304 kmph is the highest I saw China’s famous high speed train speedometer read in route from Fuzhou to Shanghai but I’m told it went to maybe 350 kmph and perhaps I just didn’t see it. When they come in the railway station without stopping, you can feel how fast it is as your hat flies off and your skirt flies over your head. A good place to be for Marilyn Monroe to show off her moves I suppose. Despite the speed, I was able to view and take some photos of the landscape and cities as we whizzed by. China appears thus far to be a perfectly manicured country but nothing special or distinguishing about it. That is at least my first impression. Also, despite the speed, we stopped so many times, the trip was over 6.5 hours long so maybe a flight back to Taipei would have been better and because of all the problems probably cheaper but at least this way I got to see a little chunk of some of the country that otherwise I would have never seen.
My expectations were waaaay off. I thought if you arrive at the biggest railway terminal – the one shared with the airport – there would be some tourist center or visitor center with someone who spoke English; someone there to help obtain subway tickets, a SIM card, anything that might help me get to where I need to go but nothing. And I was hoping that all the bad stuff I heard about the Chinese wasn’t true but so far, all of it is oh so true. Again, perhaps it’s a language barrier but frankly I just don’t think anyone ever taught anyone manners here which is surprising given how dedicated to education the Chinese are. I think I never got a dirtier look in my life as I get from the various “help” desks. Man they must hate their job of helping people. Or maybe they just hate westerners or maybe they hate it when the Chinese cut in line, talk over everyone else including the “helper” and just exhibit bad manners in general as much as I do. I need to change my attitude though because when you are seconds from screaming at the top of your lungs “I HATE THE CHINESE!” in the middle of the train station, you need a serious attitude change.
I’m staying at a place Booking.com said was a great location called the Fish Inn. Hotel claims to have upgraded me since they charged me for the first night when I didn’t stay there but if they did I would hate to see the standard room and they got me anyway as they charged me the deluxe room rate for the additional night I had. Crazy expensive compared to the lovely Hotel Yue in Fuzhou but at this point a little peace and quiet in the room isn’t bad. I thought there were a lot of people in HK and Macau but they’ve got nothing on Shanghai. I’ve never been cut in front of, squished, pushed and stepped on so many times. They just don’t care because otherwise they would never get anywhere either. I have never been much of a pusher or shover myself given how much room we have in Texas but I assure you, I became one in the blink of an eye. Not in a bad way but because you HAVE to. There are billions of people everywhere. In fact, on one train there were so many people that I couldn’t raise my arms. My personal space was non-existent. It was like how Vienna sausages fit in that small can. In order to get the first Vienna sausage out you have to squish the center with your finger nails and pull. Sardines saying applies but it looks like I’m going to be a Vienna sausage or sardine for a few weeks and must get used to the lack of personal space. Welcome to China. If there was an outbreak of zombies here, either everyone would be dead or, in my case, I just learned that I might get some practice while here avoiding being trampled to death so it’s not all bad.
The kids Kung fu fighting everywhere is kinda cute though and reminds me that I would like to take Tai Chi classes while here. Redbulls are impossible to find but Monster or Thai Redbull is everywhere so there is that. No worries though as 7-11 is coming soon to China like HK and Taiwan I’m told. Lunch was $4.00USD. Taxi was $15.00USD. $20RMB for metro card; $3RMB for single journey one station over. $62/USD a night for room.
Watch out for the really nice English speaking Chinese couple who asks you to take a benign photo of them in front of nothing (or even the not so benign) and then invites you to join them for a traditional tea ceremony as it is just a scam. You will end up paying $2000 yuan for that cup of tea so pull a red ribbon week and “Just Say No”! Part of you will be tempted because the scammers are the only people who speak English but don’t do it!
Shanghai does however redeem itself with the view of The Bund overlooking the Huangpu River and the Pearl Tower which is quite spectacular particularly at night. If there were words, I would use them but Shanghai has made an argument for most beautiful riverside view of a city especially at night at least if you like modern architecture (I still think number one is Budapest at night but, it definitely blew Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore out of the proverbial water which is very hard to do. These photos are not even close to a good representation of The Bund.
That’s all for now from Shanghai. After some rest and food all will look better in the morning.