Sunday, March 16, 2008

Korean Tour Debut

It has been quite an adventure getting to the tournament site. It started with the previous post I wrote in Hong Kong and moved in and out of Shanghai. When I arrived in Shanghai just before midnight on Friday, it had been a long day running around what I thought was a massive airport in Hong Kong, but paled in comparison to what I was about to experience in the most populated city in the world. The new airport in Shanghai is called Pudong International. It is on the outskirts of the city, a little over an hour away from the center of Shanghai's bustling business and tourist center.

My hotel was a basic, clean hotel, 15 minutes away from the city center. Because Shanghai is so massive with seemingly infinite places to stay, no maps list any hotels under a 4 star rating. This made it a challenge for the taxi driver to find the accommodations. Maybe it was an act, or possibly the specific drivers I hailed, but contrary to what many of the locals say here, the taxi drivers have not known any of my destinations this week. This leads some to refuse service and some to get mad at you, the tourist, for not knowing your way!

Saturday was a day to unwind from the chaos of Friday's travel but actually led to further chaos. I traveled into the heart of the city for some sightseeing. Being a weekend, I didn’t expect travel to be too congested or difficult, but I had never been to a city with 20 million people, in a country with over 1.3 billion people! It did not seem to matter where we were, or at what time we were there; Shanghai is jam-packed, bumper to bumper, shoulder to shoulder. Walking around downtown, you use "the five 'Ds' of dodge ball -- dodge, dive, dip, duck!" You never knew you could feel claustrophobic in such a massive place.

The architecture of Shanghai is spectacular. While many of the tall buildings are built with an extremely unique, far-eastern style, the structures that lay underneath give you the feeling you are in an old, European village. Some of the smaller buildings in downtown have a European gothic look, with dark brick and large clock towers. It is the most tastefully eclectic city I have ever seen.

I managed to repay a tourist karma debt by assisting a polish businessman to make his way a few miles across town to his hotel. Apparently, the locals understood American Chinese, also dubbed 'Chinglish,' more than they could grasp Polish Chinese (I have yet to come up with an abbreviation for that language). I have pictures I will load on my site following this tournament.

The abridged version of the journey home consists of getting lost, not being able to hail a cab in downtown because it is against the law, taking the wrong subway train to the other side of town, getting a taxi lost and finally making it home after a long, roundabout route. It may have been necessary though, as I discovered China is the first Asian country I have visited that sells Gatorade...whoohoo!

Yesterday was a similar day as I took a taxi across the city into another Chinese province, where the tournament is hosted. The resort did not have an official address and we ended up in two wrong towns, each 20 minutes away from the resort. The trip took us into factory cities: endless rows of factories and warehouses outside of Shanghai. They stretched on as far as the eye could see. I assumed these are the kinds of places that produce all those items with a little tag that reads, "made in China." After the taxi’s tires made their final revolution into the resort's front entrance, the ride took about 2 hours and cost 340 Renmenbi (about $50 US).

Tomorrow and Wednesday are practice days before the start of the event on Thursday. If you go to and click on "2007 Schedules Korea Tour" in the left hand column, the 2008 schedule will pop up and you can get information on this week's event, including live scoring. My tee time is 11:30 Thursday and I play with a player from China and another from Korea. I am excited and look forward to a successful debut on the Korean Tour. The event is televised on CCTV, Chinese National TV and promises to be a great tourney. I will continue to update as the week moves ahead and am looking forward to finding the fairways and greens for the first time on this Chinese adventure.

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