Saturday evening one week ago I took my next night train from the old railway station in Shanghai. Hence, the Sunday morning I arrived in Huangshan. As I had plenty of time I bought my next train tickets, beside one for a 10 minutes train drive, I was able to purchase all. I headed to a hostel, as in this town I wasn’t able to found any CS’er. At the hostel there was already a letter for me. This contained the ticket of my cross border train I purchased with the help of Axel two days ago online, as it was impossible to buy this cross border train ticket at any railway station in mainland China. Axel did the payment with the help of Alipay for me, and I just gave him the money in cash. That train ticket itself is not really expensive, but the additional service charges and express shipment made it not a cheap one. But as I had already the bad experiences with my last border crossing from Russia, I opted for this one, just to make sure, that I can get out of mainland China within the time of my Visa.
Saturday morning one week ago the typhoon was gone and the weather was nice again. So I decided to take another tour through the city. First I headed to Xintiandi another district of the former French Concession. The Sinan mansions are some restored old but now luxurious houses, so nothing special. But the streets around with their maximum two storey buildings and trees at both sides of the streets have had some special Flair. In general I was a bit surprised about the attitude of the drivers in Shanghai, as compared to other cities or towns I’ve visited before, they mainly care about traffic lights and traffic rules. If you are visiting other places, you’ll discover that nobody, including pedestrian, care about the colour of traffic lights…yes they have also in China three colours red, yellow and green. But come on, I AM in a hurry, why should I take care of it. So everyone is just driving or walking, regardless of the colour of the traffic light. And then they are honking, no they are NOT wondering about it, when there is a jam on the junction. Yes, I got it, because THEY are in a hurry, but they DON’T get it, that there is a causal REASON for the traffic jam…you just drive when you want. So, just stop at the red light and the traffic would be more fluently, hence you don’t need to honk. Ah…this causal behaviour is too complex for you…OK, just drive and keep honking.
After the French Concession I went again to the Bund, but now approaching from the northern side. After crossing the Suzhou creek I strolled to the pedestrian side of the East Nanjing Road up to the People’s Garden. That seemed to me the main shopping area for all expensive stuff, but I’ve no idea, if it is worth to go there.
Two weeks ago the typhoon finally arrived at Shanghai and in the morning it heavily rained. Axel told me that he never experienced such a hard rain since he is staying in Shanghai. Well OK, that was a bit surprising for me. After waiting a few hours I decided to pack my small backpack and head to the boulder gym. Unfortunately I need about 15 minutes to the subway station, but with my rain jacket at least the body kept dry. As the streets were flooded and water flew out of the sewage water drain and pressed the cover of it to the street, my shoes got wet anyhow. As the rain won’t kill you, yes some locals don’t get it, there were not much people in the subway and also not in the boulder gym. It was not big, but as there were less than 10 people one could easily choose the route you want. They have a clear colour scheme, so that the routes are easily distinguishable. After some testing I found my colours and spent almost 3 hours there before I headed back my hosts place.
Alex told me already that there were lots of people coming in the evening, as he thought they were mainly travelling alone he accepted them, but in the 2nd they were travelling in groups. So there was a couple from Mexico/Columbia (I already knew, as they already arrived at noon), another one from Slovakia and 4 people from Poland (3 guys and one girl). Including me already 9 CS’ers. And Axel’s girlfriend returned from a business trip in the evening. He thought she will come one day later, but as it was Chinese valentines day, she expected to stay with him…and was a bit surprised about the amount of people in their flat 😄. Nevertheless, they decided to went to a hotel that night. After we went all to sleep in knocked at the door in the night, and I was a bit scared. But another traveller was infront of the door and asked “Couchsurfing” and even knew my name. So I was a bit surprised, that some foreigner in East China knew my name in the middle of the night. So I said, yes sure come in. And as our host was not at home it was my pleasure to introduce that guest. In the end we were 10 surfers in a two room flat. A bit packed but everything all right. Up until now I never had the situation, that the host sleeps outside and the surfers stay at their place. Nevertheless, it was a very nice experience.
Thursday two weeks ago Axel my host, another CS’er and me started an excursion to the city. When we were in the subway, there was a Typhoon warning on the screens. But Axel told us, that it’s just raining a bit more and that’s it. So we headed first to the Tianzifang which is part of the former French Concession. It’s a bit similar to the Hutong district in Beijing with the small aisles with shops and bars around. Afterwards we headed to the Yuyuan garden, but in order to get there we need to get through the Yuyuan bazaar. This one is quit crowded and especially loud again, as all the sellers have speakers, where they advertise their products…in Chinese. Hence, I don’t understand anything from that sound. Axel and me went into the garden, but the other CS’er just went on to meet at friend of him. Opposite to the bazaar, the garden, which is located pretty much in the city centre, is quit calm and silent. So we enjoyed this while strolling around. Contrary to European gardens with straight axis, the paths in Chinese gardens are just winding around several small ponds.
