October 10: Right now IÂm on the sleeper train from Huang Shan to Shanghai. ItÂs not that far, but itÂs going to take all night. My guide book says the distance is only 500km, but the train seems to be stopping every 20 minutes or so at every little town along the way.
The train is pretty comfortable though. IÂve got a lower berth in a four-bed cabin. ThereÂs a power plug for my laptop, and hooks and hangers for my clothes. IÂve got a comfy pillow and a nice comforter. My ÂroommiesÂ seem pretty friendly. One of them speaks a bit of English, and offered me a cup of tea that he made from leaves he purchased in Huang Shan.
More later when thereÂs more to say.
October 11: Well, it was a great ride, actually. My roomies left in the middle of the night, because we got to their stop at around 3am. That left me with the entire cabin to myself. I distributed my junk around the space and made myself comfortable. When I woke up in the morning, I watched Snakes on a Plane on my laptop. It wasnÂt as terrible as I had expected it to be, but I had expected it to be terribly terrible, so thatÂs not saying much. ItÂs still not a very good movie. For breakfast, I had a few little green oranges that IÂd bought in Huang Shan City. These are oranges just like any other in the middle, even though the outside is a different color. Could this be a deep sentiment of some kind, somehow relating to humanity? Possibly. What IÂm really trying to say is humanity is delicious and juicy.
We arrived in Shanghai after an innumerable number of stops. By this time it was about 10:45am. IÂd left Huang Shan City at 9:45pm last night. What a long trip! My first impression of Shanghai was of shock and awe. I actually didnÂt know what to do when I first left the train station. I was used to China being noisy, crowded and pushy, but Shanghai seems to elevate that to a whole new level. What greeted me outside of the station was a cacophony of human and machine noises. Taxis honking, buses roaring, people shouting, pushing and generally crawling over each other. It wasnÂt a pleasant scene. I decided to try the subway system to get to my hostel.
The subway system here is very good. ItÂs fast and efficient, just like in Beijing. It took a little while to figure out how much I should pay for my ticket, because that depends on how far youÂre traveling, but they had a chart, so after a bit of puzzling over the Chinese names, I got it sorted out.
After exiting the subway, I had an approximately 20 minute walk to my hostel. It wasnÂt easy to find, as the map was designed to look nice, but wasnÂt terribly informative. Finally, I located the hostel by asking in a nearby hotel. The lady behind the desk was nice enough to walk me outside, and then hand me off to a security guard, who handed me off to another security guard, who practically walked me to the hostel next door. So much for Shanghai people being unhelpful, as other people have told me.
I checked in around 1pm. My room is really quite nice. ItÂs clean, bright, compact, and has a nice view of the street outside.
By the time IÂd dropped my stuff in the room, I was starving, since the only thing IÂd had that day was three of the little green oranges at about 6am. Then my world was made of stairs, up and down within the subway station, up and down over roads on pedestrian overpasses, carrying my suitcase and camera bag everywhere. I was desperate for some caveman food. I went to the little restaurant next to the hostel and got some roast pork and some Chinese cabbage. The roast pork was delicious, but the cabbage was cooked with the disgusting duo of salted duck egg and thousand-year-old duck egg. Dad would have loved it. Me, not so much. Anyway, I ate the things that I could. I also had a glass of the local Oolong tea, which is green tea made from partially fermented leaves. The leaves are rolled up into balls, and as they soak in the hot water, they sink to the bottom and open up. The tea was delicious. Breathing in after drinking the tea gives the sensation of sweetness on the tongue. ItÂs quite an unusual sensation, but very pleasant.
Anyway, IÂm going to go to the bank to get some cash, and check out the busy neighborhood around the hostel. IÂll take some photos tonight.
Here are a few that have come up since last time I posted. First, some leftover market-sceneÂ pics from Huang Shan:
Then a couple snaps from my neighbourhood in Shanghai: