Mantovani 2009 China Tour!
Jan 11th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

I know this is “old news” for now, but some of my friends and fans have asked me to write about my experiences on the tour, post some photos, etc. So, in the tradition of much earlier writers, here starts the serialized story of the tour as experienced by yours truly.

Disclaimer: the opinions and views expressed in this series are my own, and in no way are to be construed as “official” Mantovani content.

I took this photo at Pudong Airport around 2AM Shanghai, China Time, after about 28 hours of air travel, after two days with 6 hours of sleep. We flew from Orlando, then changed planes for the trans-Pacific flight in San Francisco.

After making it through customs and immigration, having my passport checked and all of that hoo-ha, I was finally IN CHINA, at least outside the quarantine area of the airport. Wallking inside the nearly deserted domestic terminal had a certain surreal quality to it – acres of polished terrazzo floors, a very strange ceiling with what appeared to be spikes sticking through it, a walk way stretching to what seemed like infinity.

Mantovani 2009 China Tour – Beijing Traffic Cop
Jan 11th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

One of the cool things for me about traveling to a foreign country, whether it’s business, pleasure, or in this case, pleasurable business, is savoring the differences from home.

In this photo a Beijing traffic cop keeps an eye on things, doing his best to maintain order in a place with traffic jams that actually make traffic in the Washington, DC area where I live seem light. Traffic was so heavy and so unpredictable, that the orchestra usually left our hotel around 4PM so we were assured of arriving at the theaters somewhere between one to two hours later. Better to get there with an hour to kill than to race in just as the curtain was about to arrive, the audience in place.

Coming Next: 7 concerts, 5 cities, 9 days

Mantovani 2009 China Tour: The Itinerary
Jan 11th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

China Itinerary

One thing to remember about an orchestra tour is the sheer amount of actual travel involved, particularly in a BIG country like China. Despite the best efforts of our in country tour hosts and promoters, the Zhang Brothers, Mag Jian and Jiao, and Jiajia Shu Fong (AKA “Beth”, herder of cats and musicians), the travel was arduous; the amount of sleep and time for sight-seeing, unfortunately, minimal. But hey, don’t pity us, we still had a heck of a good time, at least I know I did.

For the detail oriented:

  • First leg: Orlando to Guangzho via Shanghai
    • 6 hours of sleep in Orlando, bus trip to airport, check-in, 7AM flight to San Francisco
    • Noonish Flight from San Francisco to Pudang (Shanghai), China, go through customs and immiigration, arrive waiting area for in-country flight 2AM local time
    • Flight from Shanghai to Guangzho, arrive at hotel 3:30AM local time, some time Twilight Zone Time
  • Performances and Travel in China
    • Perform Guangzho, dinner at lovely restaurant,
      Guangzho Dinner Choices

      So Many, Many Choices...

      back to bed at midnight, up next morning by 6AM for…

    • Flight from Guangzho to Wuhan
    • Perform that night in Wuhan (yawn), luxuriate in extra sleep next morning and some time off, then up early next day for flight to Beijing
    • Perform that night in Beijing and again, the next night, up early the 2nd Beijing morning for…
    • Flight to Shanghai
    • Perform in Shanghai, next morning off, 2nd performance and late night dinner there, then up early for…
    • Road trip via bus to Huangzho, perform that last and final night, then…
  • Tour is over and flying home

Next post - Shanghai: Skyline to Subway

Mantovani 2009 China Tour – Shanghai Subway
Jan 11th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

Shanghai Skyline

Shanghai is an amazing city full of examples of the vitality of the 21st Century China. The sky is pierced for miles on end by skyscrapers tall as any in the world. Having grown up outside New York City just across that fragrant patch which we locals called “The Meadows” with a view of the Empire State Building (I grew up before the World Trade Center was erected), I felt quite at home.

I’m also a connoisseur of subways and trolleys living in the greater Washington, DC area with our “Metro”, and living through my undergraduate years in Boston with its hodge-podge of trolleys, trackless trolleys and heavy rail subway cars, but I digress.

The Shanghai subway system is a marvel. The trains are clean and fast; the fare collection system a technological marvel with electronics aiding the traveler in multiple languages. One simply, and I do mean simply, selects a destination on an interactive map, and the system then calculates the fare and asks for the money. Simple.

And in the cars there are electronic maps as well.

One thing this traveler had never seen was an “open car” design in which a tall Westerner such as this writer could see over the heads of most of the Chinese passengers clear to the front and back of the 8 car (?) train. No doors separate the cars.

But then, in my experience, there’s always something interesting, and I mean this with affection and respect, about how a technology which starts in one part of the world, in this case, the West, is adapted for use in another.

This subway sign says it all: practical, down to earth, simple – and something I never saw anywhere else. Kind ‘a goes without saying, but in China, traffic, whether pedestrian or vehicular, or the usual combination thereof, is not the orderly flow it is in Germany, or even, in Italy!

Next post: Logistics – travel with musicians, instruments, and a live goat. (just kidding about the goat…).

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