I could get used to...

Shanghai Travel Blog

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...flights that are only half full.  I had no one else sharing my row! I was able to loll across the seats on three pillows to watch the silly film about a pirate radio ship. and then curl up to try to snooze.  
Disappointingly, on arrival in Shanghai, the men in white anti contamination suits didn't come on board and zap us with their temperature guns. The captain said they would, but they were a no show. As we walked through the plane door, there was a camera thing checking us though, and then we had to go through health and quarantine screening. Fortunately I passed - but I had to tell them where I was going to be  for the next seven days.
Tha scams started within minutes of landing. As I was walking towards the Maglev train, an official looking man with a clipboard stopped me and asked if I was heading for the train. I said yes, and he said that the train wasn't working, and pointed me in the direction of a bus. At first I was just disappointed. but then my travelling head said "hmmm" so I ignored him and carried on walking. Sure enough, it was working fine.
The train 'only' got to 301 kmph. I must admit I wished it had got a bit closer to its maximum of around 450.
Then I got an 'official' (but not paid in advance)  taxi from the station. I checked the price on a chart and it should be about 40RMB to my hostel. I realised part way throught the journey that the meter reading was covered by a ticket. Sure enough, arriving at the hotel, he took the ticket away - and the 'meter' said 346RMB! I said it was wrong, he said it was right. I said he was cheating me and I was going to phone the number to report him. After some arguing, he asked for 60, I said 50 or I'd report him...and he wasn't getting it until he got my bag out of the boot. I didn't want him driving off with it. Anyway - I gave him 50, and told him he was a cheat and a disgrace to Shanghai (he'd been telling me how proud he is of the city, on the journey). He must have been a bit rattled 'cos he drove off with his boot wide open, and with people on the pavement shouting at him!

I checked in at my hostel, then went in search of a mobile phone shop to by a Chinese phone and sim card, so I can make calls to the friends in other parts of China who've offered to be intermediaries and keep in touch with the family when I'm in Xinjiang. It looks like the govt will keep the total block on the internet and international phone calls in the province for at least a couple of months yet. At least this way I can call the friends to let them know how I'm doing, and they can pass the messages home for me. Unfortunately this blog will have a 12-14 day hiatus while I'm there, and I'll have to write that bit of the trip up in retrospect when I get to a different province.

Task achieved, I had a bit of lunch and set off to the Jin Mao tower...until recently the tallest building in the world. It's now been overtaken by its next door neighbour now though. The lift shot up at 9m per second. Several ear pops later, we walked out of the lift to the most amazing view. Really, really good.

Walking back I was looking at all the skyscrapers being built near it (Expo 2010 is being held here next year). Amazingly, one is being built like a series of layers of Greek columns. Very strange. I also had to get my head round crossing roads in China again. I was trying to work out the logistics of taking a photo of a crossing with the green man light on, and loads of traffic totally ignoring it. It seemed a bit of a dangerous thing to try though.

In the evening I met a friend, Jon, who's been living and working in China for five and a half years. I last saw him in a pub (well, a series of pubs) in Birmingham - yet it seemed, oddly, perfectly normal to be having a beer with him in Shanghai! After a drink, his girlfriend, who is Chinese, joined us to go for a meal. She took over the ordering for us, which was really good, as she knew what she was doing, and was asking the waiter lots of things about the food. Jon and I asked what was in the little rolls filled with chopped meat, on the pictorial menu. She said (we thought) "duck" so we each thought we'd add one to the order she'd made. When they came, we discovered we'd misheard her - and that the meat was not 'duck' but 'donkey'! It was actually delicious - quite sweet. It was a lovely evening - lots of fun, and a really nice way to start my trip.


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photo by: spocklogic