13.06.2012 - 15.06.2012
Day 142 – Wednesday 13th June
Got up bright and early today to get this visa out of the way. So we got to the visa place around 9:30ish and I filled out the forms and everything and then they tell me I need to bring a temporary residence form with me which I can get from my hostel, Fuck! So I had to go all the way back, and ask them to write one up for me and then I got back on the road to the public security bureau again. Once I got there I got my little ticket and waited in line again, then I gave him all my forms again, and there was another problem. As I wasn’t sure when I was leaving, the hostel hadn’t written the duration of stay on the form, and in order to get a visa you have to prove you are going to be staying in one place for over a week, which is definitely out of my plans! So he tells me to phone the hostel and get them to fax another one over to say I’m staying until the 20th. So I go to the fax desk and they don’t have a bloody phone, so I go back to the man and he’s like ‘ah I’m sorry’ so I tell him I’m not going all the way back again and he better just sort it out! So he says Ok, just make sure you stay here for more than a week, and I was like of course I can’t even buy a train ticket without a passport (which is true). So he takes my forms and says it will be ready on the 20th, thank god! Considering all the bloody bureaucracy you normally encounter in this country it was a massive stroke of luck to get a guy who would just let it go. Although, I’m worried that if I do go back and I have no proof I’ve stayed in Shanghai for a week I might have some issues, and by then my visa will officially be expired and I’ll be on the next flight home, but we will see what happens I guess, fingers crossed. So after that ordeal I went back to the hostel and straight back to bed (by now it was around 3!). Once I got up, me and the woman went and got some food, then went to go see Shanghai’s answer to Wall Street, the Bund! It’s basically their main financial street and it’s right on the river and at night it’s supposed to be beautiful with all the lights and stuff, and it was. Unfortunately, Shanghai is different to everywhere else in China due to the fact that it actually has some European style buildings and not just quick build horrible modern buildings, this combined with the river made me really think of London, and the whole experience just made me pretty home sick. I just really wanna go home for like one or two days and eat some English food, and see the bloody Thames at night, London has to be the best city in the entire world (in my opinion). So in order to cheer me up, we went and got some McDonald’s, didn’t really work so well, so beer was the next best thing. Came back to the hostel then watched a movie and hit the hay, all in all a pretty miserable day, but at least the visa is out of the way, hopefully.
Day 143 – Thursday 14th June
Finally had a lie in today, didn’t get up until around 12, absolute luxury. Luckily, she had been up for a while and bought our train tickets to Nanjing for tomorrow, and also had some time to watch me sleep (creepy!). The whole situation is just getting a bit out of hand now, she broke up with her boyfriend yesterday, which just puts a shit ton of pressure on me which I really don’t want, and however I act it seems I can do no wrong. Her lack of English is just starting to really wind me up, it’s as if you’re talking to a 12 year old all the time, all Chinese girls are immature, but this is just out of hand as she can’t really hold a good conversation with her, and literally everything I say I have to repeat at least once or give some long explanation to what every word means! Argh!! I mean there are obviously some benefits, one obvious one , and other things like the fact that she can speak Chinese and I’m not completely clueless all the time, for example in a restaurant she can actually order good food rather than me having to point aimlessly at a menu. I don’t know, it won’t be too much longer and being alone does get quite dull after a while, and she pays for pretty much everything, I do offer, but it’s pointless. All I can think is that once I leave her, her life is well and truly in the shit, her relationship is now over after 5 years, if her mum finds out she’s missed graduation and spent the last week or so pissing around with that English boy she met, she’ll probably chop her arm off, ah well I didn’t ask for this and if I just ditched her now I think it would be a lot more harsh. Anyways, enough of my women problems, after eventually getting out of bed, we got going to ‘metro city’ which is a big shopping place for cheap (fake) electronics. And as my headphones are broken it seems like the best place to pick up a new pair, and with all these long train journeys, they are desperately needed. So after picking up a bargain, we went back to the hostel and just sat around. There aren’t really any particular sights I want to see in Shanghai, except for the nightlife. After dinner, we watched Notting Hill, which just made me even more depressed than yesterday; the whole film is set in London with the most British guy ever playing the lead role, as if I didn’t feel home sick already! I don’t actual feel particularly homesick, it’s just when I’m confronted with London right in the face I just really feel the want to go back, just for a little bit, but China ain’t half bad.
Day 144 – Friday 15th June
Got up bright and early today to hop on a train to Nanjing, it’s just North-West of Shanghai, and she’s never been before and it’s supposed to be a cool place. The train took a good 4 hours, and I spent pretty much the whole journey just munching on sunflower seeds, all Chinese people just sit around cracking open the little shells just to eat these tiny seeds, and the whole journey all you ever here is the constant cracking of them. Recently, I’ve started doing the same, when in Rome and all that, and I really understand why they do it, it’s so therapeutic and it somehow really eats up time and stops you from getting too hungry. Anyway, eventually got in to Nanjing around 3ish, and went straight to the hostel to drop off our bags. She has a mate who lives here, they’ve known each other for 10 years, yet they’ve never met in the flesh. Basically in China they have this thing called QQ, which every single person has and it’s effectively MSN (instant messenger) which is of course controlled by the government, and when it first came out people just sort of met randomly on it, and that’s how these two met. The upshot of all this is that this guy has offered to pay for our accommodation and all our food while we’re here, and of course show us around. God I love the Chinese hospitality, another benefit to travelling with a Chinese person! He didn’t finish work till around 6 so we just sat around waiting for him, and then when he arrived he took us on a little tour of the surrounding area. We’re staying in the old town, and it’s all really pretty with the lights on the river and the semi authentic Chinese feel (take away all the crappy tourist shops). Unfortunately he doesn’t speak English, and my translator isn’t amazing at it either so the little ‘tour’ was wasted on me. He took us for some food, at 3 separate restaurants, Chinese people really do go all out for guests, I can’t emphasize that point enough! So all in all it was a pretty successful evening, lots of free food, he even paid for my shopping when we went to a supermarket, which consisted of soap and beer, I tried to stop him, but it’s completely pointless. We got back to the hostel at around half 9 and said goodbye to him, we will be seeing him again tomorrow for some more free food, and obviously his great company! I went to bed around 12, and set an alarm for 2 to watch the England game. After a good hour or so of trying to find a website which wasn’t blocked by ‘the great firewall of China’ and one that was quick enough on the crappy internet, I eventually started watching the game 15 minutes in. I could write for hours about how our performance was, but if you watched it you know, and if you didn’t you really dodged a bullet. At least you can’t say that watching this joke of a football team of ours isn’t entertaining I guess, and at least we got the win. Eventually I got to bed around half 5, not looking forward to getting up tomorrow!