So, time to leave Tokyo, start on the Malaria tablets (eech) and head over to China. It’s been a bit of a trouble getting a visa, out of all my stops this is the only place I needed to get one up front. Going to the consulate in Edinburgh – who like all Chinese consulates are only open 9-12, Monday till Friday – I was turned away and had to make three visits to the Melbourne consulate. Visa sorted (and £25 lighter) I was ready to enter and prepared for the worse.
After a nice empty flight, with video on demand (I watched Bucket List and a bit of Blueberry Nights) I walked into another empty airport (just like Tokyo) and customs barely asked a question, straight though. I haven’t been buying my guide books for most cities, but decided I need them for Asia – but don’t want to buy upfront as my bag is seriously heavy already. I got the feeling that once I hit the city, finding an English book will be hard so found the shop in the airport and picked up Lonely Planet Encounter: Shanghai, these books are perfect – to the point, shows the basics, compact and comes with maps… sold. On the way there and back I was pestered by folk trying to get me hotels and taxi’s – have a cold shoulder…. On the way outside I got stopped once again, he helped me find my hostel on the map, tried to sell me a hostel (said I’d paid) and then tried to sell me one of those free maps – he’s not noticed that I’m a) a backpacker and b) Scottish – your getting hee haw mate. He really did me a favour by writing the hostels address in Chinese on my paper, this would prove to be essential later on and pointed me to the shuttle bus.
After Tokyo, I was expecting another large city, metropolitan and more of the same – I got on the bus, feeling a little unsafe but happy enough to be here. Travelling though the city I soon realised (as the Lonely Planet guide advised) English was uncommon so be prepared. The conversation at the many stops I made around the train station gave me an idea, I’m in China, they don’t know English, I don’t know Chinese, this is going to be intresting.
After many a pointing, struggling and pushing (manures haven’t reached China yet) I had a ticket for what I think is the right metro and was heading on the way. Getting off at my stop, I slowly crossed the street – a green on the pedestrian crossing is more a suggestion for the traffic to stop, a suggestion they like to ignore. The sight of hundreds of mopeds flying down the street, vendors selling everything from sunglasses, to socks and pirate dvds – I felt I was in Bangkok more than Shanghai.
The sight of the hostel was like an Oasis in the desert, very modern, clean and friendly. A large bar area with Projector for movie, free wifi, cheap food and beer just set it in my good books.
First impressions are good, things a stupidly cheap… Bottle of water, 14p. Bottle of Coke Zero (pictured), 31p. Five course dinner, including steak and a beer – £12 (that was splashing out).