The Chinese people are good at many thing and I would say especially on building railway. Sweden has a lot to learn from here and in exchange we could learn the Chinese things we noticed that they suck at. Well, we haven’t found that much that they suck at though but their sausages taste like shit, their toilet paper is so thin that it just fall apart once you look at it and their parking culture for cars make the wild west remind you of a romantic comedy but the worst part is their beer, its more like water than beer but I can accept it all because the rest of China is really, really awesome!
We took a cab to the railway station and without any problem we found our way to our platform but here we noticed a big difference compared to Sweden. Instead of going to a platform it was more like flying where you check in and wait in a big room. Once its time to board you go down to the platform and there the train is already waiting for you. Really neat and with almost as many staff as travelers it was impossible to do anything wrong. The train itself had plenty of room, a TV, WIFI, a restaurant wagon and all you could ask for and even if we were traveling in 300km/h you didnt hear anything from the train or felt anything. To be honest it was more like flying than going by train with the exception that you could see the Chinese countryside through the window. 1300km was finished in 5 hours with a couple of stops at different stations, Sweden can really learn from this!
From Shanghai we haven’t explored that much yet, we checked in at the hotel and then left for something to eat. Lazy me let Anton order the food and this was the last time I let him do that. Everything was really good but he order pig’s feet with chili, cucumber with chili, beef with chili, everything had chili! Halfway through our meal the waitress came and gave us extra napkins because we were sweating like pigs and it came fire from our mouths and even if we ordered room tempered beer by mistake it was so good.
First day in Shanghai and we spent it like we were kings. We started the day to head over to the coffee shop just across the street with an real, western breakfast. No more rice to breakfast, instead we took fresh pressed juice, eggs, bacon, ham, pancakes and you name it. Once we put our order we had some communication problem with the waitress, she told us that something was out of stock but what? We had no idea and she pointed on the Chinese word in the menu. Well..we had no idea what it was but once the food arrived we realized that it was the chicken who was missing. We dont mind since we been eating rice and chicken for several years on this trip.
After this huge breakfast we took the metro to People square, a small square we thought but it was more like a huge center with a park, several shopping malls, a couple of museums and yea, you name it. We had no real plan for the day so we just strolled around and felt the atmosphere which is way more western here than in Beijing. We did however took a look at the Shanghai museum and checked out some ancient calligraphy, jade, clothes and coins from ancient China. It was like the first time we had signs in English so it we knew what we were looking at and it was really nice.
From People square you have access to Nanjing road which is one of Shanghais biggest shopping streets. Personally I almost went crazy because of all the beggars and “helpful people who wanted to show you the best shops” but it was indeed an experience that too and it was all worth it once we got down to “the bund” and saw the amazing skyline of Shanghai. There is many skyscrape in this city and one is more designed than another. We have to get up in one before we leave this city!
I took command and decided the dinner for today and that was maybe not the best. Somehow we found a true local Chinese place and the whole restaurant stop when we entered. We ordered food and it was good but I have no idea what it was we ate and every time a new guest entered they stopped and just looked at us, shocked. Overall a lot of people are staring at you and some even have asked if they can take a photo of us. It feels weird but I guess this is the feeling of being exotic but back to restaurants, I try to live after the feeling that if there is plenty of people at the restaurant, then you will get good food. You maybe dont know what kind of food but at least you dont get sick and so far my theory seems to work!
Both me and Anton starts to grow really tired of Chinese Internet connection. Ok, everything goes through their censorship filter but thats the way it is and we are not far behind with UK’s “no porn filter” and Sweden’s “Child-porn filter” but seriously, if you say you have WIFI make sure it fucking works and that it doesn’t demand a login page which is built for Internet explorer 3.0 and Win95.
So, enough ranting and I can tell you about our day which we spent in the bund district, watching skyscrapers, boat and ferries along the river and just looking at people. We found a really nice restaurant, the waitress were looking like crazy among the booking list and with a big portion of luck we got a table for two. I guess this is a popular place and once we got the food I understand why. Scallop, dumplings, crab..you name it and we ate it and after a beer or maybe two we continued to the Oriental Pearl. We must go up in some skyscrape so why not aim for this one which is 438m high and gives you a nice view over the city.
On our way over to the Oriental Pearl we did however took a deep dive in a tourist trap, the maglev train under Yangtze river. The train ride was around 5 minutes long, filled with psychedelic colors and I don’t know what kind of drugs you should have taken before the ride we I missed them and this was just weird and expensive. Once we got up in the tower though we forgot all about it and we just enjoyed the view. From 350m you get a nice view over the city and you can see pretty far but still you only see the city continue in what it looks eternity. Unfortunately the Internet connection is really bad so I will only show you a small teaser of the photos I took today.
