China at last

Shanghai Travel Blog

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Me + Wil eating delicious toffee coated fruit, Y5 (less than AUD$1)
Hi all,
Can't remember when I last wrote but I think it was when I was coming back to Bangkok. Can't seem to access my blog from here so can't check. In any case, I thought it was time I updated this thing!
The journey back to Bangkok was pretty uneventful, apart from we spent a lot of time in the disco carriage on the sleeper train which was hilarious - the ladies serving drinks always demanded that you give them some of your beer! The same day we arrived in Bangkok I spent most of the day at the Chatuchak Weekend Market (again) where I bought SO much stuff. It's quite ridiculous really but it's so much fun to bargain once you get the hang of it. Good preparation for China anyway! There was an awful aspect to the market too, and the barking and whining first signalled that I was nearing the pets section.
Mich and I on the Bund. Behind us you can see the TV tower, Jinmao Tower where Belle (her Mum) works, and to the far right Belle's apartment building where I stayed
..it was absolutely horrible. These puppies, some ST BERNARDS (!) were kept in cages so that they were forced to lie down as they couldn't stand up. It was so disturbing. I was surrounded by children laughing and playing and I was walking as fast as I could trying not to cry, wishing I could take them all home...
On my last night in Bangkok I stayed in a twin room, where Poul had stayed on his last night, for just $6 which was really good. It was nice to have one bed to sleep in and one bed to organise my stuff on, and it was really close to Khao San Road but not close enough to be too noisy, which was perfect. I booked a minibus for 4am and after spending one last evening with my roommate Irish Victoria, went to bed, my alarm set for 3:15am, safe in the knowledge that the hostel staff had informed me that they would wake me should I not arrive at the specified time.
Mich and I clowning around inside the Yanlord Gardens complex

WELL! For some reason, during the night I woke up. I wasn't overly worried until I looked at my watch and realised with a very sickening feeling that it said 4:23am!!! I got dressed (as fast as I could, but my hands were shaking so much) and raced downstairs where two men told me in Thai that they had tried knocking on room C3 but to no avail....I was in C13 and I had seen the booking woman write down the right number...I was a little pissed off but anxiety was overtaking every other emotion, so I ran out onto the street (with what I later discovered was 33kg of luggage, I have no idea how I carried it!) and up and down until I found a taxi that would take me for 300B (minibus which I had unfortunately prepaid for was only 90B...). Anyway, the taxi driver was fab.
One of the many hilarious signs I saw around China
For a journey that was supposed to take 1hr he took 25min and he ended up getting there before the check-in for my flight had even opened! I don't think he took his foot off the accelerator the whole time! Crisis averted...
I flew to Singapore on an AirAsia flight which was uneventful (left 1hr late which was rather ironic...could have taken the next minibus!), then spent 6hrs in Changi Airport which passed surprisingly quickly before catching my flight to Shanghai with Singapore Airlines. Arrived at 10pm on time into the freezing weather (typical me was wearing a skirt!) and was very happy to see Mich and her Dad waiting for me in the arrivals hall. It was strange to see a familiar face after 5 weeks, but the people who had started off as strangers to me had definitely turned into good friends by the end.
The Bund by night
Mich's Mum Belle's driver Derek then drove us in his very nice car to Belle's apartment which was overlooking the Huangpu River to the Bund. It was a lovely apartment.
The next day (Tuesday) we went to Xiangyang 'fake' market which was stuffed full of Louis Vuitton and other brands. After 5 weeks of cheapness however it was hard to find anything I wanted though I did buy the entire Sex and the City DVD set and some other DVDs which I was very happy about! We also had a look around the apartment complex in the afternoon which included a 9-hole golf course, 2 swimming pools, basketball courts, badminton courts, numerous fountains (with ice floating on top!) and playgrounds, a masseuse, a post office, tennis courts, beauty parlour, and travel agent among other things.
The old street filled with Mao paraphenalia and antiques

On Wednesday I did a lot of shopping. We caught the ferry across to the old part of Shanghai where I got some really good bargains including a coat for Y59, or approximately AUD$10. The evidence of Mao's cultural revolution is still very pervasive there and they have a lot of old relics for sale, including old badges etc. I bought the English/Chinese version of Mao's Little Red Book which seemed quite interesting. The people that live along the main street don't even have plumbing so must use public toilets and showers. It's all very antiquated. It's also really nice to breath in the crisp cold air for a change and not constantly breath in humid stuffy air; a welcome change from the Bangkok heat. I also called Em for her birthday that night and it was really good to talk to her - strange to be calling Sweden from China!
On Thursday Mich and I began our quest to buy tickets to Beijing. This involved walking around in the pouring rain for hours trying to find out where to queue up for the right tickets. The hotel that Lonely Planet suggested to buy tickets from was closed for renovations! Anyway, we finally got the tickets for tomorrow night (Sunday), 14hrs it will take. I'm actually looking forward to some more freedom as I'm not used to having my actions all planned out. On Thursday night we watched 'The Notebook' and I loved it but actually sobbed at the end...god I'm a sucker for a romance!
On Friday I bought yet another coat from a market, this time a pink one. Altogether I have got 3 coats for AUD$70 which is really good. The coats here are much nicer than the ones that are on sale in Melbourne, and there's so much more variety as it's so much colder! I also bought a pair of long black boots which I was very excited about as I've been looking for a pair for ages. In the evening we went out for dinner with Belle's boss to Malone's American Cafe where I had the best burger I've ever had in my life. It was so so good, cajun chicken.
Today was rather uneventful. I slept in till 12pm, rose briefly for lunch, watched a Disney movie with Mich and her younger brother Will, then went back to bed where I read a book till 5pm. Then I got all dressed up again for the second night in a row (it's weird to wear skirts and makeup...feels foreign now after so many weeks not doing so) ready to go out to dinner and then onto the afterparty for IBM Shanghai's Annual Dinner (or something like that) at a Shanghai nightclub. I was really looking forward to that. Well, dinner was gross. It consisted of bones in broth (I shudder to think of it) and the general consensus was that it really wasn't nice! Poor Mich and Will both felt sick afterwards. Anyway, we waited till 10pm for a phonecall from Belle to say the cocktail part of the evening was over and that we could join her at the nightclub. Once that call came, we headed outside to catch a cab (in the rain) but it was IMPOSSIBLE! Also, the driver Derek had a flat tyre so couldn't take us. We just ended up walking home in the rain, very dejected...how disappointing for us all.
So now it is Sunday morning, 12:44am. Tonight I head to Beijing, China's capital, to revel in the history of this enormous nation. We plan to visit the Wild Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City amongst other sites. I'll wrote more when I can. Love you all!
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Me + Wil eating delicious toffee c…
Me + Wil eating delicious toffee …
Mich and I on the Bund. Behind us …
Mich and I on the Bund. Behind us…
Mich and I clowning around inside …
Mich and I clowning around inside…
One of the many hilarious signs I …
One of the many hilarious signs I…
The Bund by night
The Bund by night
The old street filled with Mao par…
The old street filled with Mao pa…
Shanghai
photo by: Chokk