Sightseeing in and around Shanghai

Yesterday I had a nice day trip to West Lake (Xihu, Xiwu or something like that - learning a word is easy, remembering it is hard...). I went to the bus station where I successfully got a ticket to Hangzhou, which is a small city outside of Beijing and right next to the lake. It is always interesting to buy tickets by yourself - you have to get through the crowd in front of the office (no, there is no real queue, just a crowd surging in the same direction), pronounce the city name correct or show them the characters and then understand when the bus leaves, from where and how much you're supposed to pay. And of course they don't speak English.

Anyway, after a semi-long bus ride to Hangzhou I firstly went by local bus to the train station, bought a train ticket back (same procedure - use your elbows, try to communicate and then try to pay). After that I got a taxi down to the lake. The weather wasn't that good - it was raining slightly. I didn't mind though. The lake was beautiful and it was still warm enough to walk around in a hoodie. It was easy to see that Hangzhou was a smaller city - not on the buildings (many skysrapers, I would guess the city is only slightly smaller than Stockholm), but on the people were soooo fascinated with me. They couldn't have many "whities" living in that city and most tourists were Chinese (I did see two girls that could have been from Turkey and an old man from Poland or something like that, but that's the only Westerners I saw). The local people would be in groups and when one saw me they would whisper something and then the whole group would "accidently turn around" to see me - very subtle indeed! :) But I guess I was a bit of a sight - apart from being tall and white, I was also only wearing t=shirt and hoodie and looking really happy in the middle of the rain when everyone else was hiding under umbrellas and looking miserable. I like the quote from the book saying that "Physical discomfort is only a problem if you're in a bad mood" and for some reason I was in a really good mood this day.

After a long walk around the lake I saw bits of the city (could have been Shanghai really - skyscrapers, large banks, McDonalds and all the large chains) before taking a cab to the train station to catch the train back. In the evening me and Ashley went to dinner at an Italian pasta-place - not so genuinely Chinese and perhaps not the cheapest place to eat in town, but definetly worth every yuan! Yum! Had a delicious lasagne with spinach and goat cheese and two glasses of really good wine as well! Panna cotta finished of the meal nicely! :)

Today I've done some more "queueing" in Shanghai - to get my train ticket to Beijing. I'm leaving this afternoon, on hard seats for an overnight train that takes 14 hours (give or take a few hours). This one was a real challenge, it took me like half an hour to find the ticket office for a start. They had really nice huge signs showing the way in English - almost all the way. Suddenly the signs just disappear and you're left wandering around the block trying to find a huge crowd of people inside something that could be a ticket office. After finding it I had to stand in line for like one hour, which was actually good since I got the chance to learn how to read the large electronic board showing all departures the next ten days. First I found out how to spell Beijing in Chinese characters (the board is of course only in Chinese), then how to read out which date was actually showing, then doing it at the same time at high speed (the departures - 20 at a time, would only show for five seconds or so), then I found out how to read out hard seat, hard sleeper, soft seat and soft sleeper in Chinese and then how to see whether they were available at a given departure and whether they were sold out or not... Doing all this took me more or less the full hour and from there on I just practiced for myself how to actually order the hard seats for the departure I had choosen. It turned out to work like a charm - she didn't have to use the limited English she actually knew and the tickets were only 175 yuan - much less than bus or hard sleeper would have been.

The rest of the day i've been walking around in shanghai, seeing the Bund again (this time in better weather), seeing the old town and other parts of the town which I guess doesn't really have a name.

Still haven't uploaded pictures - there are loads to come from Xi'An, Shanghai, Hangzhou and so on. In Beijing I'm sure I'll find a great place to upload them - this cafe doesn't really cut it.

1 kommentar:

Olle sa...

You get a real language lesson! Beijing I can probably read fast but I have not a clue of what a hard sleeper sound like in Chinese, much less the characters.

As to Hangzhou I learn (from Wikipedia which is good on the Chinese cities) that it has 2,5 milj inhabitants so it may be small by Chinese standards, but scarcely by Swedish ones! And it is not close to Beijing but lies southwest of Shanghai!

Sounds as if you really got a nice dinner! Eve and I ran into a really good Chinese restaurant the other evening here in Hull. Very newly started and Cantonese food mainly. We will try it again because it is quite hard to find proper, good Chinese food here and in Sweden.

Have a good trip north!