Our plans for the day was to visit Yuyuan garden, a nice park which was created during the Ming dynasty and after that move on and go shopping. Something is wrong in the world when its cheaper to buy new clothes instead of washing your old ones.
Yu garden was crazy big, according to Wikipedia its 5 acres and it contains several small path, big rocks, water and houses. The rocks are some special sort which has been moved here just to build the garden and in former China the rocks symbolized wealth and this garden is filled with rocks. My pictures below does not make it fair since it was really beautiful and calm to walk around in the garden and you cant believe that you are in central Shanghai when you walk here, enjoying the waterfalls or looking at the goldfishes.
Outside the park there is a huge market where you can buy pretty much anything. Unfortunately I think that 98% of what they sell is crap but it was really nice to just stroll around and look what they sell. All houses are built in classic style which is kind a cozy and when we found a toy store I become like a 7 year old again. I’m so jealous of kids growing up with stores like this now cause this one was packed with all kind of toys and I would probably emptied my wallet here if it wasn’t for that little thing that you need to bring it home in some way too.
The evening was spent with testing Shanghais nightlife, we met two British guys we made town with and our happiness when we found a bar who sold pizzas was unspeakable. It was not the best pizza or anything like that but to get a bite of a slice of pizza, with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni was so good, I guess since we only been eating Chinese food the last two weeks and the weeks before that we only ate different sort of cabbage. We continued into the night going from bar to bar and it was a blast, of course it would be since we are in a 20 million city but yea…it was amazing.
Anton almost lost his credit card though then he mistook a ASM from a ATM, we had no idea how to get the machine to eject his card but luckily for us our taxi driver came and saved us and more or less trashed the whole ASM-machine. Antons card looks like shit but he got it back and it still works so all good! Myself came home with a new shirt, I guess thats the thing with this trip, we swap clothes with each other when we drink.
To be honest, today haven’t been our busiest day. It tear you down to travel or it might been our nightlife that tear us down, anyway I skip to say that we haven’t done anything except eating and sleeping today and instead I talk about traveling and travel companion.
Personally I am really impressed by the people we met who are traveling alone. I mean, English doesn’t really work on this trip and you have to put faith in peoples good will, sign language and good luck to make yourself understood. From time to time it is really nice to have someone to speak to in your native language, or at least someone to talk to and laugh together with in all the bizarre situations you end up in. At the same time, if you travel alone you will be forced more into meet new people which may good for us, reserved swedes.
The opposite, to travel in groups is often more easy. At least my experience is that you stay in the group and one or two in the group take the role as leader and the rest more or less just follow. It easier,you have always someone to talk to and someone who knows a little bit more which is nice but you don’t meet the same amount of local people and you kind a miss a part of the culture, I mean traveling is at least 50% of meeting new people.
This is of course generic speaking and I seen both introvert people who backpack alone and very social large groups but I still think that 2 persons is the perfect compromise, you are not alone but still you kind a need to push and meet new people but that doesn’t mean that me and Anton are the optimal traveling companions. We have been traveling together before and we share what we want to get out of the trip which makes it sound like the optimal companion but we do have one problem. We never say no and by some reason we excites each other and push the other to do things that sometimes may not be the smartest. I don’t think we really think about it and because of it we meet a lot of fun people and that we done a lot of stupid stuff which always ended up with a big laugh the day after and the question, what did we think there? Maybe we should have been three on this trip, one more who cold hold us back a little but no matter if we are going to a Chinese hard labor, our downfall or just have the vacation of our lives we have just as huge as long smiles on our faces, this trips is the shit!
Inspired by the toy store yesterday Anton and me decided to time travel back until we were 7 and the best thing you could do was to visit a theme park. A brief look at the metro map and we were on our way to Happy Valley, Chinas equivalent to Six Flags.
We started in the water area and took one water slide after another and suddenly we ran into the British guys we met a couple of days ago and like that we were 5 instead of just two. It may sound weird that in a 20 million city we ran into them but trust me, non asians stick out in this place and we kind a got the idea from them to go here, we had no idea that we would go here the same day though. Anyway the themepark was quite good with fun water slides, not so much action but nice and family friendly and it was really nice to just take a swim in the sunny weather. Some of the slides were really good though, especially one where you were sitting on a inflatable ring och going down the slide which were really steep and then you went up on almost a vertical wall on the other side. This slide was built for 4 Chinese people, not 4 fat Europeans and we got so much speed downhill that we almost kicked out of the track while going up the vertical wall. After that we were not allowed to go 4 anymore but we had fun anyway. I did miss the wave where you can surf but I guess I have to go back someday.
