Let’s get right into it shall we?
Shanghai Part 2: Day 4
On what was supposed to be the day we left Shanghai, we left the hostel around 8:30. Taking a taxi to the train station took about 45 minutes, as I knew it would, so we arrived around 9:15. My friend and I went to find the correct ticket window because it can’t just be any ticket window, it has to be a specific one, of course. After we made it to the window we were able to change my ticket to the next day, and we got 7 yuan back because the ticket was cheaper. Well huzzah! We then went in search of coffee. When we finally got our hands on some it was pretty terrible, but when you had very, very little sleep the night before just the smell of coffee is something. After a bit, my friend and the other teacher left to get into line at their train platform. Here in China you have to wait outside the platform until about 10 or 15 minutes before the train is scheduled to depart. Then it is a mad dash to the train. So they went off and I was left to guard my phone as it charged at one of the charging stations. Why did I need to use a charging station? Well I thought for sure my brand spankin’ new smart phone would last more than three days, especially when I have a grand total of 5 contacts in it and hardly ever use it. But noooooo! I miss my old non-smart phone that lasted for a week! This one wont even last me 3 measly days in Shanghai. Ok, I should probably stop blaming the phone and just take the blame for not bringing my phone charger with me as I should have. Regardless of whose fault it was, I was charging my phone before leaving to go back to the city to meet up with my new friends. The subway to get back into the city took about an hour, so I hunkered down with my big ol’ duffel bag and waited. Even in Shanghai where there are many more foreigners than Hangzhou, I still felt the stares and occasional “covert” photos being taken of me. So I tried to look as pretty as I could on two hours of sleep. You have to look good for the paparazzi! I don’t think I managed very well.
I met the fantastic four at the subway stop by their hostel, and I went to get all situated in the room. If you have never stayed in a hostel before. There are normally two types of rooms; private and dorm style. Private rooms are only you and whomever you are traveling with. Dorms are usually rooms with three or more bunk beds, and you just rent the beds. Normally, unless you are traveling with enough people to fill the room, you will have people you don’t know in the room. I usually stay in a private because I am almost always traveling with someone who has never stayed in a hostel before, but I sorta prefer dorm rooms. You meet more people that way! So I just jumped into the unused bed in the fantastic four’s dorm room. Not literally, since it was a top bunk. I can’t jump that high.
I walked to a nearby modern art museum with one of the boys while the rest finished up lunch. We talked about what the giant slipper hanging from the ceiling might mean and how the dismembered mannequins spoke to us. It was very enlightening.
After rejoining the rest of the gents we went by subway to the Yu Garden. It was a beautiful place and basically a maze. We lost everyone at some point, but it is definitely worth going to if you are ever in Shanghai!
After managing to regroup we walked around outside of the garden where there were lots of little shops and food stalls. I bought a big soup dumpling, and this one was much easier to eat because they stick a straw into the middle of it! Mmm street food. We hopped back on the subway after this and went to find the Jade Buddha Temple. We never got there because our main navigator took us to the wrong street. For which we ridiculed him mercilessly, as per protocol. Never mind that he got us everywhere else just fine! We did end up, however, right by the Chinese Propaganda Poster museum. So we went there instead. It was very randomly located in the basement of an apartment building, but it was actually really cool! Not a lot of Chinese, American and British love happening in those posters though, you would think there was some weird feelings between our countries or something…
We then went to a tiny, hippie bar we past on the way to the museum. So nice to be with people who like to drink as much as I do. The name of the bar was the Free Soul Bar, and the slogan was Free your mind, and your ass will follow. It was happy hour and that made five little happy campers out of us. It was such a cute little bar with mismatched furniture and tapestries covering the walls that would make any college student envious.
It was back to the hostel after the bar to get ready for that evening. We were planning on brewery number two! In an ode to America, we stopped by a McDonald’s on the way to our hostel for dinner. I rarely eat McDonald’s, usually back home it was only hangover food. I know that sounds bad, but seriously the next time you are hungover go to McDonald’s, get a happy meal and the largest sweet tea they offer. You can thank me later. So we scarfed some McDonald’s (tastes the same as in American, weird), and then headed back out by taxi to our second brewery. This time it was the Shanghai Brewery.
When the taxi dropped us off it was no where in site, and we thought for sure we were lost again. But after pouting at a nearby bar for a Jameson or two, (what you don’t count time in drinks? Huh, just me then..) our navigator came back to tell us that he had found it. We all happily scampered off and it turned out to be right down the street. This brewery, I am sad to say, was not as purely awesome as the Boxing Cat Brewery was. The beers didn’t really taste like much and the service definitely left us wanting. I am also the LAST person to complain about service anywhere. I have worked as a waitress/cashier/cook/buffet worker on and off, mostly on, since I was 16. So I understand the food industry better than most. I also know that the type of service you get in China is very different from the kind that you get in America, but even still I was unimpressed. Needless to say, we didn’t stay at the Shanghai Brewery for very long. We continued on down the street and found that it was quite alive and kicking. There were lots of bars and restaurants to choose from, and we settled on a little Mexican bar that was blaring music and was packed inside. Mexican bar in Shanghai? Why not!
