21.09.2010 - 24.09.2010
One of the highlights of Shanghai was the journey there. Despite being warned by Nick and Andrea about traveling by night bus we figured it couldn't be THAT bad. And it wasn't. It was simply one of the most insane journeys that we have encountered on our trip to date. Fortunately we got on where the bus started but the journey still began with some drama; the conductor man tried shifting two girls from there beds and moving them to our seats. This we would have been fine with if it wasn't for the fact these two beds were the top bunks right at the back of the bus which also happened to be next to the toilet. Considering how much normal toilets smell in China we could only despair at what a bus one would be like...!!!
So after some persistence we managed to get our beds. This meant that Kristian was on the top bunk behind me and I was on the bottom one in front. I didn't last here for very long though because about 50 minutes into the journey the lady in the bed next to me started vomiting into a plastic bag (at a time when the bus was stopped and there were no extra people in the aisles) and then proceeded to sit and hold the bag!! I wasn't very impressed with this so jumped up onto the bed in front of Kristian which happened to be the only other free bed on the bus. I sure was glad that I did this!! In traditional Asian fashion the bus stopped every kilometer to pick people up from the side of the road; we kept thinking that they couldn't possibly get anyone else onto the bus but then another 5 people would get on!! In the end there were people all sitting through the aisles incredibly cramped with at least 65 people on this 35 bed bus! I wouldn't have fancied being them for the 12 hour journey! It was a good job the vomiting lady had more plastic bags because there was no way she'd be getting anywhere near the toilet! Kristian awoke in the morning to a man standing over him looking out the window obviously stretching his aching legs.
Eventually we got to Shanghai and strangely had to have our bags scanned when we got off the bus in order to walk onto the street; we'd already had them scanned just before getting on the bus! Fortunately we were right next to a Metro station so we made our journey out to our couchsurfing hosts who lived out in the suburbs. Our sim card wouldn't work because we'd foolishly bought a Qingdao city one so we wound up sitting outside their door (they didn't answer when we knocked) waiting patiently to appear. Means we gave Wes a bit of a shock when he opened the door to put the rubbish out! Once we bought a working Sim we were on our way back into Shanghai to see the sights.
It as SO GOOD to be in a busy city. Shanghai was the first place we have visited on our travels which reminded us of London in anyway and it sure felt good. The crowds were surging on it's most popular shopping street and we just wandered around mesmerized by everyone. The Chinese tourists are unlike any other sort of tourists. We went down to the Bund for a walk along it and just loved it! It was so cool with the old style architecture along there and then the modern day, futuristic city of Pudong on the other side of the water. Such a good juxtaposition. We decided to be real tourists and so took the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel over to Pudong. This was some seriously weird method of transport. It is basically some extravagant light show in a tunnel objectifying things like paradise, hell, molten lava, shooting stars, fish in the ocean. Really a rather surreal experience.
Once at the other side we walked around the strange pedestrian roundabout before heading to the two biggest buildings in China in order to feel miniature! We didn't want to pay to go up it neither did we want to spend $15 each in the bar so we looked out the window of the lift; it was a really cloudy, miserable, rainy day so it wouldn't have been worth the money! None the less the view from our little window was still spectacular. We went next door to the biggest building which looks like a massive bottle opener! Its size sure is impressive at 480m or so and we stood at the bottom feeling like ants, completely in awe. By now it was really rainy so we popped into a mall in order to continue our search for a new bag. We left empty handed, tired and it was raining even more so we went back into the weird tunnel thing. Back on the old side we chilled out with a hot chocolate and figured out what we were going to do with our time in China.
Then we were off to use the internet before trying (and failing) to buy a ticket to Hangzhuo; the office had shut two hours earlier. Oops. It was therefore time to stop being antisocial and head back to the suburbs where our hosts were having an indoor bbq. Everyone was on the drunk side of tipsy and we were understandably tired so excused ourselves to bed around midnight. I think that we had both just dropped off to sleep when a commotion began outside with the very weird and very drunk American girl called Echo. What sort of name is that?! We stayed out of the way until she had left (well had been taken home) before getting up to see if there was anything we could do. The drunk girl's child had been left there (a two year old girl called Lark) and when she and the baby woke up Coryn was left trying to juggle the two of them. I stepped in to help get Lark back to sleep which wasn't too hard. Then finally it was time for us to get some well earned rest on our playroom floor!
We awoke far too early felling nowhere near rested. We had tickets to go to the Expo but first we had to buy these train tickets to leave Shanghai. The man only seemed willing to sell us tickets for 7.50am so it looked like it was going to be another early start! After getting a bus to Expo we finally got there about 12ish. It was so cool! Yes there were a lot of people and there were some insanely long queues but the atmosphere was really good. Fortunately we got to queue jump at the British one with our passports so that saved us 4 hours! It was one of the visually more impressive with all its fibre optic spikes and was certainly focused on greenery/eco stuff which we thought was good for the Chinese considering their pollution issues. We have since heard that due to Expo not only have the factories around Shanghai been turned off but you are only allowed to drive your car on certain days depending on the numbers in your number plate to limit the pollution. Isn't that insane?! Anyways each of the spikes in the British one had a different seed in it and all in all it was a good concept but I feel I would have been disappointed had I waited four hours for it! From here we queued for Ireland which meant we are now planning a holiday there!
From this point forward we chose countries with little or no queue including Brunei (where K got really excited for some weird reason) and Cambodia where they had built parts of Angkor Wat and were of course selling things! A real highlight of the day was Afghanistan's pavilion - it made us really want to go there! Shame about these wars...! We both made friends with the passport stampers in Sri Lanka as we shared knowing smiles with the Chinese's inability to queue. It must be really infuriating to be working there. There was a ridiculously long queue for Irag - like at least an hour - but we got into North Korea's quite speedily at least. Here we stood in awe of the videos of the Mass Games which really do look quite spectacular.
We tried to have dinner at Latinos which despite it's name only served Chinese food! After a rather disappointing and average dinner we were devastated to discover the Mexican pavilion had a restaurant inside! Mexico and Chile were the last two we visited but were definitely among the best. We really wished that we could have seen more but we really needed to go home and rest our weary heads/worn out feet!