A Travellerspoint blog

Still bumming around in Shanghai

Day 152 – Saturday 23rd June

Had a very very lazy day today, which was nice. So I got up at 1, went and got some food then watched some TV for a bit and went back to bed at 4 for a 4 hour nap! Safe to say the day was very much wasted, once I got up at 8! After heading to the shop for some beers to spend the rest of the day sitting in the garden area all alone, I finally met some English speaking people in this place! Due to the fact that it’s currently summer holidays for students and this is the cheapest (crappiest) hostel in Shanghai, there is a vast majority of Chinese people staying here and up until now I was the only English person I’ve seen here, and overall I’ve stayed here around 10 days. Obviously before none of this was an issue due to the fact that I was with the woman, but the last couple days it has been very boring to be here. Anyway, back on track I got talking to an American guy, Sky, fucking ridiculous name yes I know and this Indian guy, Patel or something (not trying to be racist but I don’t remember his name and there’s a pretty good chance that would be it). Anyway, I really wanted to go to a club, and the American guy was up for it as well, so after drinking for a bit he was like yeah fuck it lets go, so I get up to get ready and he’s like actually I can’t be fucked! Then like an hour later we had the same story, I was up and down like a bloody yo yo. Anyway, eventually ‘the love of his life’ came online and he decided to waste his night talking to her, brilliant! Either way, I had a good evening just chatting to the Indian guy, he moved to Shanghai from Delhi for work like a year ago, so he knows a lot about Shanghai, so I’ve now got the inside scoop, still would’ve been more fun to go to a club. I think me and Sky will go tomorrow, but it’s a Sunday and it won’t be that good, so we will have to see.

Day 153 – Sunday 24th June

Due to my ridiculous sleeping schedule of yesterday, I couldn’t get to sleep until around 7 this morning, and I got up at 12, so I was bloody tired. Bring on another day of sitting around and doing fuck all! As I don’t have much to report on my life, I might as well mention one of the guys in my dorm, he’s this super nerdy Asian guy who sits in bed all day playing some game on his computer, or sleeping. It’s absolutely ridiculous; I genuinely haven’t seen him leave the room once! The guy hasn’t eaten in 3 days, he literally gets up sits on his computer (which he leaves on around the clock) shouts some stuff down his little microphone, plays for a few hours then sleeps for a few hours, then wakes back up doesn’t move or have a shower or anything, and just gets back to playing. All the stories are true about Asians, they’re happy to completely zone out of life, and get stuck in a game for days, I’m sure I’m going to find his corpse in a few days, I’ve read too many stories about people who have just died due to getting to in to a game. That anecdote over, Sky went out to the club around 9, and I was way too tired and just not in the mood, so I stayed at the hostel chatting to the Indian guy for a while before going to bed around 12 in order to get a couple hours sleep before the match. Unfortunately I couldn’t sleep, so I got out of bed around 2 like a zombie and sat down to watch England play football. Unfortunately that only lasted 45 minutes and I was forced to stay up for 3 hours to watch 11 spastics chase a ball around a pitch, well worth staying up till 6 in the morning in order to watch us lose penalties. Thanks a lot boys, at least we didn’t win, playing Germany just would have been embarrassing. Finished my diary today, a grand total of 153 days and only 1 day over 5 months the journey is finally over, its potentially the best book ever written, and I can’t wait to read it back in the future, the new one is nowhere near as nice, and due to the fact that I bought it here and Chinese lines always have stupidly big spacing’s in order to fit in their characters, this one probably won’t last more than a month.

