Continue Sunday 20th September
Left the ferry about 11ish and joined the crowd while getting the bus to the area where we had our passports checked etc, it was in a tunnel area and when we got out the other side, it was like being let out of prison, very odd.
We all walked together to the nearest Bank of China to exchange cash etc, David in the group knew where the bank was, so it was only logical to go there first. Then we parted ways and decided to arrange to meet later.
Ad and I decided to walk to hostel with Joe, David and Jas as they seemed to know where to go and said it would not take too long, as we had no idea where we were going, it seemed like the smartest move and we like to walk anyway, you get to see more of the area that way.
My first impressions were not good to be honest, there was construction work going on around every corner, the Bund that was supposed to be a gorgeous waterfront section and one of the biggest attractions was shut for construction. Every 5 seconds people were spitting and cars, bikes, vans, buses were everywhere, you had to dodge traffic in every direction, not only that, the motorbikes also rode on the pavements, so they would beep at you to get out the way every few minutes, it felt like you couldn't walk anywhere, was a little hard to master after beeing in such a well organised country.
Luckily the walk to the hostel was not too far, but whilst walking down the road to our hostel, shop owners were washing bowls etc in the street and cleaning teeth etc, it was how you would have expected the times to be years and years ago, was very odd and not what I expected.
Settled into the hostel ok, a little dirty compared to those we were lucky enough to stay in, in Japan, but perfectly ok, just need to adjust to China ways. Our room did not have any windows, but the beds were comfortable and clean. After a short stint on the web, Joe came down and we decided to walk to People's square together, where we had arranged to meet the rest of the group for the afternoon.
Kevin was there waiting and the rest of the group turned up about 2mins later. Cliffe never came, we waiting for an extra 15mins or so but no show. Kevin sorted cabs out for us all and took us to the Old Town, where they do the best dumplings around "Kevin wasn't wrong" they were amazing, should have known really, as the queue for them was about 20mins or so, but my goodness they just melted in your mouth, the best meat dumplings ever.
The old town was really nice, got a feeling it had all been done up for tourists, but it gave us a slight reflection of how China used to be. Was very busy, being the weekend and all, but well worth a visit. Had a good look around and took plenty of pics. Thought about getting a cab, til we saw a crazy chinese guy with a whistle shouting at all the cab drivers and shoving people in them, we opted to walk te he.
Found a nice park and decided to chill there for a bit, although I popped to the loo in the park grounds and when I came out, they had all vanished. Hoped they were still in the park and have to admit a wee bit surprised that Ad didn't notice I was gone, but he was chatting to one of the guys and noticed a few minutes later, luckily a few of them came back to find me PHEW!!!
Could see the sky scrapers from where we were, 3 of these you can go up into and look at the views of Shanghai, so after sitting around for a bit, we all agreed to take a wonder in their direction, by time we would get there it would be night time and perfect to see Shanghai all lit up. However, after about 30mins or so of walking we were no closer and Kevin asked for directions and was told we were going in the wrong direction. Ended up catching the bus back to People's Square and having a wonder. The park is actually really nice. Some of the lads went to a close ish supermarket and bought everyone beer and we relaxed in the park, with the biggest beers I had ever seen, but they were sooooooo cheap - can't ask for more really ay.
Feeling a wee bit tipsy and talking full speed to the only other girl there Cheyne, who luckily seemed just as tipsy, we decided to go for dinner. Kevin guided us to a local street full of restaurants and we found a nice one with a huge table, which comfortable fitted us all around it. We gave Kevin some ideas of the foods we liked and he ordered about 9 dishes, rice each and beer for all. WOW what a meal, delicious food, plenty to go around, we had Rabbit, Fish, Chicken, Peanut, Veggies etc the whole shubang, was gorgeous and as it was sooooooo cheap, we didn't let the state of the toilets put us off the place, although I have to say, possibly the worst toilets I have ever been unfortunate to go near.
Was a wicked night and we all had a real giggle. Thanked Kevin for being so great at showing us all around, still think he should have had a flag, he did a great job. As it was quite late now we all parted from People's Square and had emails etc for meeting up again soon.