Happy Valley which is the theme park has everything a real theme park should have. A lot of different roller coasters and we aimed for the first one and when they had warm up before take off I realized that this will be fun and fun it was and that was the start point for all kind of roller coasters and attractions. It was really fun and we tried them all, from wooden roller coasters to top modern with huge drops and regarding yesterdays post about me and Anton always excite each other. Our last ride was the flume ride and me and Anton started with “The vikings never used any rain ponchos”, everybody else used them but we didn’t and and without exaggerate we created a 10-15m high wall of water and guess where it ended up, yep..in the lap of me and Anton.
Wet like drown kittens we took the metro back towards Shanghai center and we we finished the day on a bar, dripping wet eating a hamburger and drinking ice cold beer, lifes good!
A gray day with the rain hanging in the air so we decided for another animal day and just in time for us to arrive to Shanghai Aquarium it started to rain. Shanghai Aquarium is one of the biggest aquarium in the world, at least if you believe the signs. Anyway its huge and they have one of the biggest under water pathways in the world, somewhere around 120m long where you are surrounded by water, coral reefs, fishes and all you can imaging. Really nice and only this makes it totally worth a visit!
Most of the signs were actually translated to English so you could read about it but there is plenty of typos and me and Anton concluded that Chinese English is an own language, closely related to English but still an own language. I upload a few of all pictures I took, as normal i really recommend to visit the place instead since my photo skills ain’t the best
A new attempt to write a post since the Internet didn’t work very good yesterday. To be honest it still doesn’t work any good but hopefully good enough for me to write this post,
We started the day with noticing that it was raining and gray outside. Not the funniest weather but we decided to head over to the Jing’an temple and check it out. Look at the map and off we went but maybe we should have looked a little bit more on the map because we never found any temple. We walked street up and down, block by block and we were 100% sure we were in the right area but we just couldnt find the temple. Instead we headed over to a coffee shop and had some sweet cookies, it may be the first failure on this trip but it feels like we seen so many temples already so it cant be that bad that we miss this one. Now when Im back at the hotel and having Internet connection I can see we walked just pass the temple but we never recognized it, epic failure!
We headed over to the arcade and for €4 we spent a couple of hours shooting zombies, going skateboarding, drove car, played air hockey and played bongos. Arcades are totally under estimated way to spend time and is a real life saver when the weather sucks and you just want to spend a few hours. The quality of the games was not the best but it was cheap so I don’t complain.
On the evening we went to a small, local Chinese restaurant and it as time to try the famous bullfrog. You kind a eat it like ribs and it was a challenge indeed to eat it with chopsticks without sending food all over the restaurant but once you succeed with a really taste frog, I give it 8 of 10.
So today our plan was to eat the weird stuff day but we kind a failed real time, we didn’t find any nice food market. We did find a more regular market though where they sold all other kind of things you can imaging. Most of the food was raw though and even if you could buy anything you could possible need to make a fest we were more into looking for cooked food, instead we found chickens, ducks, turtles, crabs, crayfish, all kind of weird vegetables and meat, plenty of meat laying on the tables in 25 degrees heat for the day, I wouldn’t buy that!
We did however found some cooked food and we started with some bread which kind a looked like a pizza but was just simple bread with seasons, pretty good. After that we went for some barbecued squid, the Chinese girl asked me something which I didn’t understood (as usual) so I just smiled and said yes and the girl took some sort of sauce on the squid and jesus, I have no idea what it was but Chili is for kids compared to this, lucky for me I had a huge beer just beside me and even if it was really good it that sauce almost was just to much.
Straight after the good market we went to a phone store, we just had to check the prices. A Galaxy S4 costs around €80, unlocked of course and that that would be like a tenth of what it cost in Sweden, pretty cheap!
To walk around in wet clothes after happy valley was maybe not our brightest idea and when I woke up this morning I had a cold from hell, in other words we took another calm day and where we mostly walked around in Shanghai without any plans. After lunch/dinner on a Indonesian place I felt much better, actually so much better that we decided to head over to Perrys which is a classic expat bar in Shanghai. Perrys is nice if you want to meet westerner people and for every day they have a theme, from “order one, get two” to free cigarettes day.