Day 154 – Monday 25th June

So after that very late night last night I had about an hours sleep before I got up again at 8 in order to go sort out this bloody visa for Thailand. At least this time I knew the way (due to my antics on Friday) so I got there just as they opened, got in filled out the form and got in the queue. All you have to do is give the guy a filled out form, a photocopy of your passport and proof of a plane ticket saying you will be leaving Thailand, and then he gives you a chitty and you pay. Unfortunately pretty much everyone in front of me didn’t get that message and they seemed to feel the need to ask fucking stupid questions and just genuinely slow everyone down. Including this one retarded Scottish woman who spent the whole time complaining about how long it was taking and then when she got to the front she asked if she could get a visa for her Kenyan husband (bit dodgy) who didn’t even have a passport! Yeah I’m sure that’s going to work, and she was like look I have proof it’s on its way now, it just won’t be ready for a few days and we need the visa now. Sorry love but they need a passport to put the fucking visa inside it!! Stupid bitch, that wasted a good 10 minutes. All in all a line which should have gone in 5 minutes took around 50. But I did eventually get to the front, after these two stupid Indians who applied for a transit visa when they were actually spending time in Thailand and not just transiting! Once I got to the front the guy tells me I need to fill out 2 forms, Ok brilliant, so I leave the queue fill out another form and get let back in the front again. Then he has a go at me for writing in red pen (there were no pens next to the forms so I didn’t have a choice) so I leave the queue again and fill out 2 more forms in a black pen he leant me. So far so good, jump back in the front give him my forms and he says ‘why did you fill out 2 forms?’ because you fucking told me to you idiot!! SO I had to fill out 2 forms in the wrong coloured pen, then fill out another 2 in the right colour, and then this fucking clown says I only needed to do one, thank you very much you asshole. After getting relatively angry at him I think he felt bad so he bumped me up on the list and said he could have the visa ready for tomorrow, rather than 3 days, result! So after an hour and a half I finally made it out of that bloody place, and came back to the hostel to get some sleep, finally! Once I got up it was the same old routine, I don’t really have any more sites I want to see in Shanghai, in honesty I’m only here for 2 things, to sort out my visas and eventually go out to a bloody club. So the rest of my night was spent just sitting around chatting with that Indian guy and then I went to be relatively early in order to get up again tomorrow to go pick up this visa.

Posted by travellingjoe 04:35 Archived in China Comments (6)


Day 149 – Wednesday 20th June

Had an absolutely awesome day today! So it all starts with her waking me up having bought breakfast already, women are useful for some things, quite clearly. As it was our last day today, I was in for a long day of being pampered, start as you mean to go on. So I ate my amazing breakfast in bed, then got showered and we headed off to go pick up my passport from the visa place. I wasn’t sure it was all going to happen, when I dropped off all the forms, the guy didn’t seem very confident that I was going to get my visa. So it was a massive relief when I got there and there was no queue and my passport was ready and waiting, such a good feeling having it back again I don’t feel confident travelling around China without one. So after that, we headed to the Shanghai world financial centre which I think is the 2nd tallest building in the world, it’s definitely the building with the highest viewing platform. So after she paid the extortionate fee to get in, we headed up to the 100th floor! The view from the top was very impressive, if not a bit restricted due to the typical smog and the fact that you have to be behind windows and there’s no outside viewing platform. It was bloody cool though, Shanghai is such a crazy city, and you’ve got the rows of giant buildings and then these massive areas of houses with identical coloured roofs, which just looks really bizarre. We didn’t stay there for too long, the view doesn’t really change so once you’ve seen it there’s bugger all else to do. So we headed back down in the ear popping lift, and on to solid ground. After some lunch, we headed back to the hostel as I needed a nap! Once I got up, we went out for dinner, she’d booked a really fancy restaurant somewhere in the centre and wouldn’t tell me what we were having or where it was, exciting. The place was awesome; it was this super fancy restaurant on a rooftop right in the centre of Shanghai with amazing views, wish I’d taken a camera! She’s already pre booked everything before we got there I’m guessing to avoid me knowing the prices, and holding back, because she had ordered 2 starters each and like 6 main meals and desserts! We started off with a vegetable soup and a tomato soup each, then the first main was chicken and chips, then spaghetti with duck, pizza, nachos, beef stew, and a salad. She’d obviously picked up on me moaning about how much I was craving western food! Then for dessert it was a carrot cake and another cake, not sure what it was, all in all it was the best meal I’ve had in China and I don’t think I’ve ever been so full, but I didn’t want to leave a scrap of food it was so fucking good. On top of that the restaurant had Bombay sapphire gin, which I haven’t been able to find since Beijing, so that was another treat, and judging by how expensive one G&T was I really don’t want to know how much she paid for that meal. God it was just so god dam good, wish I could eat like that every day in restaurants that are that cool. After we left, I managed to find a bottle of gin in a liquor supermarket next door, when you’re not in big cities in china all you can ever find is fucking rice wine which is disgusting! So we came back to the hostel and watched a couple films, drank some good alcohol and went to bed around 2. The whole day was fucking brilliant and a really good way to finish our time together; pretty happy she did push her train back a day in the end.

