July 1, 2008
A pretty long time has lapsed since my last entry.
I did get back to Beijing, spent a few days in Qingdao on the coast where I found the youth hostels (2) not all that welcoming and traveled back again to Beijing when I learned that Ann was about to enter China. But here travel plans made it difficult for me to stay and wait for her, so back to the railway station, this time with a ticket to Shanghai. Here I found the Hiker Hostel, near the Bund and close to bus- and metro stations. It’s warm and humid, the dorm small but adequate, good showers and toilets and a pleasant ambiance.
As a first impression I would say Shanghai is a more pleasant city than Beijing, less pompous and more like European cities I like.
Today I got my Pakistan visa. I went to look for the embassy yesterday, but as sometimes happens my “going to” ended in a scouting exercise which took hours of walking and ended when I finally found the correct address long after closing time. Today I took no chances but went by taxi after finding yesterday there was
no underground station within easy walking distance of the embassy.
But it had it’s reward when the vice-consul wanted to have a look at our website which, until now, I could not access since arriving in China. He showed me the way to access it with the help of a “proxy”, a system I had heard of but didn’t know what it meant.
Since my last entry in my blog I’ve been traveling around, visited various places North and South/West of Beijing while waiting for Ann to get her visa and enter China.
Since she is going to take a long time to catch up with me, I decided to go ahead and move to Shanghai, get my Pakistan visa and an extension of my China visa. This last was not needed because my present visa allows two periods of three months, as long as I re-enter before July 27. It requires me to visit Hong Kong (which necessitates a border crossing). What a pleasure!
China doesn’t stop surprising me. The magnitude, the size of it’s machinery, the boldness of architecture and the use of expensive materials such as large ceramic tiles for flooring in many public places, tiles which
make cleaning easy, and the extensive use of stainless steel for instance both in- and out-doors is amazing. The size and number of hotels like the Marriot, Regency and many others, the number of cruising taxis, the energy and effort that’s going into building and repairing utilities is astonishing. And watching TV you get the feeling most Chinese do not realize how strong they are as an economic force. What I know of the Western world’s knowledge of China, I dare say they have no clue either.
Some heavy construction is going on on the Bund, where it’s still possible to stroll along the waterfront over some distance and watch the skyline on the other side of the river. There are quite a few European tourists here but as usual about 99% of the strollers are Chinese.
East Nanjin street which runs into the Bund is a popular shopping area with lots of neon advertising (it’s wonderful what they can do with those lights which sometimes cover the entire wall of a 20-story building) and thousands of people congregate here to watch the shops and eat something nice. Pity there is also a down side on this experience: young women
will approach you with any kind of story to get some money out of your pocket. It’s no prostitution (most of the time) but call it gentle extortion if you wish. And, to my shame I once fell for this and lost a few Yuan. File it under “romantic mistakes”.
It’s now time to decide where to go next. Hang Zhou is high on the list. It’s said to have real beautiful landscape scenery and many interesting sites to visit, also more inland and closer to places less trodden. We’ll see.
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