The Never-ending Day: China Tour Day 1-2ish
We’re finally here in Shanghai! The 11 hour flight was fairly uneventful apart from the ripping of a pair of trousers and a little too much from the BA mini bar. We were a little delirious as we bundled into our tiny coaches at 10 am local time, only to realise that there wasn’t enough room for all our instruments and luggage. The solution was to have it packed in around us and on top of us, much to everyone’s amusement!
The Jin Yan Hotel is on the outskirts of the city and is very comfortable but we were keen to dump our things and get out into Shanghai as soon as possible. The tour gets going properly tomorrow and we wanted to soak up as much culture as possible!
We began with lunch in a Chinese fast food restaurant. 18 Yuan (~ £1.80) for a drink and massive bowl of tomato and noodle pork meatball soup! Then the task of locating and working out how to use the metro: we soon realised how out of our depth we were, even with our maps. Pointing and miming only gets you so far when asking for directions and road signs aren’t particularly tourist-friendly even in Shanghai. The giggles finally set in as we finally plonked ourselves down into a carriage and took in our surroundings and situation: unable to understand anything written or said and falling asleep as we sat in our seats to the unknown.
We had set our sights on visiting a temple, the Yu Yuan Gardens, the Bund and maybe a tea house along the way. The tourist information pointed us in the wrong direction and we ended up walking round and soaking up the atmosphere of the city instead and missing everything else. We encountered a bizarre mixture of old and new everywhere we turned, combined with the honks of car horns and the most confident cyclists I’ve ever seen. The green man apparently doesn’t apply to bicycles or motorbikes and there was a fair bit of running and squealing at pedestrian crossings.
We finally gave up on our tourism venture and plumped for a taxi back. It was an interesting experience. More like a slalem ride. Our driver seemed oblivious to all the car horns, gesturing and swearing as we dodged from one tiny space to another and through the narrowest gaps. I have to admit I let out a squeak or two!
We somehow ordered dinner the wrong way but were getting used to doing things the wrong way by now. Much to the restaurant’s surprise, we ordered and enjoyed a Chinese feast. It seems to be a common preconception here that Westerners only eat MacDonalds and we have already frequently been met with genuine pleasure at wanting to experience real Chinese food and culture. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to try the black pickled egg that was on offer for breakfast or “the boiled blood curd and other stuff” that’s on offer with room service, but you never know by the end of the trip!
POST TITLE: The Never-ending Day: China Tour Day 1-2ish
AUTHOR: Jenny Maslin
POSTED: 28th December 2011