Day 150 – Thursday 21st June

Got up bright and early today, feeling a little worse for wear after having a terrible night’s sleep, probably too much gin. After getting her bags packed and stuff, we headed out to get some food, and we had another huge meal, impossible to finish this time! That was my last meal where someone can actually order the food I want, gonna really miss having someone Chinese be able to order good food. Although she does always order to much and when it’s my turn to pay I’m not happy! Just joking, I definitely owed her for yesterday, so it was no biggie to pick up the tab on this meal and it really wasn’t that much anyway. After that we headed down to the train station, where we said our goodbyes, never very nice to leave someone in tears just before they’re about to get on a 30 hour train, and you walk away smiling. Very mixed emotions about the whole thing, happy to see her go as she would’ve driven me crazy had she stayed any longer, but then on the flipside it was nice to have companionship and as I keep saying, someone Chinese is way too useful, I think my vision is just clouded after that amazing day yesterday. So I came back to the hostel, and finally wrote the blog, been putting it off for ages as she won’t leave me alone, ever. Then I had a well-deserved nap, unfortunately I’m now back in smelly, noisy dorms again so I didn’t sleep that well at all. After getting up I had a chance to Skype everyone, which took up the rest of my evening. I the quickly got some food and spent the next couple hours getting all my shit together for my Thai visa. I’m going to try and get it tomorrow, and they need so much crap if you want to get it, I’m guessing as we’re in China, a country where getting a passport is dam near impossible. One of the most annoying things is having to have a flight booked to leave, I wanted to leave Thailand by land, and I’m not even sure where I want to go next. But it seems logical to take a flight over sea in order to make it worthwhile and I’ve been hearing lots of good things about Indonesia, and lots of bad things about south-east Asia, so I booked a flight to Bali! Early wake up tomorrow and I’ll go down to the Thai consulate and try and sort it out.

