Shanghai, China, Day Five
Day five started as day four ended, pretzelled in a narrow bunk gently swaying from side to side on the overnight train to Shanghai. The night had been punctuated by Ma on the bottom bed crinkling a variety of packets as she looked for lord knows what, vastly unpleasant smells wafting along from the hole in the floor bathroom and people stomping along the open corridor at the foot of our beds. Egil at 6’5″ and Jason at 6’2″ who were on the top bunks so they could stretch out into the luggage area, slept the latest, I imagine simply because there was not really anywhere for them to go when they got up.
When everyone finally was up we danced around each other juggling to get ready in the tiny space and then sat not terribly comfortably 3 abreast on the hard bunk until 2 moved out onto seats in the narrow corridor. There is simply not enough room for 6, so unless you’re super keen on backpacking and sleeping with strangers I’d pay the minimal extra to go soft sleeper where you’ll at least be able to sit up on your bunk, the cabins are for four people only and you can close the door. I feel like such a moaner but if I only talked about the great things that happen when we travel this would be bullcrap, so I’ll just have to feel a bit moany and move on. I didn’t hate the experience, I just don’t need to repeat it any time soon.
17 hours after leaving Beijing we arrived in fog shrouded Shanghai, the moving of the 14 of us with bags in tow is an amusing affair as we try to stick together but inevitably are separated in the sea of people that are everywhere we go in China. The train stations are simply massive, way bigger than anything in England but then we only have a paltry 60 million people and China has more than a few billion to move around.
We made it to our hotel and after a brief shower break headed out en masse to a delicious lunch closeby. After stuffing our faces on real Chinese food in a real Chinese restaurant which was spectacular, as all of the meals we have had so far have been we walked along to the Shanghai Library and took the Subway to the Nanjing Road where we took in the majesty of the Bund (Relevant interesting information to be added later) the little I think I know is that when Shanghai first opened up as a port to foreign trade the Brits came and built magnificent buildings along the rivers edge, opposite which used to be marshland. The buildings remain and are as monumental as ever, the marchland was filled and has been replaced with a maze of skyscrapers and some of the tallest buildings in the world making for a rather lovely view, if cityscapes are your thing.
We wandered around the Nanjing Road for the next few hours, stopping for ice cream and snacks before regrouping and heading back to the subway in full rush hour which was so busy it was insane. Despite being told to stand at separate carriages so we stood a better chance of getting on, everyone followed on like lemmings and when it came to getting off the train doors almost closed on J and Sarah before I stuck my arm inand we prised them open enough for them to squeeze out, much to the horror of Joanna, our very lovely and rule abiding guide. I don’t think we’ll be travelling at rush hour tomorrow but if we do I’m walking as far away from the pack as possible while maintaining line of sight on Joanna. It really is a fine group, everyone seems perfectly lovely including the chatty Cathies who have definitely grown on me, we’re all just here wanting to discover China and have a wonderful time after all.
At the end of our unbelievably crowded subway journey was the best £26 I’ve spent in a long time, Era – Intersection of Time, an acrobatic marvel at the Shanghai Circus which was totally amazing and after almost 2 hours of wonder climaxed with 8 motorcycles driving in a metal ball maybe 5 metres tall, MINDBLOWING! I haven’t smiled, laughed or clapped so much since I first saw Cirque du Soliel all those years ago. Recent Cirque productions have felt a bit blah whereas this was pure art, pure skill, marvellously exhilarating, I whooped and hollered like a mad woman I loved it so much.
It’s off to bed with a smile on my face for me, tomorrow we’ve a long day planned; we’re heading to the museum, ferry crossing to Pudong and maybe up one of the tall buildings, we plan to get lost in the French concession and top the day off with a food tour, it’s been so long you must have been wondering when our next one would be ☺️