Back at the hostel I went on web for bit, while Ad joined Joe for a beer and spoke to some people playing pool, one guy who was one of our room mates Teddy, nice guy, he's from Sweden, spoke really good english - kinda embarrased when we can barely speak any other language, have decided to learn a language as fluent as possible before I'm 30, should be interesting.
I joined the guys and felt even more tipsy after some more beer, def time for bed te he.
Monday 21st September
Got up quite late as there was no sunlight to wake us up, we had no idea what the time was and frankly we didn't care te he. What a horrible day outside, raining, dark grey sky, not worth going out really, but we thought about things to do that were inside.
As we wondered along the road, we stumbled across a hairdressers and thought WHY NOT, enquired about prices and seemed very cheap compared to home and Japan, in we went. I had a picture of the style I wanted and Ad just wanted a tidy cut. WOW!!! Approximately 4 hours later, with no breakfast I was done A NEW WOMAN, I have to admit, it was really nice having short hair again, it's been a while. He worked very hard on it and I even got a head massage, was very pleased with the result, but a little sour when he decided to add other things to the original price and it turned out to be roughly the same price as at home NOT IMPRESSED, but he did a fab job and really took pride in it, so didn't feel so bad.
Sooooooooooooo hungry, found a nice little cheap place, got ourselves a nice noodle soup and some spring rolls LOVELY.
What to do now ....................... still raining, nothing better to do then go to the Shanghai museum which is said to be one of the best attractions here and unlike other museums, wizzed across Peoples Square as it was getting late, got there just as they stopped letting people in NOOOOOOO (it had nothing to do with the time I spent eating Cheese cake on the way, I promise) - Now what do we do, a lovely chinese couple came over to chat to us, they were asking where we were from etc, really sweet people. They were just off to buy tickets for an acrobatics show on tonight, apparently worth seeing, so we joined them, they showed us where to buy the best tickets at a reasonable price, was nice of them. Arranged to see them at the show later and went for a wonder around the local shops.
Took our time finding the theatre but got there early enough, was a nice place, just grabbed some popcorn and waited in the lobby area. No sign of the young couple we had met earlier, but we were chuffed to have some of the best seats in the house, they had a wicked view. An absolutely breathtaking show, just when you thought it couldn't get any more impressive they just wowed you with yet another amazing acrobatic scene, it was out of this world amazing, how they do the things they do is beyoned me. It included motorcycles in a cage, hoops, chair balancing, bicycles, flying through the air, all kinds of brilliant things. I was amazed from start to finish. At the end we managed to get a pic with some of the acrobats and I was chuffed to have one with the youngest girl in the show, she was adorable.
Well I felt knackered after watching them te he, time for bed indeed.
Tuesday 22nd September
Was a bit of a slow start today, got up late cos once again no light in the room. Spent ages checking the web to see where we wanted to move on to and sorting out hostel etc. We needed to buy train tickets at a ticket office down the road, but when we passed it was like an auction, loads of people all over the place shouting and wandering from queue to queue, but they don't actually queue here, just appear to and then barge at last minute.
We opted for some brunch first to prepare us for the barging. Yummy rice with beef and veg, actually very tasty, so nice to find a restaurant with english writing on the menu, really helps, but I guess we should try and learn some chinese whilst here. Anyway the brunch was big and only cost about 2 pound between us EXCELLENT!!
Now for the barging arhhhhhh!!!! I got really scared as I decided to save a place in the queue while Ad wizzed back to the hostel to get them to write in Chinese for us "2 tickets to Hangzhou" and "two tickets to Beijing" on a different date. Some guy was behind me but very sneekily and annoyingly nudging me back with his sholder, of course I held my own but was getting dangerously near the front and Ad wasn't back yet, thank goodness he arrived just in the nick of time and turned up with the note as I got to the desk PHEWW! We managed to get our tickets to Hangzhou, but she just kept saying NO! for the tickets to Beijing. Back to hostel to try and find an explanation for the NO! turned out because of the national holiday due on OCT 1st there were no more train tickets available for Beijing, so we had to fly, not too bad, cost about 50 pounds each so not too bad, to be honest the train was not much cheaper anyway.
