China Report: Yangzhou to Shanghai

January 1, 2008 at 9:10 pm (General Information, Overseas Tour) (, , , )

Oriental Pearl TV Tower - photo: Neil G Jarman

After the tedious coach journeys experienced over the last few weeks everybody was expecting the worse this morning. The journey from Yangzhou to Shanghai was estimated to take 5 hours. Everybody was on the coach by 9.55am ahead of the 10am scheduled departure. The well established check out routine is working like clockwork now after 5 cities/hotels.

The first stop of the day was at 11.50am at Wuxi services and then surprisingly we arrived at the Lansheng hotel in Shanghai at 1.45pm – only 3 hours and 50 minutes including stop!! The roads en route were deserted and Shanghai was not as busy as usual. The check in was a bit slow as the hotel had not taken into account our request for smoking and non-smoking rooms but in the scheme of things this was a small detail and everyone was checked in by 2.15pm.

The hotel is lovely and although a change from the hotel we had originally agreed everyone was really happy and looking forward to the final four nights of the tour. The only slight issue is that the hotel is quite a distance from the City centre and also a 30 to 40 minute drive to the Grand Theatre. We have found in most cities on the tour that they are reluctant to put us in hotels that are in walking distance from the theatres which really would make life a lot easier. It was great in Beijing being in the same building. The distance from the centre did not deter most people from venturing out and discovering the local area and also catching cabs to the centre. Last heard, there was some of our company on the top of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower on their 2nd bottle of Champagne!!

Andy Waddington with Steve Wilkins and Rich Godfrey departed the hotel at 10.30pm and arrived at the theatre to unload the containers on to the side of stage as agreed. This would mean that we would gain time by laying it all out in the right places on stage and be able to attack with gusto the fit up tomorrow night. Richard Clayderman is performing tomorrow evening. On arrival we found that they did not want us to unload onto stage and insisted we unload into a dock area. We explained through Flora, our Interpreter, that this was pointless and a waste of time as it would not gain us anything for the extremely tight fit up. Unloading into the dock area and then double handling it tomorrow would mean that we would still be the unload time down. The theatre only had security guards on duty and said that they did not have the key to the one sliding door between where the trailers were and where we needed to put the set. A stand off followed and Young, our Promoter was summoned and came down to the theatre very apologetically and confirmed that this was not what had been agreed. He then phoned the theatre management and local promoter. The local promoter arrived and we again explained that by unloading tonight into the dock area would not help in the fit up and we were not unloading unless it was onto stage. A discussion then took place in Chinese and the outcome was we caught a cab back to the Hotel. This whole discussion took over 2 hours in the freezing cold. The outcome is that we are now getting in at 11pm tomorrow night and unloading straight onto stage. This will then mean our Technical Teams working straight through the night until the end of the performance on 3rd which is far from satisfactory. They have an additional problem in that the container haulage contract finishes tonight but that one is not our problem to resolve. (Our own contractors are responsible for taking the containers out of the theatre and back to the UK)

So what should have been a very simple process became much more of as issue as is so often the case working in China. With the experiences we have had working with the various theatre crews across China we are somewhat nervous about how the fit up will go and we have made it very clear to Young that the show will only happen on time if the crew work our way and allow things to run smoothly. Only time will tell on that one

In the foyer of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower - photo: Neil G Jarman

Motorway service food Chinese style - photo: Andy Waddington

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