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Published: August 5th 2012
29th Jul: Up early, got showered and finished packing. Headed to the airport bus. Thought I was getting there about 15 minutes early but realised I had cocked up the times, so had literally just missed one bus by not long and had to wait almost an hour for the next one, but would still have plenty of time at the airport before my flight. Got some chamchi kimbap at the Kimbap Nara or Cheonguk near the bus stop. Not bad, coz I'm a bit fussy on who makes my kimbap. Got to the airport, got checked in and all that jazz. Headed through to departures. Tried unsuccessfully to find an English language guide book on Shanghai. Only western bird on the flight. Bit bumpy and a small plane, six seats across, not a good combination for me.
Made it to Shanghai alive and hopped on the metro to find my hostel. I was thinking about taking the high speed bullet type train thing, but it cost a lot more and I still would of have to of changed to the regular metro. Took over a hour to get to my hostel as it was pretty far out of the
city centre, but dirt cheap, about 4 quid a night. Subway was really good and I'm spoilt from using the Seoul Metro so much. Did notice that parents seem to cut their young daughters' hairs extremely short here, in that you would think there are a lot of little boys running around in dresses. It is practical like because of the heat and no doubt keeps them cool, but after image conscious Korea, a bit of a shock.
Made it to the hostel, the directions were easy to follow. I think I was meant to be in a 10 bed dorm but had been upgraded to a four bed at no extra cost. Shouldn't grumble but sometimes it's nicer to be in a bigger dorm as it is easier to meet people. Bathrooms were nice and clean and modern. The dorm room was really nice too. Got the top bunk, my two roommates seem to be living in the hostel due to the amount of stuff they have. Found out this was true and they had been studying at a local university. Was wiped out after my early start so decided to have a nap.
Woke up in
the late afternoon and decided to go explore the town. I got off the metro in the centre of the city at East Nanjing station. Nanjing Road is famous in Shanghai as being the best place to shop, so I thought I would take a wander along it with the crowds and find some dinner. I decided to try and walk away from the Bund area and head west, however that was not meant to be and I ended up walking towards the Bund, due to may lack of navigational skills. So I was pleasantly surprised when I hit the Bund. The Bund is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai. It is the waterfront area in the centre of the city and centres on part of Zhongshan Road, which is within the former international settlement. It runs along the west bank of the Huangpu river facing Pudong in the eastern part of the Huangpu district. It was a really beautiful sight to see. All the tall buildings across the bund and all the classic old style buildings on this side of the river. I decided to park my backside on the steps there and watch the sunset
as it was fast approaching. The sunset was beautiful and once it was dark, I took a stroll along the Bund before heading back down Nanjing Road. I was surprised at the sheer number of western chain fast food places there were. I was starving by this point so called into Burger King and had a fish burger. Was ok, nothing to write home home about. As I continued to walk along Nanjing Road the pedestrain bit ended and it was a normal street. The shops became more high end, too. After a good walk I found the nearest subway entrance and after a cheeseburger, yeah I was still starving, headed back to the hostel. Stopped at the local Family Mart to grab a beer and sat on the front patio at the hostel to drink it.
30th Jul: Up reasonably early for me, as I wanted to go for the free breakfast that was included with my stay. It was okay, the Chinese dumplings, both veggie and meat were delicious, but the western stuff, i.e. bread was rank, it was sweet. Also you had to buy tea or coffee, which was a bit of a con. Headed back
to Nanjing Road and went straight to Costa to get a proper caffiene fix. Sat outside, drinking my ice coffee, reading my book, and people watching. A lovely lazy way to spend the morning. Then I thought I better go off and see some stuff. I decided to use the hop on hop off tourist bus, as it was cheap as chips, about 3 or 4 quid for a twenty four hour pass and took you to the major places. I decided just to sit on the bus the first time and go around the whole circuit to familiarise myself withthe route and the places that I wanted to stop off at the most and then go back to them. This was a good plan and I went round Shanghai, the bus tour took about an hour and I listened to the audio commentary about Shanghai.
I got off the bus back where I started on Nanjing Road. I was hungry so went for some lunch, which took some finding. I trawled the streets and couldn't find anything that took my fancy. There were tonnes of fast food places, which I didn't fancy as I'd had it last night
and there were loads of tourist restaurants with totally unappealing menus. However I stumbled upon this great place. It was kind of like a buffet come fast food place, but all Chinese. There was loads to choose from and I ended up getting loads. I had rice, a meat (pork) dish, and a couple of veggie dishes and a drink. The food was good and cheap, although I did end up leaving quite a bit I was happy to try some different things.
After my lunch I headed back onto the hop on hop off bus. We went along the Bund and then further into part of the city. I got off at the City God Temple, and it was not what I was expecting. The temple is housed in the old city walls and when you first walk in the main entrance top the walls, there are hundreds of shops and restaurants. There is even a KFC and Starbucks (I think) done up in traditional Chinese style. I found the entrance to the temple and went for a look around. The temple was beautiful and eventhuogh it was really busy with all the tourists, there was still a
feeling of peace and calm. After I had a wander around the shops and stalls, didn't buy anything, and then walked past the tea houses and over some bridges, where everyone was feeding the carps that swan underneath, to Yuyuan Gardens. The gardens are also housed within the city walls. The garden was first thought of in 1559 by Pan Yundaun as a comfort for his father in his old age. However construction was postponed until 1577. The garden was once the biggest and most prestigious in Shanghai. I had a lovely time wandering around the garden. It was really pretty, old school Chinese.
