Trip Start Apr 16, 2010
25Trip End Jul 24, 2010
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After our mammoth day at the World Expo, and our recovery spa session, Jon, Dan, Ollie and Henry slipped out of the apartment at 23:30 for an authentic full body Chinese massage. What an experience it was... We were ushered into a lowlit lobby where a kindly young Chinese woman kitted us out with wooden slippers and an Asian gown and shorts, and we settled down for our 60 minute massage. We certainly weren't used to this treatment - all elbows and knuckles - but the knots that had built up atop Taishan/Huang Shan etc. were promptly located and set to. Results were some aching but refreshed (?) bodies the following morning.
A sad sad morning, as the famous five became the fantastic four once again, as Jon left to head back to California (where we look forward to meeting him in July!) It was great having him - he had proved top value with his razor sharp wit and also showed us some great Chinese restaurants and cafes. Henry met us in the lobby after a slightly later start and we all headed for Yu Gardens, where we strolled through the archaic market streets looking for a few final killer souvenir purchases! For lunch Henry generously treated us to a Shanghai speciality - the 'juicy bun'. We eagerly tucked into a few stacks trays loaded with these wonderful dumpling-like creations - definitely a culinary highlight of China, and one which without Henry's local knowledge, we would surely have missed - cheers Henry! After lunch we found a lovely dessert place before heading to Henry's local pool club to test whether the hours of hostel pool practice had paid off. On arrival, we realised that these tables were of a different calibre and subsequently our skills did not entirely translate, but we had a fantastic time and learnt a few lessons watching the potting wizard Henry at work.
After dinner, Ollie, Tim, Henry and Stef decided to investigate the prestigious Shanghai nightlife. We duly looked up the name of a recommended jaunt in Lonely Planet and headed there in Henry's parents car. On arrival at the destination we were disappointed with a distinct lack of buzz. Henry got out to investigate the scene and returned with the fateful news that the nightclub had in fact been closed for over 2 years (much to Henry's dad's amusement!) We rerouted to "G+" and ended up having a real cracker
Henry yet again came up trumps as he wangled us free tickets into Shanghai's museum of Scince and Technology. The building itself was immense, and inside we enjoyed showings in a 4D cinema and a robot show, aswell as taking penalties against machines, and interacting with all sorts of exhibitions. We left weary but ready for yet another bargain hunt as we headed home via a silk market-esque mall to pick up some warm winter clothes in anticipation of the New Zealand chill... In the evening, we drew our time in Shanghai to a stylish end with a traditional Shanghai hot pot and some sushi dishes to die for, kindly bought for us by Henry's parents. We have been amazed and are truly thankful for Henry and his parents' hospitality! Tim, Dan and Henry later rounded off the evening with a trip to the massage parlour, leaving refreshed and rejuvenated once again.
We said our warm goodbyes to Henry before heading to the spa for a cheeky final hour's relaxation
We then took the Maglev train (300km/hour shuttle train) to the airport and were soon well on our way to New Zealand, reminiscing about our month in China.
Things we'll miss:
- The food
- The cost of living
- The kindness of local people!
- Hi-Chews, a tasty Chewit-type sweet (Dan)
- Monmilk (this wonderful yoghurt drink was a real highlight!)
Things we won't miss:
- Taxi drivers (why would they always decline us Westerners?)
- Chicken's legs/heads in our meals
- Baby's with holes in their trousers for quick toilet trips - teach them some dignity!
- Hoards of people. Everywhere!
END OF CHAPTER TWO
After little (no) sleep on our 11-hour flight, and after a heck of a lot of Gavin and Stacy/Glee on the inflight ents system, we arrived bedraggled and weary at 6am in Auckland. Thankfully, we were greeted by our new Kiwi mother, Glenda (a family friend of the Veiras) who took us back to her beautiful house overlooking a picturesque estuary in Orewa, where we'll be staying for the next 3 nights. We've already settled in, having had a fantastic cooked breakfast, sandwiches and a demon stew and having watched some World Cup highlights and spent some time getting to know Glenda.
We are already really excited about our stay in New Zealand, and so far the colder weather has been refreshing after months of humidity and sweat. Today's rainstorms have even helped us to feel right at home...
Peace and love