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How To Rock A 12-Hour Layover In Shanghai

...And Other Adventures on a 5-Day Journey from Saskatoon to Sumbawa

12 hour layover in Shanghai with travel author John Early The bund

...aaaand I'm in China??

During my wild journey and series of layovers from Canada to Indonesia (only a cheeky 5 day adventure with 4 flights, two trains and a ferry), I find myself with 12 hours in the Shanghai airport. So, naturally I spark up a conversation in the immigration line, find an awesome layover friend, Ali, who's also keen to escape the bland monotony of international airports and BOOM, we're experiencing the modern metropolis of Shanghai. Good things to know:

*Shanghai has a free 'in transit' 72-hour Visa for travellers on arrival at the airport

*Make sure to stand in line (far right side of large international customs hall) for the 'In Transit Visa' - often confused with those thinking it's to connect to their next flight

*Don't bother with any of the private 'Layover Tours' that cost up to $400 USD or private taxi's (my 12-hour day in Shanghai cost about $50-60 in transit, food, temple entrances and souvenirs)

You Are Here - John Early in Shanghai

...I sure am!

Downtown Shanghai street rainy bullet train

Downtown Shanghai, only 8 minutes from the airport when taking the bullet train (approx $8 USD) that rips over 300km/h! An easy escape from a long airport layover.

public transportation Shanghai subway

See ya later 'personal space bubble'...

A ShangHaiku:

Streets of Old Shanghai Colourful modern escape Under high rise rain

John and Ali in Shanghai Bamboo Garden

The incredible benefit of not being afraid to ask - or talk to strangers. Meet Ali. I met her in the immigration line and found out we both had a 12 hour layover...might as well tag team an adventure in China right??

Enjoying the old Shanghai streets near Yuyuan Gardens

(even if all the other tourists were as well!)

strange signs in Shanghai china

Hmm, Old City Temple Snack Plaza next to the 'Mommy House' eh?

chickens feet foot buffet in Shanghai china

Hmm...a chicken's foot buffet eh?

traditional green tea roasting by hand Shanghai

Traditional green tea roasting by hand


We're halfway there! Moving on to Indonesia:

***Saskatoon > Vancouver > Shanghai > Bali > Lombok > Sumbawa***

locals versus tourists in Bali Indonesia airport

My last time I was in Bali (2012) they were just renovating the Denpasar airport to be able to receive 4-5 times their annual passengers. But it's clear the ratio of people flying internationally into Bali - or able to afford to fly I should say - is more like 500 to 1, tourists to locals when arriving in 2018. Hmm, culture being commodified for us tourists ...or a welcomed benefit for local economy, families and businesses? The never ending debate of the effects of tourism continues.

Bali architecture structure in kuta bali balinese building

English books for the local kids in Indonesia

After a journey across Bali and Lombok (Hour 65) I finally made it to the local ferry terminal to get to Sumbawa. It was closed. Oof. I was exhausted. But the local kids there perked me up and we taught each other how to count to ten in both English and Indonesian. Big thank you to my sister for giving me some English kids books to gift! It's the best thing you can bring to a third world country as they're often impossible to find.

smiling locals -even after an earthquake - in Indonesia

All the locals rallied to help me find a place to crash as the ferry wasn't operating until the next day. I jumped on a guys motorbike with all my things and he took me to a local homestay where lots of other families were staying in tents, misplaced by the recent earthquake tragedy. Strangely everyone was as happy as could be (maybe because they had a new appreciation for life and having their families after such an experience?).

local bathroom stall in Indonesia

In the meantime, I had to refresh my experience of an asian squatter toilet....I love the Asian bum gun, but still have no idea how they use only a bucket (and no TP) to sort themselves in there and not soak themselves completely.

Momentom Collective Family in the Artist Residency in Sumbawa Indonesia Whales and Waves

Needless to say I've made it to our incredible space on Sumbawa for our Momentom Collective Residency and conscious community based on circus and yogic values. And the journey was WORTH IT. Stay tuned for more updates from Indonesia or check out more on Instagram @johntearly HERE.

Let's never take travel - or the extended journey it takes us on - for granted :) Much love from Sumbawa -John

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