As it still was just afternoon we decided to drive with the subway out of the centre to Qibao water town. As we went there, we decided to have a break and get a coffee, because we thought, we have enough time. When we continued our walk, almost all shops are closed and the security said, we are no longer allowed to walk through the narrow aisles. Probably due to the Typhoon warning, and as they were afraid a similar accident could happen like just 4 days before at East Nanjing Road in Shanghai where three people were killed due to a falling sign. This is exactly the pedestrian way I took the day before 😲. Nevertheless, we headed back to the city centre in order to see the Bund again. Shortly before we arrived there it started heavily to rain. The advantage was that there were much less people than the day before, the disadvantage was, that we got really wet. So we looked for a shelter nearby for a couple of minutes.
In the evening Axel, his colleague Artem (he is from Belarus but also English teacher) and me went to a language exchange meeting. Shanghai is quit international with about 1 Mio. expats living in the city while officially 25 Mio. residents. After some time we went further on to the SOS club. As we didn’t catched a taxi we walked for 20 minutes in the rain, but as it wasn’t cold, it was not that big deal. As foreigner, with some light connections, you get free entry to the club and some free drinks. But as I don’t like Bacardi or similar stuff, I really opted just for orange juice. Additionally, the music was loud, I mean just load, and they were playing something like Deep House. So really not mine. I accepted to stay for about one hour until 1 am. The others didn’t liked it either, except the free drinks, so it was also OK for them to leave. Nevertheless, it was quit interesting how Chinese people partying. As most of them were just sitting around large tables. The main drinks are Champagne, Red Bull, and Jägermeister. When they have enough alcohol they stand up and “dance” on some platforms beside the tables…sorry, no you can’t call it dance. It’s maximum a movement, and probably even in off beat. Woman wear crazy stuff – I can’t describe, not just sub glasses – yeah, that’s absolutely cool, just start to freeze. In the end, somebody has to pay for it, mainly potentially rich men. But as they got drunken, they get a warmly treatment from the security…I guess that they don’t vomit in the main area, but still stay and for sure drink more and pay more. If you are a drunk young white women with no money, you just sit down in the lobby, vomit there and the cleaning women just takes care of you. Sorry, you don’t have money, you don’t get a special treatment. So in the end, it was quit an experience to visit such a location.
On the way home, the rain became already heavier, but it was still OK, we took a DiDi (the Chinese version of Uber). We were quit happy to be at home in less than half an hour. Because at the moment DiDi is no longer in operation in China, after the second murder of a passenger by a driver this year. Another (female) host told me already about the first murder, and that’s the reason why she is afraid and only takes official taxis.
Wednesday two weeks ago I went for some excursion in the Shanghai area. First I headed to the departure station of the Shanghai Transrapid with the subway. In the subway of Shanghai but also Beijing there is advertisement displayed at the windows between the stations. It seems that the tunnel is equipped with TV screens and the advertisement display is adapted to the speed of the subway.
With an electronic travel card for the subway, the ticket of the Transrapid is only 40 RMB to the Pudong airport. The embarking to the waggon itself feels a bit luxurious and the waggon itself is with 6 seats side-by-side and enough space for the legs, quit spacious. The driving experience is hence completely different to ordinary railways. The acceleration is smooth but the drive itself is neither calm not silent. You always feel like the control software needs to make small correction. The maximum driving speed, as I was in a not so busy time frame, is the same as with ordinary high-speed trains in China, like between Harbin and Shenyang. So it’s a quit nice technology and experience, but maybe no economic reason to really have this rolled out massively.
On my way back I just took the ordinary subway, and already got out at the “Haitiansan Road” subway station, as I wanted to make a short walk to the shore. The sun was out and about, so the temperature exceeded far more than 30°C. At the first spot I headed to, there were construction works ongoing, so I needed to go slightly back and further on. I climbed over a wall (there was no sign, that it was forbidden) and bypassed a golf club. Luckily at the end of that road, the gate was open, but the security didn’t let me go to the shore. So I headed further north and bypassed a new built real estate area for pretty rich people, before I got to a small harbour and a natural side. But also this was closed and security officers put me back. Well on my way I saw people at the other side of the harbour at the shore line, so I was now heading that way. After climbing over a fence I came few minutes later to another one. But here some locals already passed this one and I thought, OK, if they can pass, I can do this too. So finally I was at a new section of the flooding protection and after walking for more than 2 hours I reached the mouth of the Yangtze river at this position. The mouth is quit wide and you could hardly see the other side or the islands in between. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the view after this adventurous and a bit exhausting walk, before I returned to the city.
As it was already after sunset when I was back, I headed to the Bund. I was by far not alone with this idea. So the pedestrian way was just packed and even at the Bund itself people are pushing to the handrail to make dozens of pictures. I was also pushing a bit to enjoy the view in the first row and make some pictures for my self. Quit impressive the illumination at night of the Pudong side of the Huangpu River. When walking as Western tourist there alone, it might be, that young women are trying to start a communication with you. But be careful, not to end up in a tea ceremony and pay for it a 4 digit amount of RMB. So my host in Shanghai but also in Beijing have already warned me about that topic.