Day 151 – Friday 22nd June

Got up nice and early today, after a terrible night’s sleep, I hate being back in dorms they’re just such a massive downgrade from rooms. So I leave the hostel with all my papers in hand, knowing exactly where this building is, so I decide not to take any written address in Chinese, rule number 1 in china never do that, as you can’t ask anyone for help! So I get off my metro and walk towards my road, find it relatively quickly and all I need to do is find building number 537. So I find number 511 and then the one next to it is number 569, brilliant! Neither of them have any sign saying consulate in this building, and after going in to both buildings and saying Thailand in Chinese (I do know that much) they just look at me as if I’m crazy. Either way the place closes at 11:30, and it got to that time so I had to give up and walk away. Today I’ve organized to meet a Chinese girl, Amy, Who I met about a month ago and who happens to be in Shanghai for the day. So I went to go meet her at the metro station, just as it started to rain, brilliant! Then we went to this little street right in the heart of shanghai which I can’t really describe but it’s all very old and very out of place, just this quiet little community right in the heart of this noisy city. It was a really cool little place and she took me to this hidden away restaurant which she was told about, and we had this amazing meal, and you pay by just putting money in to a box and taking your change out yourself, a very un Chinese way of doing things! I would have never found this place if it wasn’t for having someone with me, I need to find a new Chinese travelling partner soon. After the meal, we walked out of the little place and right on to the road where the embassy should be, so I asked her if she could find it, and no doubt she could, it was on the 15th floor of the 569 building, but either way today was a public holiday so it was closed anyway! After that we decided to walk to the people’s park, as neither of us really knew what else there was in particular to see in Shanghai, and that was relatively close. Just before the park we went into the Shanghai art museum, enough said! At least I didn’t have to pay for the experience. Then we went in to the people’s park and I thought I’d seen my fair share of weird shit in China but I was about to be completely blown away. So all over the place there are these sheets of paper, pinned on the walls, standing up on pieces of wood, literally covering the whole park, and I have no idea what they are. So Amy goes up to read one of them, and it turns out they’re people’s profiles for finding a partner! So all of them are laid out in the same style; sex, age, height, salary, then desired height of partner (e.g. 165-170, never bigger than a 5cm gap!) then age of the woman (just a year of birth, no more wiggle room!) and then their number at the end. If that’s not how you find true love then what is?! It’s absolutely insane, every single one is written in the same format, as if height really needs to be that specific!! The best part is that you have loads of parents who sit next to their children’s advert just waiting all day for the right person to come along, and then on the other side you have loads of parents walking around trying to find the right person for their kid, so in this ‘people’s park’ you’ve just got a shit ton of desperate parents all talking to each other trying to sell their kid as best they can!! The whole thing was absolutely mind blowing, and I’m so glad I was with Amy so she could tell me what it was because I could’ve easily just walked past it all without a clue; she was just as shocked as me by all of it. After that little episode the rain got a bit too much and neither of us knew where to go next so we just headed back to her hostel. Her hostel is way better than mine; there are loads of foreigners, a pool table, and a really cool vibe as well as much cleaner rooms, so I think I will move there in the next couple of days. After she got her bag and stuff, we headed off as she had to get a plane to Chengdu, so we said our goodbyes on the metro and I headed back to my depressing shitty hostel. Just spent the night sitting around, on my computer for a bit, then just with some beer, there’s absolutely no foreigners here, no idea why, but it means that there’s not really much I can do. And I really want to go see the clubs in Shanghai, but I don’t really want to go alone, I need to change hostels soon.

Posted by travellingjoe 00:20 Archived in China Comments (2)

Xitang, and back to Shanghai

Day 145 – Saturday 16th June

After my late night yesterday due to the England game, I was allowed a lie in today, thank god. After packing up all my stuff to change rooms, we were told that we wouldn’t have to, which was fun to hear, at least I’m not paying for any of this. I still don’t even know the name of this guy, I spend all day with him and he buys me everything I feel awful! I guess he doesn’t speak any English so I don’t really have to address him or even speak to him ever. We first went to a Japanese war museum, during the war, the Japs attacked the city of Nanjing as it was the then capital of China and basically murdered 300,000 people, unarmed soldiers and civilians. The whole thing was pretty horrendous, lots of graphic photos of burning bodies and things like that. The whole museum was very interesting although all I had in the back of my mind the whole time was that this was just propaganda against the Japanese. It is the first museum I’ve been to in China which was actually free for a start, on top of that the whole museum was really well done. The funniest part was the epilogue at the end, which basically said that China need to learn from the past and take the lessons in to the future and live in a world of peace where there are no unnecessary killings. There should’ve been some small print at the bottom ‘except if you bad mouth the regime, then you’re fucked!’ but all jokes aside it was a very good museum, if not a bit morbid. The worst part was all the people who took photos in front of the most inappropriate statues. You’d see these Chinese girls standing in front of a statue of a woman holding a dead baby and screaming, really doesn’t seem right. I’ve banned all cameras on excursions as I hate the Chinese way of taking pictures every 2 seconds, and the stupid poses and faces they always have to make, I thought girls in England were bad, but it’s just ridiculous here. Although it does mean there won’t really be any pictures to put up on here, I can safely say it’s worth it because little bear drives me crazy enough as it is, let alone if she had a camera in her hands. After the museum, Mr Generous then took us out for some food, and said goodbye as he had to spend the evening having dinner with his girlfriend and his family or something. So we just headed back to the hostel, and I went straight back to bed. When I got up, I cut my hair, and then we went out for a little walk. Nanjing is a really cool place at night; all the boats have lanterns on them and just go down the little canals which are all lit up. It’s all a bit trashy and touristy but it does look nice, unfortunately to go on a boat tour is ridiculously expensive, so we just got some dinner and went back home.