My next port of call was the Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower, to give it its full title. At the bottom I snapped a few photos, it's pretty impressive to stand at the bottom and look up, as this thing is huge. I went and bought my ticket, I went ofr the most expensive one, so that I could visit three different observation decks. Then the nightmare began. The queue was horrific. It was my own stupid fault, as it was a Saturday, the place was heaving with Chinese tourists on day or weekend
trips to the city. The queue was never ending, and I tink I waited about an hour and a half to two hours before I actually got up to the viewing deck. Whilst waiting two funny things happened. An old Chinese woman decided to use me as a post to rest on, she was literallly hanging off me back and no matter how many times I tried to move, she was still there stuck to me like a limpet. The other horrible thing that happen was a toddler taking a shit in the queue. I'm sure if the parents had asked the security guard he would of let them sneak out to the toilet n back, but no, the grandad got a leaflet laid it on the floor and then the child pooed on it. It was a pretty disturbing sight and I dread to think where the leaflet ended up. By the time I made it to the top, I was there just in time to watch the sunset. It was really good up the tower and you could see for miles, around Shanghai. There was only one part I didn't like and that was the observation deck with
the glass floor, it freaked me out big style. I stepped on to it was like oh on I'm gonna die! So I stood on the bit that you couldn't see through and ran as fast as I could for the exit. Big baby I know! There was also a museum in the basement, that depicted what life was like in Shanghai, back in the day. It was really interesting and I wish I could of spent longer there but the place was due to close.
Outside I wandered around for a bit, the area was really busy and vibrant. I really liked it. Then I took the subway back to the hostel, stopping off at a restaurant nearby for pork and cashew nuts, washed down with a couple of beers.
31st Jul: Had some more of those delicious bun / dumpling thingies for breakfast and then headed into the city. First stop was of course for a lovely ice coffee and to read my book for a while. Got to start the day slowly. I decided to go and visit some museums today, so that I could make use of their aircon and stay out of the
heat. I got back on the tourist bus and decided to go to the Shanghai Museum. It's a bit of a walk from the bus stop and not really clearly signposted but I managed to get there without getting lost. The museum was quite interesting, but there are only some many pots and the like I can see before getting bored.The bit with all the old money was great. Back outside I found a 7/11 to get a drink and buy a new lighter. It's annoying having to hand your lighter in at every museum you go to.
My next stop was the Shanghai Art Museum. The building is quite cool from the outside, it used to be the home of the Shanghai Race Club. It has a clock tower too. I had a look around the museum, the artwork and istallations were good. There was a big exhibition of Zhang Guolong's work. It was really good, but I couldn't get any photos of it, that did it justice. While I was waiting for the bus the sky turned very, very black. Luckily the bus came bore the heavens opened and boy did they open. It was torential rain.
Even to walk the two seconds from the bus stop to the subway, you would of got drenched, so I, long with everyone else, stayed on the bus. We did a couple of circuits of the city. Eventhough we were inside the bus we still ended up getting wet, as the water puored in from upstairs, (it was an open top bus) and it was all sloshing about on the floor. When the rain subsided I got off at People's Square and took the metro back to the hostel. Back at the hostel I went for dinner in the bar, had something very un Chinese, I think it was a baguette or burger and chips. Hada couple of beers. Hostels really seemed to have changed since I went on my round the world trip. Everybody sits on their laptops and don't communicate with the other people around them. It was so sad!
1st Aug: Up early, so I could have a productive day today. I had brekky at the hostel and then got the subway to the sports ground, as that was where the tour buses leave from. Had a long walk around the edge of the stadium to
get to the tour offices. I didn't really mind if I went to Suzhou or Zhouzhuang Water Town. Well I ended up getting on a bus Zhouzhuang.
The bus journey took about an hour and a half, nmaybe a bit less, I can't really remember now.The town was gorgeous. We went round with the tour guide at first, not that I understood a thing she said as the whole tour was in Chinese. Then we stopped for lunch at a restaurant. I had this kind of omelette / scrambled eggs and whitebait concoction. It was really nice. Then we had some free time to wander around the town.
The town was really pretty and I really enjoyed walking up and the paths next to the water, watching people go by on boats. The town was really pretty with loads of traditional houses and cute little bridges to connect the village. Eventhough the streets were narrow and there were lots of tourists. It didn't feel crowded like I thought it might. I went to a lovely temple there, too. THe only problem was the heat. It was relentless and there was nowhere to escape from it, unlessyou went to
a restaurant or cafe. We left about 4 o'clock and headed back to the city. I had a realxing evening at the hostel, ready for my early morning departure.
2nd Aug: Had to get up extremely early as my flight was really early. Didn't get much sleep as the lasses I shared a room with came in late and made loads of noise. Nevermind. Had to take a taxi to the airport due to the early depsrture time of my flight. Taxi turned up early at the hostel, so was able to get on my way quick. Think the taxi was over twenty quid, can't really remember. Had a wander round the airport, i.e. the smokers rooms, with built in lighters as they confiscate yours at security. Uneventful flight. Got back to Incheon and took the airport bus home. Met one of my evil students, while waiting for the bus, was given permission by his mother to beat him. Just under an hour and a half on the bus and home sweet home. Summer holidays done and dusted. Back to work tomorrow, boohoo!
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