09.07.2015 - 11.07.2015
The sleep on the train was actually quite a good one, I slept from about eleven til 6 waking up just a couple of times. I think the rocking motion of the train lulled us all to sleep and the bed was hard but comfortable, the only complaint was that it got quite stuffy at one point in the night but other than that it was fine. The train didn't get into Shanghai station until eleven so it was nice to be able to just chill and not have to rush to get ready and go out so we just lazed about all morning til it was time to get off. We lugged out stuff off the train - including the eleven cans of lager that hadn't been drunk - thinking back I ought to have just left them on the train. On through security and to the taxi rank, we got into the taxi in threes and our taxi man was a bit scary swerving in and out of lanes and doing u turns in the middle of the road, we did wonder if we'd get to the hotel in one piece, we did and it turns out the others all had similar experiences!! Taxi drivers in Shanghai are all a bit mad!
It was about 12.30 by this time and even though we all wanted to head out to explore we also all needed a shower after the train so we all checked into the hotel and found our rooms, me and Elin are sharing for the entire trip so headed to our room - erm the bathroom ie shower and toilet are in a glass box in the corner of the bedroom, ok the glass is partially frosted but still absolutely no privacy!! I decided to go for a wander in the hotel to let Elin get a shower in private and she did the same - It turns out there is a curtain that can be pulled round the glass box but still!! think it'll be getting a mention to Gadventures in the evaluation at the end!! There was also a note from the hotel telling us that we may get cards pushed through the door advertising call girls but to ignore them - nice place we're in!!
Anyway, once we were ready we all headed to the hotel foyer to head out for lunch and then on an orientation of the city. We called at a restaurant which is supposedly one of the oldest in shanghai, we were in a private dining room which was all wooden panelled and olde looking and the table was set very nicely, Jackie ordered for the others alsorts of meaty / fishy stuff and She ordered me a tofu and black fungus clay pot stew - it arrived and I had a poke about as usual and spotted it had chicken in it along with the tofu and fungus so it got sent back and I had to wait for a new one to be made!! When it did come correctly it was very tasty.
After we'd eaten, we headed out to have a bit of an explore of the city, we walked through the peoples park where apparently parents take photos of their kids and try and fix them up on blind dates with potential suitors - it had started raining so we didn't spot anybody.
We went to shanghai Museum which was a good one and had a huge exhibition about money as well as jade and beautiful Chinese pottery and porcelain. We had an hour to kill before we headed to a theatre so Jackie dropped us off at a shopping complex, some of the others headed for pizza so headed to Pizza Hut, I was still quite full from lunch so headed to Starbucks and had a fruit salad and a caramel macchiato - hmmmm! Once we all met up again we headed to a theatre which was shaped a bit like a mini Epcot centre calling for ice cream on the way - rum and raisin with the most alcoholic raisins I've ever tasted!! We took our seats and from the minute the show started to the very end we were mesmerised! It was a Chinese Acrobat show and was fantastic - there were girls riding on bikes, jumping from one bike to the next ending with six of them in a pyramid formation riding the same bike, to men doing somersaults through hoops to amazing gymnasts, a man doing football skills with a very heavy looking vase, eight motorbikes all riding inside a sphere...... as well as loads of other stuff!, it was a fantastic show. Afterwards we got some more mad taxis to take us back to the hotel. We got back to our room to find cards advertising call girls - nice!!
Before meeting the others at 9am, me and Elin went to find some breaky, there were loads of little street food places near our hotel- I had no idea what most of it was so I headed to a coffee shop called Zoo and ordered cheesy garlic bread and coffee. The cheesy garlic bread was half an uncut loaf smothered in garlic and cheese - delicious but way too much - no idea how Chinese people are so small with the size of the portions out here! The coffee wasn't good and got binned. One thing I noticed is that shanghai is much more expensive than Beijing!
