Shanghai - 12th to 14th December 2007
Shanghai Travel Blog› entry 7 of 8 › view all entries
The 'Bullet' train to Shanghai was not exactly the speed of the Japanese bullet train but it was still only an hour and twenty minutes and it did run perfectly to time. The journey was eventful only for the literally hundreds of thousands of new flats built in identical 'Disney' style. One or two blocks in that style would have been enough but surely there's room for a little imagination in homebuilding. Having marvelled at the total chaos of traffic flows everywhere we've been in China and not quite understanding how we hadn't seen any crashes so far, we saw two people knocked off their motorbikes wihin an hour of being here. The suprising thing is that we haven't seen more. As a general guide there a few traffic rules that must be obeyed in China.
1. The only defect of a vehicle that requires it being taken off the road is if the horn doesn't work.
2. Expect traffic to come at you from all sides
3. You may drive on whichever side of the road you feel comfortable with and if you're not happy with the road you may co-opt the pavement
4. It's okay to hit someone if you are either yelling at them or honking at them to get out of the way
5. Lights are optional even at night and on the darkest unlit roads
6. Traffic lights only exist to tell pedestrians that they can run the gaunlet of you driving at them through the red light and possibly from the wrong direction.
Walking out of the train tube station we looked up only to see the familiar blue and red logo of Tesco's Supermarket. Good old globalisation. Being born in Tesco's home town of Cheshunt in Hertfordshire Adam resolved to come back once we'd settled in.
We stayed at the Koala Hostel. We paid a bit more for our room than we had been but it was worth it. The room was huge and we had our own kitchen too. Better still you could hire a computer for the room at just Y20 per day. Finally we thought a chance to catch up with uploading our precious photos. Not quite that simple unfortunately, the speed was still rubbish and kept crashing on us. Oh well at least the blogs are up to date.
We headed out for our Tesco visit feeling slightly guilty at being sucked into a store from home but just seeing such a familiar part of everyday life at home after such a long time it was impossible to resist. Once inside we needn't have felt guilty at all. It was such a strange experience to see how the Tesco brand was applied to the local market. Not a single canned good in the whole store. The vast majority of products were totally fresh. In fact most of the fish were so fresh they were still swimming in tanks. A bit off putting to two non meat eaters. Apart from the branding the store had very little in common with its UK counterparts and that is the acceptable face of globalisation in our book.
First stop in Shanghai was the Oriental Pearl Tower. A huge tripod of a building with three spheres one above the other (see photo in due course). We decided that we'd go up to the second sphere which was a good decision as you really couldn't see that much as we can't seem to get rid of this fog/pollution. Looking across what we could see of Shanghai, we were amazed at how much is brand new and even more amazed at how much is under construction. There are some seriously good looking buildings here.
Down from the observation sphere we decided to take a trip through the Bund Tourist Sightseeing Tunnel. Now, epileptics out there be warned, this tunnel is not your average tunnel. You travel in a small pod which only hold about a dozen or so people (we were lucky enough to have one to ourselves) and as you travel from one side of the river to the other you are treated to the most psychedlic light show you can possibly imagine. Its very kitsch and totally superb, anyone who says otherwise has no joy in their life.
Once on the other side we strolled along the bund for a bit which is a bit strange seeing all the western style buildings which have most been taken over by Chinese banks, or so it seems. We then cut back up to Nanjing Road and enjoyed beeing hassled by the desperate hawkers trying to sell the "copywatchshoesladybagstshirtsDVDyoucomelookylookyshopping" whatever that is. Best bet to throw them off their stride is, as soon as they come bowling over to you, recite their mantra back at them and they get so confused they walk off in a huff. Job done, lovely. Oh and we had our first "hashish, hashish" walk by today too. How dumb would you have to be to buy drugs from someone doing that?
We ate lunch at the most amazing restaurant called Vegetarian Lifestyle, after all the lean times in Japan and Beijing we seem to have hit paydirt the few days. We stuffed ourselves as much as we could but our stomachs seem to have reduced capacity which is most disappointing.
Another must see sight is the Yuyaun Gardens and the surrounding craft streets, they are full of Chinese arts and craft shops and make the perfect one stop area for souvenirs and tourist rubbish. We didn't end up buying that much but got a couple of bits we wanted with the haggling skills we've picked up. We also stumbled on an area of maybe three streets that were totally turned over to selling decorations for xmas and the Chinese new year which comes up in January. It was awesome.
Our second day was mostly given over to doing our chores but we did find time to visit the Jade Buddha Temple. Actually we didn't quite visit the temple as we are very aware that we will be visiting dozens of temples over the next few months and don't want to get bored with them too soon. Our main purpose of seeking this place out was yet another awesome vegetarian restaurant. You've really got to love the non meat eating buddhists. Good work fellas. Christians and others take note (no fatwas please).
One excellent piece of work today was a visit to the very helpful people at China Post. We sent home a huge box of goodies which weighed nearly 7kg. The total gentlemen who helped us pack and process all the paperwork was very helpful indeed. All for only Y230 (GBP15.00) too.