Trip Start Apr 07, 2007
Trip End Sep 20, 2007

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hi we are back on the air (or web) after nearly a month. Internet access in China, Mongolia and Russia not the easiest plus I didn't actually have time to type. So here we go with the update.....

Shanghai, China 24-27th June 2007.

Arrived in Shanghai ok (our last flight - movies Jindabyne (v.g.), The outrageous Bettie Paige (v.g.)) and were in the queue for a taxi to our hotel when we realised no one working there spoke english and there was no info. desk and we only had the hotel address in english. So we got talking to an Australian-Macedonian in the queue (on his 13th trip to Shanghai) and he says his hotel is on the way to ours and to share with him and his hotel concierge speaks english and he can tell the taxi driver where to go for us, so that was a pretty painless start and also a precedent for making friends there as you will see. So our hotel (The Jiulong 3*) is fine but massive of course and we are 17th floor - receptionists have very strange sense of customer service though, you know the kind where you are an encumberance to them.

However it turned out the hotel staff were the only grumpy people we met as everyone was very pleasant. Shanghai sykline is amazing if a little smoggy, but it's like something out of 'Bladerunner' and soooo cooool. The area down by the water front is called The Bund and was walkable distance (well bit of a walk really) from our hotel (we walked everywhere for about 11 hours both days!) But we met two Chinese tourists from Tsingsao who were teachers (Lei and Xia) on The Bund the 1st day and ended up spending all day sight seeing with them. The bonus for us was they took us to a chinese-only-speaking tea house for 3 hours to try 12 different teas. We knew we would love this as we had had some tea ceremonies in Macau 2 years ago and it was excellent here too, plus we got to chat and get to know them better for the 3 hours. Then we all headed to the amazing amazing AMAZING Shanghai Museum, I now know what all the fuss about Ming Vases is, fabulous. Like things that are 2000 years old are in perfect condition (not like the broken bits of crockery in normal museums), the china (crockery) section was like walking into a fancy shop. And in the pre history bit there were artefacts older than Ireland. I won't go on but we were blown away by this museum. Not far from the museum is a lovely peoples park Rennin park where we recouperated and then we brought Lei and Xia to a vege restautant we saw in the book called 'Gongelin' which was great (and saw some Spanish royalty on the way), where the tofu duck was yummy. After dinner it was dark so the lights on the main drag Nanjing Lu were 'outta sight' and when we parted ways with our new friends we hit the Bund for some hops refreshments and watched the world go by. Shanghai rocks.

Cold chips and eggs is what passes for vege brekker here. After having a bit of a shop etc. on the next day we went on a cruise on the Huangpu river up to the mouth of the yangzi river 120km round trip for about 3 hours, very interesting to see the ships and the view etc. and here we met an Irish couple who just finished their postgrads and are on a 2 month jaunt before starting work, lovely people from Goatstown and Drunchondra (Des & Leona) and being the cliches that we are we all hit a bar on The Bund on disembarking the ship, it was their 1st day so us being old hands showed them the Nanjing Lu etc. and ended up bringing them to tofu duck land of the prevous night which I think was an unusual experience for them (them not being veges) which they seemed to enjoy! Were going to go to jazz in 'The Peace Hotel' (a bit of an institution) after but sadly the hotel is closed so there was nothing for it but cocktails on the Bund. Did I say Shanghai rocks ?

Spent an hour trying to find an internet cafe on the last day (only to realise on check out there was a business centre in the hotel, d'oh) but there was none in town only a pretty massive book store (with an english section) other than that it was shopping (not that there was any clothes that would fit a giant 'no-tail', they are all bloody tiny and sightseeing in high-heels) and coffees (weirdly eateries don't have their own toilets but they all use the ones in the nearest high rise hotel or office building or public convenience) and generally embibing the place. So that evening (15:57) we got the T138 overnight train to Beijing, the station wasn't too confusing and there was a "soft waiting room" with a playerless piano (which was just spoooky). Sleeping compartment on train was lovely, had a 4 berth cabin so we shared with 2 chinese men who were fine, there was a communal tv though so the volume was a bit annoying but everyone went asleep at 10pm and woke up in Xian, so that was alwight....
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