Time was getting on so we wizzed through town again and finally got to the museum just in the nick of time, it was crazy, ran to the exit by mistake and the guard made us run around the building, the doors were just closing for the last people in and we managed to run in - this is CRAZY, but I'm gonna get fit te he. We did well, only had an hour to look around it, we saw old coins, notes, some paintings, pottery, furniture etc was a really nice place actually - as far as museums go anyway, plus it was free, always good.
Had arranged to meet with Cheyne and Scott from the ferry, so we sat on the subway floor for a few minutes, people was constantly staring at us, think they thought we were beggers te he, didn't get any dosh tho DAMM - was funny, one of the guys from our hostel saw us and offered us money whilst laughing, we chatted to him for bit til they arrived, nice guy.
All headed to the "Bund" which is a bit like the Embankment in London, but with more restaurants, sky scrapers etc, really lovely area. One side was under construction but the otherside had just as nice views of the riverside, it was gorgeous, the boats were all lit up as well, such a nice place. Chilled there for a while, then went on a mission to find a nice but cheap place to eat. Crazy, just seemed to find the most expensive areas, took ages and then we finally came across some street food, probably the dodgiest place I have ever eaten at, but tasted delicious, just hope it stays down mmmmmmm NICE THOUGHT.
Us girls were in real need of something sweet now, so we headed back to people's square on the look out for ice cream, ended up getting a Choc sundae each in McDonalds YUMMY!! Was actually a perfect desert, we all sat chatting for ages, good job it's a 24hr Maccie D's, was really nice to spend time with them both, they are great company. Probably left about 12ish and headed back to the hostel, was surprised to still see loads of people out with street food NICE!! was full now tho so went back for bed.
Continue on Sat 26th September
Wasn't sitting next to Ad on the train back from Suzhou, but it was fine, only a few hours ride, so no biggy. I won 4000 pound on my ipod quiz questions, very proud of myself te he. Was kinda nice being back at People's Square, which I never thought I would say, but I think it was because we it was familiar maybe.
Found the hostel no problem, it wasn't where I origionally thought but was still really close to the square, so nice and easy for us tomorrow. The outside of the hostel didn't look very nice at all, but once inside it was lovely and we were pleasantly surprised to have a bathroom in our dorm room, it was GREAT!!
Chatted for a bit with a french guy that was also staying in the dorm, he didn't seem too impressed with Shanghai but then he did have to work there as well, poor thing. We were chatting about the festival etc, not sure what to expect when we get there, bit concerning when he told us, the goverment are advising that everyone stay inside for it, we shall see.
Spent some time in the bar as we were too tired to go out, just played some pool, went on web for bit and then chilled with a pizza, was nice to chill for a bit.
Sunday 27th September
Up at 05:30 nooooooooooooo so tiring, but had to be up and gone quick for our flight. Ad grabbed a couple of dumplings from a street stall for brekky, but I couldn't stomach it, so got some muffins mmmmmm tasty.
Ad was quick to mention our flight ref when getting a train ticket and it meant we got 20% off, nice one Ad. Took time out while waiting for train on platform to put cream on my many many bites OH SO ITCHY, nasty little nats not nice. A couple of not so long train journeys and we arrived at the airport.
Was quick getting to airport and getting through checking in, was on the plane in no time. We fell asleep almost instantly and were both surprised an hour later to find out that we had not taken off yet. No worries, we fell straight back to sleep again, too funny. The only thing that stirred us was the food coming around and that consisted of Green egg and gue NOT SO TASTY, but the curry dumpling they gave us was mmmm ok.
I could not believe the speed of the passengers when the seat belt sign went off, anyone would have thought a fire had broken out on the plane, they were out of their seat, up getting their bags and ready to go in seconds, I thought there might have been a price for the first one off. SHOCKING!! We are now in Beijing, move to the Beijing section.