Part 1: CEO of Tucan Travel, Matt Gannan in China

CEO of Tucan Travel, Matt Gannan, travelled to China. Here he describes his experience of China.

Day 1 – Shanghai

A bit odd perhaps choosing to visit China in winter, but choice is often not on the table and a flight via China from Sydney to London should be taken advantage of whatever the weather. Returning to the UK in freezing January means that a stopover to China can only be a bonus!

On arrival into Shanghai, I am met by a friendly local guide call Jackie (they all seem to choose a western name as no one can remember or pronounce their local names). Of course the choice of name can come from a favourite character or person, and of course, none other than Jackie Chan is my guide’s favourite Chinese man.

We got to the Paradise Hotel, whoever decided this name meant it for the inside of the hotel and not the surrounding building sites, where I enjoyed a lovely soft bed and a good night’s sleep ready for exploring the next day. On the upside, the construction around the hotel is for a metro station, and when it opens later this year, it will provide great access to all areas of the city along with all the shops and trappings that a metro station will provide.

Day 2 – Shanghai

No visit to Shanghai is complete without a visit to the Pearl Tower which towers over the city. With spectacular 360 degree views, I am able to make out most of the highrises through the mist and great views of the river. There is also an outside section with a glass floor, scary for some, but provides great views under your feet from some 260 metres above the city.

China, Shanghai, Pearl Tower, Matt Gannan on glass floor

One thing seems to dominate all others at tourist sites, even more so than Europe, and that is the tourist shops everywhere selling all sorts of trinkets, souvenirs and what some (including me) call tack! All sites seem very quiet with most patrons being large groups on Chinese tourists exploring their country or city.

Matt Gannan at Yu Gardens

The next stop was the Yu Gardens and known to be part of China Town, they are interesting and pleasant to wander around and enjoy, and I experience my first real scale of shopping Chinese style with hundreds or shops selling tack! All the big M and KFC seem to be everywhere. I am not really into western food when travelling to foreign countries, however I couldn’t ignore my favourite coffee shop and had to take Jackie for a Cappuccino!

Watershop Town

We had some spare time to kill but rather than back to the modern shops I suggested a local walk through the streets where we were rewarded by our first local markets selling all types of food. Ducks hanging from wires like drying clothes, along with all their live relatives dominated the first section, then there were the water born animals which included all types of live fish thrashing about in giant tupperware pots. Some of the more exotic animals were giant eels, turtles and frogs on sale. Street food also dominated with many interesting and unidentifiable dishes! Of course there were fresh vegetables and fruit everywhere, some of which I have never seen before.

Rather than risking a dodgy tummy, we went back to the tourist section and enjoyed a typical Chinese lunch of noodles and tomato soup, delicious.

Back to the airport for my flight to Guilin

About the Author: Matt is CEO of Tucan Travel. You can find him on  or read her other contributions here.


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