Day 146 – Sunday 17th June

Got up bright and early today to go meet up with this guy and see a couple more sights before getting on our train outta here. So we met him at his house, dropped off our bags, and then went for a walk around the lake which was pleasant. As I’ve already mentioned, Nanjing is home to the longest wall in the world, 40km, yes the great wall would be bigger had Mao not destroyed most of it, and now the longest section is only 30km rather than the original 200+. This wall is still in really good nick, and it’s bloody impressive, it’s fucking huge! The best thing about it is that every brick has the name and location of the brick maker inscribed in to it (just in case there are any issues, and that person has to be punished). So we walked around on that for a while taking in all the sights, and Little bear had stolen the other guys camera so she was catching up for lost time I guess, and took about a million pictures which I’m guessing would all look terrible. After that, we got a cab back to his house and sat down for some lunch, which his girlfriend had seemingly spent all morning preparing. There was so much food; duck, beef soup, an array of different vegetables, more beef, and some other stuff which I just can’t remember. All in all there were about 10 different dishes, and of course he gave me some beer, he opened 3 straight away for no apparent reason. It was midday and we only had about 40 minutes to eat, yet he opens 3 big bottles when he doesn’t even drink. So after forcing down 2 in a rush I had to leave the last one and then we got going to the train station. She only got the tickets yesterday so we didn’t have seats, which is normally not an issue as they restrict the amount of standing tickets sold for safety reasons. Unfortunately on this train that wasn’t implemented and we had 2 and a half hours of literally not being able to move a muscle as it was chocker block, going to the toilet was completely out of the question and whenever we stopped at a station, people trying to get off literally had to crowd surf their way to the door, it was nuts. Anyway, we eventually made it a little worse for wear, and then we had to get on an hour bus to get to Xitang. Xitang is just a little old town on a river, as if I haven’t seen enough of those, but it’s not in the lonely planet, so I was quite literally the only white person in the village. Luckily I have a Chinese person walking with me at all times, so it sort of puts people off asking to take pictures with me and just staring at me, which is nice. Once we got off the bus, the weather was torrential, so we quickly found a hotel next to the river and dropped our stuff on and dried off. There wasn’t really much we could do in this weather, so after having something to eat, we just sat watching TV in the room and went to bed relatively early.

Day 147 – Monday 18th June

Got up very late today, I really needed a long sleep, not only that but every minute asleep means one less spent listening to her (sorry that’s a bit harsh, I retract that!). Luckily the weather wasn’t as bad today, so after making it out of bed we went for a walk by the river, and sat down for some food in a really nice restaurant right on the water. Unfortunately, as his place is a complete tourist trap you get ripped off if you want to sit on the river, so after finishing our food we got our money’s worth and just sat there for a while talking. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned her naivety is driving me nuts, what started off being cute has now just turned into feeling like you’re babysitting a child. Just talking about the government and other topics which require some intelligence, she just says I don’t know, being ignorant is much better. Yes to an extent it is, but it means I can’t have a fucking conversation with you about your own country as you don’t know jack shit! Moving on… after leaving the restaurant we just walked around a bit, not a hell of a lot to see here, it’s just a fake old town on a river, and I’ve seen enough of them, and it’s just annoying that every other shop is some stupid tacky tourist shop which every Chinese person seems to think is the best thing ever (mine included) I don’t get how they can get excited about the most ridiculous things, not to mention how absolutely useless they are. For example, a toy pig which squeal when you squeeze it, those sort of things draw a crowd for Christ sake. The worst thing is that the trend here in China is that couples have to wear matching t-shirts, and if they’re really in love they’ll wear matching everything (including shoes) the whole thing just looks hilarious and makes me laugh whenever I see it. Guess who thinks it’s the best idea, as if I would ever wear matching t-shirts with you, all my dignity would go out the window, and I’m the bad guy for saying no, come on they’re absolutely retarded! The rest of the day was spent just milling about the river and seeing the nice lights at night. Not really much more to note, just had some food and got to bed early enough as we have to leave tomorrow.

