Monday, 21 November 2011

Shanghai weekend - 189 mph - life at top speed...

Monday 21st November. 17:00. The weather has turned now and although the day has been bright and sunny it’s getting colder.

The bad news is this. Steve is being sent home to the UK by the college. I’m not sure yet of the whole story but I spent Friday taking Steve to the dentist, then to see the European doctor that saw him in the hospital. This Doctor was happy with the progress, he cleaned and re-dressed the wounds and gave Steve a prescription for some drugs and creams etc.  We then had a 2pm appointment with the Chinese doctors at 2pm at the orthopaedic clinic attached to the hospital where Steve was staying.  We met the College liaison guy there. One in the clinic I left as I had to get back to get packed and ready fro the trip to Shanghai.

Just before we left however I got a txt from Steve telling me that the Doctors had wanted him to spend another month in the hospital, that the College couldn’t keep his job open for that length of time so they were going to send him home.  That’s the last I’ve heard so will try to catch up asap.

That news placed a huge damper on the start of our weekend trip to Shanghai, but soon enough I met up with Tom and Peggy and Nichole another American teacher at our college. The plan was for Tom, Peggy and Nichole to stay at Nichole's old school friend who worked in Shanghai. I was offered the couch, but these old bones need a bed so I had booked into a hostel.

We were aiming to get the 6pm bullet train to Shanghai so we were in the taxi and off to the station at about 4:45. The station, like most things in China was huge and teaming with people. But the train was prompt and we were soon in the sleek white body of one of the fastest trains on earth! We stocked up with (Tibetan) in the bar and settled down for the 90-minute trip.

Nanjing Station
Bar Car
First in Queue
Beer O'Clock

And soon we were travelling at 301kilometres per hour – yes that about 181mph! Fast huh?

Unfortunately night had fallen so there was not much to see out of the windows, so we applied ourselves to drinking beer and eating crisps, as one does.

Fast Train

In Shanghai we jumped in a taxi and was soon zooming though the bright lights of the city. Every building seems to be dressed with neon and led’s. It was bright. 

Shanghai at night
Shanghai at night
Shanghai at night Blue Motorway lights
Nichole's friend John lives on the 25 floor of a block and we were soon there.  More beer was taken.

Johns Flat
 View from Flat
We went out into the night to find somewhere to eat, but by this time (about 10 ish) I was flagging, having been up early for Steve and taken him across the City earlier so I wimped out before I fell asleep in the soup and jumped into a taxi to find my Hostel.

Hostel room

The hostel was about a 20-minute taxi drive away, but Steve had recommended it to me as a good place to stay. And he was right. I was upgraded to a twin room, and it has en-suite etc, plus in the morning there was breakfast. It cost 140y a night (about £14)

I was so tired, but was a bit hungry so after checking in went out to find something, fortunately there was a McD’s over the road, so a large chips, pineapple pie and strawberry thick shake was taken back to the room.

Next morning, breakfast was OK and then I had to work out how to navigate the Metro to get back into the city and find where Nichole's friend lived.  I managed to do that and got to them about 10 o’clock. They had already bought in breakfast. In Shanghai there is a company called Sherpa’s that will collect and deliver any order from the restaurants in their catalogue for the same price as what the food is sold for in the restaurant.

Once out we followed a vague plan, first both Nichole and Tom were interested in buying a camera, so we headed out to a camera market that Nichole knew of. Once there I managed to get my camera fixed, I had dropped it a while ago, and whilst I didn’t really damage the camera, the drop had smashed the UV filter and jammed it into the lens.  The repair guy in the shop fixed it and I got a new UV filter for 60y (£6) so I was made up with that.

Camera repair guy

Then when browsing around the shops I asked about a bigger lens for my camera, most of them were quoting 2500-3000y, but I came across a shop which quoted my 1850 which was a bargain, whilst we were there Tom and Nichole looked at the cameras and as Tom was buying also we were able to negotiate a reduction for me and a 8mb card and bag for Tom, so I got 50y knocked off as well and given a bag for the lens.

Tom and John haggling
At the shop where we bought  - Nichole thinking

So we left happy.

Then the girls wanted shoe and clothes shopping. First John took us to a couple of Malls, but these were really for rich Chinese and tourists, not poor teachers like us, so we went to the Fake market.

Johns practical joke on Nichole

Street seller

Peggy was soon in possession of a pair of UGGS she had been wanting (140y - £14), plus a North Face Jacket ‘on sale’ for 100y.  Nicole got gloves, an ‘omega’ watch and other stuff, Tom got headphones, a laser pointer, and a 100y jacket in the same sale.

Kids in the Fake market

John got a nice case on wheel, headphones and a cool jacket

I got a DVD and some software.

Street Scene Shanghai

Tom in a model plane shop
 Through a window
 By a fountain
Tom with laser - enjoying 

By then it was getting late, so we taxied back to Johns flat, dumped the stuff had a beer then headed out for food walking through the busy streets. 

In the bar/restaurant Tom had fun with his new laser

 Nichole's nose lasered

Food and beer consumed we went to a bar Steve had recommended called the Captains bar.
 John was buying cigarettes and flirting madly with the vendor

At night all of the buildings across from the Bund are illuminated until about 10pm.  The veranda of the Captains bar gave us a spectacular viewpoint. So we stayed there having drinks, shooting the breeze with other expats until late. 

 Pudong from the Captains Bar

 Pretty lights

 American bass player from the Blues bar next door

Waitress waiting

I actually left at about 1 am to get to my hostel, but the others, like the night before, stayed out until about 3ish when the Bar closed.

It was a 60y taxi home at 1 in the morning, which, for China, is quite expensive, but the Hostel was a bit out of town, a lesson learnt for next time.

Sunday was a slower start but I was in town for about 10ish having mastered the Shanghai metro system.  At Johns the consensus was that we went with Nichole's cravings for bagels and Bloody Mary’s. all of which we could order in. So we did.

 Metro Pink
 At Last! Nichole gets her Bloody Mary
 My first ever Bloody Mary - it must be healthy eh? Tomato Juice and Celery!
Photo time

Breakfast was luxurious and we took our time over it and it lasted until about 1:30. We were planning to get the 4pm train back so we could see some China in the daylight, but we also wanted to go to the antiques market which was just down the road. So John zipped out for more Bloody Marys’ whilst Nichole showered and then we were out.

The antiques market was fun and lots of haggling was done. 

 Tom n Peggy still with Bloody Mary's

 Kids playing with plastic bags - health n safety not gone mad here
 John haggling
 Stripping wire
 Hmmm contradictions here me thinks
John haggling (poor picture) but he's very very good at it

I got a Chinese warm hat for 35y which I thought was a bargain as I had been offered one in the fake market for 150y. Then Tom trumped me for getting one for 20y. Darn it. Nichole bought a drum and other trinkets were gathered.

Then it was off to the station. But there were no tickets left for the 4pm train so we had to book onto the 6:30 train. What to do? Ah Nichole has a cousin with a bar. So we dived into another taxi and zoomed there. 


We met with the cousin had beer and food, then back into a taxi back to the station and onto the train.

305kph – 189mph coming home.

Fast huh?

It’s was a great weekend!

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