The first time I visited Shanghai I didn’t like it. The second time I started to find some of its charm. The third time I fell in love. I was excited for one last adventure in Shanghai, a city that I had grown to love.
I decided to come on a Friday as I wanted to wake up in Shanghai and be to ready to explore. I got my ticket at the train station and it was a later time than the one I wanted but I didn’t have enough Mandarin skills or internet connection to try to get a new one. Well, that train was over an hour late. When I got to Shanghai I got the fried dumplings and tall vanilla latte I wanted but it wasn’t the relaxing and rejuvenating experience I dreamed of all week. It was stressed and rushed as the shops were closing and I wanted to get to my hostel at a reasonable hour before the metro lines closed. My warm welcome to Shanghai was people swarming like locust trying to get a seat on the train. I got to my hostel, unpacked, and tried to sleep but the man on the bottom bunk was snoring unreasonably loud. But my wifi connect was strong and stable.
I woke up in an area of Shanghai that I had never been before. It wasn’t as charming as the tree lined streets I stayed at last time but it had multiple Starbucks that were open at 7am. I enjoyed my latte in the calm morning while the locals bought vegetables, ate breakfast, and rode their motorbikes. I took the 7 line till the end to explore Luodian, a Swedish inspired town. I got lost, ate some delicious fried bread, and explored Scandinavia in Shanghai.
I was exhausted after a sleepless night full of the stranger’s snores and a early morning of exploring so I took a much needed nap in my quiet hostel room. I woke up hungry and decided to go back the noodle shop I was shown my first night in Shanghai. I knew I could get a cheap and filling meal (cheaper than any fast food restaurant!). The last time I was there I had pork noodles and I wanted to try their beef noodles. The best beef noodles or “niu rou mien” I have had are in a small little shop in Chuzhou. Nothing can compare to them but I wanted to see this noodle shop’s take on them. I ordered and sat and waited. They brought noodles to me but they look slightly different but every shop’s style is unique. I was ready. As I was about to take my first bite they took the bowl away from me. They gave me the wrong order. Whatever it was it was tasted and smelled delicious. The beef noodles were better than others I have tried but still not as good as my beloved shop in Chuzhou.
After I I decided I wanted to take a picture of The Bund at night. I would go to Nanjing Road and walk to the The Bund. Nanjing Road is like Times Square but as the name suggest, it is a road not a square. They have these cheap trains you can take and I decided to take one. Instead of dealing with walking in the madness I could just enjoy it sitting down and people watch. I wasn’t able to take pictures because of the movement but it allowed me to just enjoy the moment: riding this silly train on Nanjing Road with a million other tourists.
I continued walking and when I saw the Oriental Pearl Tower I had a giddy smile. I was just so happy to be in Shanghai and was taking it all in. It was my first time taking photos of The Bund at night with my new camera. I am pretty happy with what I got.
I had made my trip to Shanghai “public” on Couchsurfing so I had numerous people contact me. I actually met up with someone and it was probably one of the best decisions I ever made. I should of done it sooner. First they showed me a ferry that crossed the river and since it was the way locals travel it was only two yuan! (though they paid for me). I was on the “other side” and it was great to see all the modern buildings close up and from a very different angle. After seeing fake European architecture it was nice to see something completely different. (After editing these I am actually really happy with them!)
My new friend knew of a restaurant that had a great view so I followed his lead. Let’s just say getting there was like a secret maze. It was like I was in a movie of sorts. I would of worried about being murdered but it was way too nice of a place to get murdered. My ears popped as we went up the elevator and then we arrived in a super swanky and fancy restaurant with the most incredible view of the city.
I had yet another case of travel’s diarrhea but was so happy I would be able to go to the bathroom here where it was sure to be clean and to have toilet paper. Not all bathrooms in China have toilet paper. Well, to my joyous surprise this was the best toilet I have used in my life. My cold butt was warmed by the seat and I had a full roll of toilet paper and multiple options to cleanse my rear with different water pressures. After living in China for five months, where toilets are really the worse, I was in heaven and I took my sweet ass time. Well, I should of took less time warming by butt cause the building lights turn off at 10pm but I still managed to get a good picture. The picture I took really doesn’t do it justice. It was such an incredible view (and probably even more incredible because of that damn toilet).
I enjoyed the view with my new friend and drank hot chocolate that basically was just a melted bar of chocolate.
My new friend was very concerned I hand’t bought my train ticket to Chuzhou yet and decided I needed to get it now. We went on our way to the train station but the metro stops at 11pm in Shanghai. Yes, 11pm. The main mode of transportation of Shanghai just stops at 11pm. I guess the idea is, “Go home at 11pm but don’t make babies cause you need a birth permit for that!” We finally got a “real”cab, not a fake one, and got to the train station but it was closed. I told him I would be waking up early so I would just get a ticket in the morning.
Also, the people outside the train station thought I was Russian. So both Chinese in Chuzhou and Shanghai think I am Russian which I find hilarious.
I had a later start than I wanted but got a ticket back to Chuzhou and had more than enough time to have a last adventure in Shanghai. I went to Gaoqiao a Dutch inspired town.
My internal world was shaken so it changed my view of the external world. Life happens and I just wanted to cry but I had already checked out of my hostel and my only other option for privacy was a public bathroom which didn’t sound like a good option. I kept moving forward but I still wasn’t feeling my best. Yes, sitting in a ginormous wooden clog in the outskirts of Shanghai was wonderful but it wasn’t as pure as it could have been.
By the time I got back to the more central area of Shanghai, it was time to leave. I got my backpack from the hostel and headed to the train station. My new friend accompanied me and we ate at the Yang’s Dumpling’s at the train station. With his guidance I tried some new things there. I tried their beef noodles which was nothing to write home about but had a nice touch of curry. I did try their spinach dumplings which were incredible. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to try them!
And I rode the train back to Chuzhuo next to a crying baby.
I had high expectations for my last night adventures and my Saturday night did actually blow them away. The fact that I opened myself up to another human person lead to things I could never do or think of myself.
My idea to see two of the fake towns in two days was a little much but it’s what I really wanted to do. I am glad I was able to see three different ones as they were all so completely different. It also let me see how truly huge Shanghai is. As a local said, “I don’t even go that far.” I thought it was interesting too that the two I went to were very far from central downtown yet both had Starbucks.
I had four weekends trips in Shanghai. There first was like a date that I thought would go really good but then actually went bad. I finally had something that interested me about Shanghai which inspired my second date and by the end I found some of the hidden charms. By the third date I was in love.
I wouldn’t mind living in Shanghai if the air quality was decent and if the Communist Party did something I actually believe in. But hopefully someday I will get to return and have another adventure.