The West in the East

Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
kez couchsurfer

Flag of China  , Shanghai,
Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Shanghai, China - It's unusual that I consider a 30 hour train journey to be relatively short. I'd never fly for 30 hours, but on a train you get a bed, so it makes a huge difference! I arrive into Shanghai and find my way via the underground to my couchsurfing hosts' apartment.

This is where I waited for 2 hours and there was no sign of her and my itouch ran out of battery. So I lugged my belongings to a nearby ATM room, found a plug socket and waited while my itouch charged up. I walked around, found an unsecured wifi signal to find out my host bailed on me for the first night. I wasn't happy! I then had to wander around Shanghai looking for a hostel at 9pm. I find I swear more when I'm by myself, but you won't be surprised when it was aimed at motorbikes that ride the pavement. I found a hostel and emailed my host saying I was safe and were the other two nights still ok? I slurped down a pot noodle and went to bed. 

My start in Shanghai wasn't the best but it got better. The next day I walked along Nanning street from west all the way to the Bund. Shanghai is very modern and for the most part, westernised. Top of the range shops lined the streets, high profile cars dominate the roads and the majority of people are well dressed and groomed. When I walked through People's Square, three Chinese people asked me to take a picture then chatted to me for a while, it seemed pretty genuine till they mentioned I should join them for some tea. A known scam written in most travel books, I smiled, declined and bid them farewell. The next thirty minutes of walking towards the Bund, I most have been approached fifty times! It becomes very tiresome and I put my headphones on to put off some locals approaching me. I'm not too fussed about this, I'll shake my head or just ignore them, but what I can't stand is someone grabbing my arm to stop me or get my attention, I react pretty badly to this but in general, I don't like having my space invaded. I think it's also very rude. 

The Bund is a pretty cool place but it was a misty day so the views were not the best. I walked along part of the Bund, saw more newly weds having their pictures taken and looked across to the view of the financial district. You can climb one of the towers, but for ten quid, I decided not to plus I wasn't that impressed with the view of the Bund, especially while the mist hung in the air. The Bund was once the city's wall St and now has emerged as a designer retail and restaurant zone. For a traveller, the only activity one should undertake is a stroll. 

I grabbed some quick lunch and headed over to the French concession area through some local market streets. Once home to the bulk of Shanghai's adventurers, revolutionaries, gangsters, prostitutes and writers, now, it is the most graceful part of the city. The particular area I visited was Tianzifang, an area full of boutiques and wi-fi coffee shops. I enjoyed an iced coffee and soaked up the vibrant atmosphere. 

As I spent all day walking, I continued to walk back to my couchsurfers apartment and finally met her. She made a great dinner, lots of roasted vegetables and her own kind of lasagna. Her place was very confortable, stylish and the sofa was very comfy. 

Next day I decided to leave Shanghai and venture out to Zhukiajiao, thirty kilometers outside of Shanghai. An area full of Ming and Qing dynasty alleys, bridgesabd old-town architecture. I enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere and very few vendors attracted your attention. I must have walked around for a couple of hours and treated myself to a curry. It is only supposed to be an hour away but I ended up spending 4 hours on a bus in traffic, so the day was over. 


That evening, Kez, her Vietnam friend and I went for some Korean food. This would be my last full day in China and that fact excited me. I was really looking forward to South Korea and enjoying (hopefully) a cleaner atmosphere.

On visiting China, I would recommend Beijing and Hong Kong over Shanghai. I have been fascinated by this country, enjoyed wonderful company but most importantly, some of the best food I have ever tasted!!

I woke at 4am on my last morning in Shanghai to walk 30 minutes to a bus, followed by an hour in a bus to catch a short flight to Seoul, South Korea. 

Next stop, Seoul, South Korea - hoooccckkkkkk........spit!
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