We had one free day in Beijing. We walked around the Forbidden City and then strolled through Jingshan Park which is across the street behind the Forbidden City. We ended the day by going to the Beijing Drum and Bell Tower, unfortunately, we were too late to the drum show, but we did hear it!

Jingshan Park

Looking toward the Forbidden City. Click on the picture for a larger view.

Looking toward the back of the park. Click on the picture for a larger view.

Beijing Drum and Bell Towers

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Drum Tower

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Bell Tower

Wednesday, March 16: Beijing: Morning free; afternoon travel to Xi'an by high speed train

The train ride from Beijing to Xi'an was about 5 hours. We covered 1,000 miles during that time. This was definitely a high speed train!

I was impressed by the number of abandoned apartment buildings we passed. This was true both on our trip from Shanghai to Beijing as well as the trip to Xi'an. Even though it appears I have taken pictures of a lot of them, this is only a small fraction of the number we saw. When I asked about these buildings, I was told there was a big building boom in China a few years ago. Unfortunately, it didn't last long as the number of units being built far exceeded the demand. Especially in the country-side where farmers had no desire to move out of their homes into an apartment or condominium building. These buildings were primarily built by private enterprises.

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This train was zipping along at 191 mph!

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The smog you see is what we saw every day we were in China. If it is this bad in March, imagine what it must be like in the Summer. By the way, we saw this smog every where, even when we were hundreds of miles from a major city.

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The posts you see in the foreground are not leaning. They are vertical. They are just very close the train and the train is travelling so fast, that as the image is scanned, each part of the post is in a different position in relation to the camera. It's on optical illusion.

Thursday, March 17: Xi'an: See the Terracotta Warriors

Friday, March 18: Friday, March 18: Xi'an: 1/2 day free; Afternoon fly to Chengdu

Saturday, March 19: Chengdu: Free day

Sunday, March 20: Chengdu: Go to the Panda research center

Monday, March 21: Chengdu: Morning free; Afternoon fly to Shanghai

Tuesday, March 22: Shanghai: Free day

Wednesday, March 23: Return to USA