We all walked onto the Bund which is the promenade on this side of the river. When we walked over a bridge we saw the most amazing view that we'd not seen yesterday because of the mist, the shanghai skyline is pretty spectacular. We walked along the promenade taking photos and spotted lots of British style buildings - it turns our that it was historically taken over by the British and Chinese people weren't allowed to live there or even visit that part of time - it does make me embarrassed to be British sometimes when I hear about what we did in the past as we tried to conquer the world!!
We continued walking to the old section of the city called the yuyan area and old Shanghai street which was lovely but very crowded with tourists and people trying to sell selfie sticks!! We went in some really nice gardens in the middle of the city which were ever so pretty and peaceful considering how hectic it was outside, it was funny also that a couple thrust their kid at me and asked if they could take my photo with him - ha ha, my turn to feel like a celeb! afterwards we met up again and went to the French concession - the bit the French occupied in the past (they were worse than the British and they burnt down lots of temples) and had cocktails In a bar we found, we only planned to have two but when we ordered the second one it turned out to be happy hour so it'd have been rude to have missed our free drink - I had a lychee mojito and two passion fruit ones - hmmm!
The others were going to an art gallery of van gough artwork - not the real stuff but copies done in really contemporary ways (ie printed on illuminated Perspex and giant versions of his pictures), I wasn't that bothered so made a plan to find a real veggie restaurant to have my lunch / early dinner. I had looked on trip advisor and found one not a million miles away from where we'd been so I said see ya to the others and set off walking...... And ended up at a building site, looked like the place I was looking for and several blocks surrounding it had been flattened. There was another one in between where I was and our hotel so I set off to find that one, the map took me to a huge block of buildings which were all lace and button shops, I walked round the block and up some of the alleyways but didn't find the ruddy thing, I tried asking at a hotel but no one could speak English and the concierge pointed to the hotel meaning I should look for it on my phone - that didn't help me ha ha! I eventually gave up and sulkily set off walking back to the hotel cursing myself for being veggie and for not speaking the language and cursing China for having stupid writing I didn't understand and huge blocks of buildings that I couldn't fathom my way round and cursing trip advisor for giving duff map coordinates! I was starving but didn't understand any of the menus of the places I passed although I did pass a woman with a shaved Dulux dog (well it was shaved other than it's head so it looked like a grey and white lion) and then a man pushing a bicycle wearing pink animal print pyjamas so I has a good giggle even though I was starving. I also seemed to be more noticeable on my own - lots of people stopped and stared which they don't seem to do when we're in a group. I had walked miles in my trusty flip flops and then spotted a Costa coffee so popped in there just on the off chance they had something I could eat - they had a toasted cheese and mushroom sandwich, I was in heaven as I tucked into that and had a nice coffee. Feeling much better and a bit filled up I headed back to my hotel - on my way, one local man stood at the side of me at a crossing and said hello then proceeded to tell me when it was ok for me to cross and then goodbye - I think they might have been the only words he knew and he looked pretty proud of himself as he waved at me - ha ha! I finally got back to the hotel at 6.20 - I'd been walking since 9am only stopping for cocktails and my sarnie so my feet were aching a bit and I was meeting the others at 7pm to head back out for dinner!!