Day 148 – Tuesday 19th June

Due to the late posting of this blog, I thought I’d give you guys an extra day to make up for it, sorry, just been very busy. So we got up and got packed this morning in order to check out and get the hell out of this hell hole (bit harsh) but I’m just so bored of having to force my way down a narrow street as there are just swarms of tourists. So after getting some breakfast where the staff literally sat around our table with us staring at me, and all took pictures with me, ah the price of fame, we got to the bus station. Didn’t have to wait too long before a bus to Shanghai turned up, after 20 minutes we stopped off at another place and a woman came on saying she needed to get this bus as she had to make a train and she would give someone her ticket for a bus in half an hour and pay 100 yuan to whoever offered. So we took her up on that and got off the bus. Unfortunately she only needed one ticket, so we should’ve really split up there and then (which would’ve suited me) but that was obviously out of the question, god forbid we don’t spend every second with each other! We got back on our way after about a 30 minute wait, and eventually made it to Shanghai, where the weather was no better. After picking up her ticket from the station (she bought it online) we headed back to the same hostel as before. After dropping off all our stuff, we went and got some dinner, where she reveals to me that she changed her ticket and she’s no longer leaving tomorrow, but actually the day after, brilliant! I deserve an Oscar for how I received the news, inside I wanted to pick up the table and throw it out the window, but I managed to keep my composure and pretend to actually be happy. After that bombshell, we went back to the hostel and spent the rest of the evening watching a film. I then stayed up till 3 to watch the England game, which on the surface definitely wasn’t worth it, but we qualified top of our group which is more than good enough for me. Eventually made it to bed around half 5, long day!

Posted by travellingjoe 00:33 Archived in China Comments (3)

Next stop Nanjing

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!

Posted by travellingjoe 18:19 Archived in China Comments (5)

Off to Shanghai, maybe...

Day 139 – Sunday 10th June

Got up at 5 today, not on purpose, but we had a little issue with the alarm going off at the wrong time! Unfortunately I couldn’t really get back to sleep so it was just a long 2 hour wait to when we were actually supposed to get up. Today we’re going to the dragon’s backbone rice terraces, I’ve wanted to go for so long now, there’s an amazing picture in the front of the lonely planet which I see pretty much every day, and now I’m finally on my way. We went to the bus station to try and make it there by public transport, but as with anything touristy in China, that’s no easy feat and the bus we wanted conveniently went from the other side of town, and due to the fact we would have to get there, then change buses and all that jazz it wasn’t worth the effort. So instead we paid a minibus driver to take us, well played China you win again! It took a good 2 and a half hours to make it, and after paying more than the entrance fee to the great wall just to get in, we eventually made it. We were in a bit of a rush due to the need for getting back around 4 to get a train, so we quickly headed up to the top to get the best views, and despite the horrendous humidity and the seemingly common occurrence now of arriving somewhere completely soaked, it was fucking awesome. The views were incredible, not sure if it really comes out in the pictures or not, but this is just a ridiculous feat of farming and something that is just nowhere else on the world on such a scale. Unfortunately after about 10 minutes the mist came down so fast and we couldn’t even see 10 metres in front of us anymore, let alone any of the rice terraces. Fucking typical! So we thought if it comes that quick it should go quickly enough so we just waited it out and eventually the view did come back, and the sun even came out, but by then we were on our way back down and it was the last thing we wanted. So we made it back down and hopped on our 2 O’clock bus back to Guilin. Once we got back, Adam rushed off for his train to Kunming and I went and had a shower in the hotel. I’m really having second doubts about going to Shanghai, don’t really know if I want to spend that long with this girl, and I just really don’t feel ready to get on a train at 7. So I check my emails, hoping for anything, and there it was, yesterday her boyfriend managed to pick up one of my messages, and he was flipping out, and she was like ‘call me asap, there might be a problem’ but I had no phone and she wasn’t online, so I just took the decision to cancel my train there and then. Once I cancelled my train I felt a massive sigh of relief, and headed to my new hostel for tonight, which was really nice. Once I got there I gave her a call, and guess what she was on the fucking train! Bollocks! So she’s stuck on a 27 hour train to Shanghai, and I won’t even be there so you can imagine how pissed she was. So I convinced her that it would all be alright and I would see her in another life. Then I sort of looked at a map of China and my only next logical step is Shanghai, and now that I’m not on the train, I sort of regret not getting it, and I feel properly sad for her. No idea what the hell to do, except buy a few beers and sleep on this.

