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Published: November 12th 2010
Allow me to apologise that three weeks have passed since my arrival in Taizhou, in which time I have been so busy adjusting to life here, settling in and working that I have found no time to write. I shall endeavour, henceforth, to keep you more regularly informed of my adventures and, indeed, may need to write two or three blogs in quick succession just to get you up to date - there is far too much to write in one sitting! 😊
I suppose the best place to start is at the beginning, with my arrival in China, though beyond this I cannot promise that this account will flow in a strictly chronological order - instead it will cover different aspects of my observations and adventures as they seem to hang together best. I left Macau early in the morning of Monday, 18th October, in a particularly unceremonious manner. Seb and Steve had both been occupied away from home on the preceding night, so I awoke alone, dressed, packed my last few belongings and hauled my heavy load out of the apartment, without so much as a word of goodbye.
As I pulled the door closed behind me
and heard the lock click into place, a strange sensation of solitude washed over me. There was no way back inside the room where I would be surrounded by familiar objects and assured that my friends would soon return. I was to make own way from here on in, with no one but myself to rely on. Far from being the daunting realisation I may have expected, I was elated by the thought. 'It's all up to me now, whatever the future is to hold for me is in my hands and dependent on me making the most of every opportunity and facing up to every challenge that is to come my way.' I relish the feeling that, for once in my life, I'm totally sure that I'm doing the right thing; I'm on the right track and am fully confident that I'm capable of making this the most amazing and rewarding experience of my life so far!
I lugged my bags down to the roadside and hailed the first taxi that passed my way, to take me to the airport. Driving through Macau showed me there is more to the island than I had anticipated, with hillsides rising
up around me and many an interesting side street or spectacular vista speeding past my window. I would certainly like to return one day and explore further, perhaps spending a little time in Hong Kong too. If for no other reason, I ardently desire to return to Macau to do the world's second highest bungee jump from the Macau Tower! For now though, my story must leave Macau's shores and take to the air once more, propelling us 800miles across a small stretch of the East China Sea to Shanghai!
Shanghai is Fantastic!
I spent a mere 5 hours in there, but it has already buried itself firmly in my heart!
Flying down through the clouds the first scene that meets your eyes is the agricultural region on the outskirts of the city. There are alternating rows of perfect toy houses and the rice paddies that their occupants cultivate. The houses are all white oblongs with red, pointed roofs, just like those a child first learns to draw. They stand three or four storeys tall and in reality are most likely apartment blocks, I suppose, but since from the plane they appear the size of dolls' houses they
are perfectly picturesque. Long rows of rice paddies stretch between the rows of dolls' houses, mile after mile, rectangle after rectangle of sodden land, growing masses upon masses of rice to feed the population.
My plane touched down in Shanghai Pudong Airport at 12:55pm (local time) and in no time at all I was through passport clearance and collecting my bag, the very first one to come chugging round the conveyor belt! Things couldn't have gone more smoothly to this point. I happily strode towards the exit with my belongings and looking left and right at the sea of Chinese faces smiling hopefully at me from behind little cardboard signs displaying the names of their charges. A multitude of cards showed a still greater multitude of names, but nowhere amongst them was 'Jade Corcoran'. As I reached the end of the walkway and was ushered on by the security guard, slight misgivings began to arise in my mind. The school I was to be working for had said in an email that someone would be waiting to meet me at the airport, having purchased my onward bus ticket and ready to take me to the bus station to continue
my journey. However, such a guide was no where to be seen. I had only an email address by which I could contact my employer and no internet connection by which I could make use of this. 'Perhaps', I thought, 'I overlooked the card showing my name amid the hustle and bustle by the exit'. So I made my way back along behind the crowd, stretching and straining to see the names displayed. After half an hour and three or four such journeys, I assured myself that my name was not amongst the rapidly thinning crowd. I was just beginning to formulate a new plan of action, when a forlorn and breathless young man cam running and pushing his way through the crowd, looking anxiously around at the faces of the dispersing travellers and holding, flapping in his hand, a sign which had on it that unmistakable pattern of letters that spells my name!
My guide was introduced to me as Peter, a friend of one of the staff from my school who is conveniently studying at university in Shanghai. His English was poor and my Chinese non-existent beyond 'hello', 'thank you', 'where are the toilets?' and 'goodbye', so
conversation was a little stunted. 'Not to worry though', I thought, 'I shall soon be on my way to Taizhou'. It struck me as slightly odd when Peter asked what I wanted to do. Surely he had been briefed on his mission? 'I need to get a bus to Taizhou', I replied. At this he laughed and pulled out my bus ticket, which showed the time of my departure from Shanghai to be set for some 5 hours in the future at 18:30. 'We go down-town and eat', he proclaimed. I acquiesced as 'down-town' Shanghai was something I'd like to see and I hadn't eaten yet that day. The journey, however, was a somewhat daunting prospect as I had to carry with me my huge, heavy back pack, my hand luggage, a handbag and my laptop. This was no mean feat as every time we entered or exited a subway station to change lines, I had to remove my big bag and put it through the security scanner then get it quickly back on amid the push and shove of about 5 million people!
After an hour travelling on hot, stuffy, crowded subway trains we finally reached our destination.
I was not in the best of moods by this point, but this immediately changed as we emerged from the underground station and I stepped, for the first time, into the centre of Shanghai. The scene that met my eyes literally took my breath away! Rearing their mighty heads up into the clouds stood the tallest most spectacular pieces of architecture I have ever seen. These gargantuan buildings must have been at least a hundred storeys tall and there I stood, a tiny dot in their midst, staring, awestruck, up at them.
You cannot stand still for long in Shanghai as the streets seem to flow like rivers with traffic of all varieties, people, cars, buses, trucks and rickshaws alike perform a never-ending dance in which you are immediately swept up and carried along to your destination. We crossed a huge bridge over the widest road I've ever seen, right past the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. I managed to briefly stop and get some photo's which I'll put a link to at the end of this blog. We continued along with the flow into a gigantic shopping mall. I was quite shocked to see around me a vast multitude
of English and American stores, such as Next, Macdonalds, KFC and various designer brand clothes shops. I knew Shanghai was one of the more Westernised areas, but I wasn't quite prepared for it to look this much like home! Peter lead the way passed numerous interesting looking Chinese restaurants, straight to KFC. I was rather disappointed but didn't like to be rude - so my first meal in China was eaten at this very American restaurant.
After we had eaten, we made our way to the water front, which with the sun gently sinking behind the magnificent buildings, and a hazy mist stretching and mingling it's red rays around them, is a truly amazing sight. I left my bags under Peter's guard, who sat reading a newspaper, as I wandered up and down the bank, drinking in the sights and taking many pictures. I saw many more fabulous buildings, such as the Shanghai World Financial Tower, shaped like a huge bottle opener, and the impressive Jin Mao Tower that stands 421m high! I passed by these again on my way out of Shanghai on the bus, by which time it was dark and the whole skyline was lit beautifully
and breathtakingly up. I will definitely return one day and spend much more time in this amazing city. Now though, it came time to strap my heavy luggage on one more time and make my way back across Shanghai to the long distance bus station. This journey was uneventful and at 18:50 I pulled out of the station and began the last leg of my Journey to Taizhou.
copy and paste this link into the address bar for my pics of Shanghai: http://s1126.photobucket.com/albums/l620/Jadelette0835/Shanghai/
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