Anyway at Perrys we had a few drinks, smoked some cigarettes and discussed all you can think of, during this the place was starting to fill up with more and more people. As I told you before me and Anton is quite good to incite each others and yea, instead of going back home and sleep off the cold we ordered in a hookah, some Mojito’s and invited over people to our table.
The evening ended up with us partying with some Americans/British people and when we headed over to Maya club where we danced all night long to way to loud music.. Today a few hours later it still beeps in my ears but the club was really nice and since we were all westerns, we didn’t have to queue.
When the sun started to rise and we decided to get back to our hotel we for the first time on this trip found a taxi which actually could read our English business card, a short stop at local shop buying water and we were back at our hotel, sleeping! Woke up a few hours later all all traces of the cold is gone, believe it or not but you can apparently club away a cold.
To buy electronics in China is always interesting. Me and Anton walked around and looked at new phones, tablets and stuff like that and the prices are fantastic, the only “problem” is that the brand is Sumsang instead of Samsung but it maybe doesn’t matter since the price is so low as €40 instead of the €600 for the same model in Sweden. Anton couldn’t stay away from a good deal so after we verified that the phone starts, it looks ok in quality he bought one.
According to the information we found online and in the store the hardware should be the same as in the original, our first peek preview of the phone was also descent, I mean we know its a pirate copy but for that price, amazing. The truth is though that phone is not even close of having the same hardware, the RAM memory is 100Mb and the display doesn’t support tilting and maybe the worst part, the USB charger, I doesn’t even dare to connect it to my computer.
To summarize it I would say that you can find really cheap electronics here, you can do the deal of your life but you can also get scammed. If you go for the real deal, like Apple or Samsung its more or less the same prices as in your home country though.
This trip is almost over and this is our last day in Shanghai, tomorrow we head back home to Sweden. It was ridiculous hot today so we could barely be outside but during the afternoon we got so restless that we took a walk, played some air hockey at the arcade and at the evening we met up Martin, Greg and Chloe for a good bye dinner.
They knew a good Japanese place we went to were you payed a fixed amount (around €30) and then you could eat and drink how much you want. Thats pretty expensive for being China but it was no buffet or something cheap like that, instead you ordered dishes from the menu just as usual Tried a lot of different dishes I never even heard about before and the food was really great, pretty fun to see the chef prepare and cook your food just in front of you too! After the dinner, which took like three hours we went on to a bar and somewhere around 2am we headed back to our hotel and started to pack our bags, which our neighbors didn’t like. However our plan is to be tired so we can sleep during the whole flight!
So the day is here which means we need to take our backpacks and go back to reality and our home. I guess that I will get some questions if I never went home sick on this trip and I must say no. We have been so busy on so short time, met so many people, been into situation that you really cant prepare for and which demands your concentration that I never really thought about the life back home but of course, I missed my family and friends.
There are several different ways to get to the Shanghai Pudong airport, the most expensive but easiest would be to take a taxi. The not so comfy but cheap would be to take the airport shuttle bus and we decided for neither. Instead we took the metro for a few stations and then bought tickets for the maglev train. We had some discussion about how we should go to the airport but even if it doesn’t was attracting to go by the metro during rush hour with all our luggage the decision was easy. We should really end this trip with a train ride and what can be better than going by the worlds fastest commercial train?
A short walk to the metro in 30 degrees heat, a packed metro and we kind a started to ask ourselves if this really was the best decision but once we got the the maglev train station we knew we took the right decision. The maglev train is like in many cities, just a train ride between the city and the airport, its not the cheapest alternative but with that ends all my experience of train rides to the airport. A ticket cost around €5 /20% off if you got a airplane ticket for that day), the train is maglev which means its levitate using magnetism and while most other trains barely reach 200km/h this train march speed is 430km/h. I don’t know how many km the track is but we reached the airport in 7 minutes.
Shanghai airport was really nice, long queue to check in but no problem and their immigration was really cool. First time I ever seen that they scan your passport, your pictures displays and while you look at your picture they take another picture of you and let the computer compare them to make sure its the same person. I assume more border controls use this method but I never seen it so clearly before and it worked like a charm, even if my beard is pretty much bigger now than when I got my passport.
The Aeroflot flight was not a big hit though, it was cheap and I know why. Old plane with comfort like shit but after changing planes in Moscow we got a much smaller, but better plane and even the food was actually really good. Still I cant really recommend anyone to fly with Aeroflot as long as its not really, really cheap tickets!