We did meet at 7 and eventually (after ages and quite a bit of dilly dallying!!) decided to walk back to The Bund and down towards a bar which Jakkie had recommended to us. The weather was pretty rubbish, apparently we were getting the tail end of a typhoon which has hit the Philippines or Taiwan so it was very windy and rainy but the shanghai skyline from the Bund was spectacular all lit up. Well it was all lit up apart from the pearl tower which stood pretty miserable in the middle of all the others (although really it still looked fab!). Me and Mary messed about taking photos (in the rain) while the others toddled on to the bar, the promenade seemed to be getting busier then all of a sudden the pearl tower lit up and a big "ooh" went up - it was lovely but odd that it had lit up at 8.15! We took more pics then followed the others to the bar. The captains bar was ok, very dark though but there was a pretty nice little terrace where we had a good view of the skyline - oddly the pearl tower went dark again at 8.30 - it had only been lit up for fifteen minutes. We ordered tea and drinks - thankfully the menu was in English and Chinese, it wasn't a sparking menu but there was a veggie pizza so that'd do (third meal of bread and cheese in one day- Oof!!) and I had a few beers too - Tsingtao beer is pretty good but it cost equivalent of a fiver for a small bottle when we've been paying between 40p and £1 for large ones up to now! We had thought about going to one of the posh buildings with really high sky terraces but they all cost at least a tenner just to get in and then have really expensive drinks on top of that. because the weather was so crappy we decided against that, me and Mary ended up accidentally losing the others and scooting back to the hotel. We had plans for tomorrow anyhow so it wasn't a bad thing getting back to the hotel before midnight and the wind was really picking up by then.
Well today has been fun and games. I was awake at 6 - an hour before my alarm went off. Me and Mary had decided we wanted to go on a hop on hop off bus today and also head to the pearl tower, I think most people thought we were mad because we're still being battered by the typhoon and the weather was forecast to be rotten with 100% chance of rain all day. I was up and packed ready to check out and down at reception to meet Mary at 9, as I'd been getting ready Elin had decided that she was going to come with us too. I'd suggested that we went back to yesterday's Costa for breakfast but apparently there was one closer by so we headed there...... it was closed. Off we went to the one I'd been to yesterday which was close to the hop on hop off bus start point, we got wet through and blown about on our way but it was quite fun walking through all the puddles in my flip flops. I had cheese and mushroom toastie and Caramel macchiato, Elin had a bun with her sandwich and they did look delicious so I had a piece of passion fruit cake too. As we were eating i got a text from Jakkie telling us that tonight's train had been cancelled so we were now booked on an earlier train and rather than leaving the hotel at 4.30 as planned we needed to leave at 1.30, we'd have to cut our bus ride short but that was fine we could do the bus route that took us to the other side of the river and back and still go up the tower.
We went for the bus aaaaaaand the route we wanted to do wasn't running today because of the weather so we scrapped the bus idea and decided to get the metro across instead - the metro cost 30p each way so we saved ourselves nearly a tenner and the metro was super fast. We got our tickets to the tower at just after eleven thinking we'd have plenty of time to get in, up and have a look in the museum before heading back, we didn't realise until after we'd got our tickets that the queues were inside the building - it took almost an hour and half to queue up to go through security and actually get in the lift to get up to the top - oops! By the time we got to the top we had five minutes to look round before we had to come back down - it wasn't actually that bad because there wasn't much to see because of the mist - ha ha although it wasn't thick mist and we did get to see some views as the clouds quickly rolled round the tower. Getting back to the bottom took about twenty minutes and then we dashed straight to the metro which thankfully was running smoothly and a couple of trains got us just a few blocks from our hotel, we got back to our hotel with five minutes to spare.
The others had all just hung around near the hotel all morning and I'm sure they'd had a nice relaxed time but I bet they'd not had as much fun as we had - it might not have gone exactly to plan and we'd got wet through a few times but we'd dried out quick enough, we'd had a good laugh and we'd been up the tallest building in Asia (the third tallest building in the world) and mastered the subway so all in all has a pretty fab morning.
A bus came to pick us up and take us to the train station at about two o clock, we boarded the train at three thirty and set off at about four o clock. This is another overnight train taking us to Xi'an. I bagsied myself a top bunk (third level) again and climbed up to get me and my bags out of the way while everyone else got sorted, I must gave got myself quite comfortable because the next thing I knew it was eight o clock, I'd nodded off as soon as the train started moving. There wasn't much to do for the rest of the journey so I wrote and slept, thankfully only needing the loo once in the sixteen hours we were on the train - the good thing about sleeping lots and not drinking - there were no western style loos on this train just holes - yuk!!