It was called Mexico Lindo and they make some mean salsa there. Which we discovered later in the night when the owner, an older gentleman from Texas, gave us some on the house! I can’t vouch for the rest of their food, but if it is anything like their margaritas and salsa, I say Mexico Lindo is a winner in my book. There was such an odd mix of people in the bar as well (Americans, Englishmen, Chinese, Portuguese, and I think some Jamaicans, also a baby) that it made for an awesome atmosphere. Especially because they were all going up to sing with the band, and just having a darn tootin’ good time! I was going for Texan there, don’t judge me. We stayed there until the end of the night, when the group split up to pursue our individual areas of interest. Thus ends day 4 in Shanghai!
It was a very different morning than those that I had earlier in the trip. We woke up slow and got ready even slower. Just the kind of morning you should have on a vacation. Our first stop today was to a little street called YongKang Road. I don’t think it is a very big tourist attraction, but I loved it. It was like stepping suddenly into Europe. There were tons of little restaurants and bars, fish and chips were boasted on almost every sign, there were people drinking at noon and there were little Vespas everywhere. I was in heaven! Let me take this time to admit to you that I have this very romantic day dream of living somewhere in western Europe someday and zipping around on my own baby blue Vespa with a billowy scarf trailing out behind me. Come on you can’t tell me that that wouldn’t be fabulous! I would also be wearing Italian heels, of course, and going to meet my suave (insert sexy nationality) boyfriend for a café and croissant. Don’t go trying to steal my fantasy now! I’m watching you! So anyway! We ended up at the Sailors Fish & Chips restaurant. I want to tell you how good the fish and chips were, but I don’t actually think that I could put it into words. Washed down with a cold cider and good company, I seriously doubt it could have been better. Here is a picture so you can drool a little before moving on.
After lunch the group split ways a bit, with the Americans (excluding myself) going back to the hostel to nap and the Brits (and me!) journeying to a little village on the outskirts of Shanghai. It was still part of Shanghai because Shanghai is massive, but it is called Thames Town and it is modeled after an English town. So naturally the English gents wanted to go and have a jolly good time! I was going for British that time, if you couldn’t tell. It took forever to get there on the subway (try over 15 stops), but get there we did! We spent most of the afternoon there taking lots of pictures and climbing on many a thing. We were unfortunately unable to find the statue of Harry Potter or Shakespeare, but we did find Bond, James Bond and whoever that is in the picture below. Smooches! When dark fell we started on the long trek back into the city.
Once there, we regrouped and went in search of a night market. We found a small one, but quickly realized that Shanghai isn’t known for its night markets. We left soon after and took a cab to the other side of the river where all of the observation (aka really, really tall) buildings are. We took a speedy, ear popping elevator ride to the 88th floor of the Jinmao Observatory. The view at the top was pretty spectacular. Shanghai at night is a sea of twinkling lights as far as you can see.
We were planning on visiting a third brewery that night, but decided that we liked the Boxing Cat Brewery too much to not go one more time. This time we all got food and it was just as good as the beers were. I got chicken and waffles and a pumpkin ale. Chicken and waffles and a pumpkin ale in Shanghai. So random, so happy. As I sit here and write this I am truthfully drooling a bit just thinking about the juicy chicken and the fluffy waffles. Well great, there I went and made myself hungry. Perfect. I only have instant noodles and Goldfish crackers in my room, and while Goldfish crackers are delicious and i’m pretty stoked that I found some here, it isn’t going to hold up to chicken and waffles.
We ended the night pretty early because two of the guys had to catch an early flight home the next day. So thus ends day 5 in Shanghai.
Day 6: (sorta)
The two remaining guys and I had another slow morning, and I cannot vouch for what they did with their day because we parted ways at the subway station near the hostel. I took another long subway ride back to the train station, where I bought a new ticket all by myself! Unfortunately I couldn’t change my ticket again, so I just had to buy a new ticket. Was it worth 77 yuan to stay an extra two days in Shanghai? Yes. Definitely yes. I was supposed to meet friends back in Hangzhou around 4:30, but the earliest train I could get a ticket on was the 5:30 train. Oops. Rain check? I snagged a seat near my platform and waited the two hours until my train left. Know that when I say snagged I am not joking. People watch the seats like hawks and as soon as someone gets up it is a fight to get there first. To make a long journey short, I arrived home in one piece around 7, and thus ends my Shanghai trip!
I hope you enjoyed reading about this trip. I know that I enjoyed taking it, and I can’t wait until my next adventure. Hopefully, these posts weren’t too obnoxiously long and you didn’t run out of drinks halfway through. I saw lots of great things in Shanghai, and i’m sure there are many more things and people to see and do there. I highly recommend a trip there if you are ever in China. I look forward to going again, if only just for the Boxing Cat Brewery and all the delicious edibles they have to offer. I met some pretty great people there as well! Even though we live pretty far apart, not only in China but also in our home countries, I’d like to think maybe i’ll see them all again someday!
Happy travels everyone, and don’t ever stop exploring!