Day 140 – Monday 11th June

Got up relatively early today, went to bed super late contemplating what my next step should be, then I couldn’t really sleep just thinking about it. So once I got up, I had a call from little bear and we worked out that I would just stay in Guilin for a bit and sort out my visa here, because I’ve heard it’s relatively easy and doesn’t take so long compared to Shanghai. That was good, didn’t really have to make a decision on what to do next, so I went down to the visa place paid a fortune to get passport photos, filled out all the forms and then they told me I needed to go to a police station and get a written note or some shit, then they closed for the day! After having to pay for a cab there and back, get the photos and be told that I was just like ‘fuck this’ I’m going to Shanghai. I can’t waste time sitting around for a visa here, I’ve got less than a week left on it, and knowing Chinese police I really didn’t want to get involved. So I went to the station and bought another ticket for Shanghai, exactly 24 hours after my original one was supposed to be! So the last day has been completely wasted, and it now means I will be on the train and miss the England came tonight, all this just told me I really should’ve gone to Shanghai in the first place. So I got on the buzzer to the woman and told her I was coming, and I’d meet her tomorrow at the station, and all would be well. I then sat back and spent the rest of the afternoon just waiting for my train, the weather here is shocking so I can’t really do much else unless I want to get soaked or struck by lightning. After a good few hours of procrastinating in the hostel I got on my way for my 20 hour train to Shanghai. As per usual I opted for a hard seat rather than anything more comfortable, in order to save those pennies. I seont the first few hours finishing off the moonstone, the book is by far the longest book I’ve ever read and it’s taken me ages to finish, but it was well worth it, I can really see why it’s such a classic. After that I watched a film, then around 2am I eventually fell asleep.

Day 141 – Tuesday 12th June

So after a 3 hour delay on the train, I eventually made it in to Shanghai at 4:30 this afternoon, feeling very worse for wear. My arse was in total agony, sitting down on those seats for so long is just downright painful! On top of that I really didn’t sleep and the train was hot and sweaty, so I just wanted to get to the hostel and have a shower and go to bed. On top of all this, I was still very unsure about what I was doing, I mean this girl is desperately in love with me and the feeling isn’t entirely mutual, on top of that she pretty much has an arranged marriage on the way with this boyfriend of hers and she’s missing her graduation being here. So if I do anything wrong, for example pull a runner, I would very much look like the bad guy! Anyway what could I do, I was here now, and there she was waiting for me on the platform all dressed up. We quickly rushed off to the hostel and after a ridiculously long check in due to the guy being completely incompetent, I finally got to the room to have a shower and the fucking thing wasn’t working!! After that disaster, we headed out for some really tasty dinner, and then came back to the hostel just to spend the evening relaxing, I was properly knackered from that train as you can imagine. Luckily in the room, the sky box on the TV has films on demand, and loads in English as well! So we sat back and watched Jerry Maguire, classic stuff, then I booked my flight to Bangkok, will be leaving from Macau (the place just next to Hong Kong owned by Portugal) on the 4th of July, can’t wait! So that gives me a good 3 weeks here in China, hopefully it’s not all spent with this girl as I think she would drive me insane eventually, time will tell. Gonna go and try and sort out this bloody visa extension tomorrow, but for now it’s time to hit the hay.

Posted by travellingjoe 00:11 Archived in China Comments (3)

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