Last Day in Shanghai
Shanghai Travel Blog› entry 5 of 22 › view all entries
Today is our last day in Shanghai, and we have to be checked out of the room by 2 o'clock, yet our 37 hour train ride to Chengdu does not depart until 9:02 pm. Since we do not care to spend a day and a half on a train ride feeling sticky from the Shanghai humidity, we resolve to spend much of the day in and around our air-conditioned hotel. We killed the time showering, packing, and watching HBO (the only English channel we have in our room). Once we were forced to check out of our room, we read books in the lobby, ate food in the hotel cafe, used the internet, ventured out for an afternoon snack, and walked down a few favorite nearby streets. At a local market we purchased 2 water bottles, 2 snickers, a pack of oreos, and a pack of shortbread cookies for a total of $3.50. We wanted a few snacks for our quickly approaching train ride, and these were the only familiar objects in the hole-in-the-wall convenient store.
We also visited the ATM in the hotel lobby to pull out some cash before leaving Shanghai. After entering my PIN number, a nosy Chinese man, who was standing behind us, poked his head right between Jason and I to see how much money we were withdrawing. When he saw the 2000 RMB (equal to about $360) he let out a big "wow," and made a goofy smile in our direction. This wasn't the first time this happened either. People are constantly looking over our shoulders at the ATM or when we pull out our wallets to gasp at the amount of money we have, which isn't much by American standards. It was clear that no one was ever attempting to steal our money, they were just always overly curious to see how much we had. It was quite odd and made us a bit uncomfortable.
We hopped into a taxi at around 6:15 and were dropped off at the train station at approximately 7 o'clock, about 2 hours before our train departed. We always like to arrive at unfamiliar locations early so that we have time to assess the situation and figure it all out, because we know we won't be able to get much help from anyone. If we feel rushed, we lose our cool, and it makes everything so much more difficult. We nervously sat in the "soft seat waiting room" with our eyes glued to the departure boards, attempting to understand the system. After several minutes of observation and study, we were able to decipher the boards and understand how to look for our train, even though there are no English words. When our train number finally pops up onto the board in red lettering, we learn that it is still departing at 9:02 and we believe it will be on ramp 13. Next, we wait patiently for the characters to turn from red to green, which we were able to deduce means that the train is ready to be boarded. When it switched to green, we headed in the direction of platform 13, where we were met by a throng of people pulling their luggage behind them.
We assumed we were in train 10, so we headed that way and found our bunks. We paid for 2 soft sleepers, which is the highest class available, although it sure didn't seem like first class. We had the two top bunks in our cabin, and we were curious to see who would be sleeping below us. A Chinese girl in her early twenties strolled into the cabin first and took the bunk below me. Soon after, an older Chinese woman entered and took the bunk below Jason. We read our books for a while, and then we fell asleep, eager to get the first night of our train journey behind us.