I am writing this on another train journey; this time a 20 hour trip from Shanghai to Shenzhen. It can seem quite romantic travelling on an overnight train speeding through the countryside. That is if you ignore the smell of fags, farting and spare rib noodles, with the occasional cough and spit to top things off. But that’s enough about Katy. It has been a really easy and cheap(ish) way to get around China though, and the beds are comfortable enough if you are less than 5’9”.
So we spent some time in Xian and stayed in one of the world’s best hostels no less, the Seven Sages. It was ok, but we’ve stayed in better already in our trip. Xian is probably the most accessible city to walk around. It is surrounded by city walls of about a 10km perimeter, so you can never get too lost. We didn’t do too much in Xian other than to go and see the Terracotta Warriors. Big life-size pottery soldiers…what can you say? It was good to hear a bit of the history behind them as had no idea that they were so old. I did come out of there feeling a bit like Carl Pilkinton from an Idiot Abroad. Maybe it’s because when you go and see things like that, the thousands of tourists and commercial side of things takes something away from it. Or it could be that we’re very hard to please.
After four days we decided to move on and took another train to Shanghai. We were running out of time on our China visa, so we decided that this would be our last stop before heading to Hong Kong. It’s definitely a very different place to anywhere else we have been in China. Very westernised, with Prada, Louis Vuitton and McDonald’s on every corner. It is probably somewhere that we didn’t explore enough, as we both got a cold and decided to chill out at the hostel for a couple of days.
Something remarkable did happen while we were in Shanghai however, two things actually. Firstly Arsenal and Bolton both won the respective matches, which is a surprise this season. Secondly, Katy had her first day with no alcohol in the trip. We’re probably going to return to the UK in a year’s time alcoholics. But hopefully we should have a good tan to go with it, so I’m not too worried.
What little we did see, we decided to go the whole hog and become proper tourists; the type that I usually detest in London. We went on a Big Bus Tour (yes it was actually the Big Bus Tour). It went round the city dropping us off a various points. One of which was the Bund, which is basically a poor man’s Southbank. It’s a big walkway overlooking some of the finance district skyscrapers. Nice place to walk down in the sun before jumping back on the bus to head over to one of the Skyscrapers we were just looking at. We went to the observation deck of the Jan Mao Tower on the 88th floor. We got some cool pictures of the city lighting up just after sunset.
To get back into town our tour included what they called the tourist tunnel. It was basically an underground cable car with a light show going on within the tunnel. It was quite funny, but very tacky at the same time.
Someone we had met at a train station had recommended a restaurant in Shanghai, and we ate there twice. The food was really good both times, and very reasonable for the amount we bought. We could have fed 3-4 people each time comfortably, but we managed on our own. Maybe we will be coming back to the UK overweight alcoholics, with a good tan.
So now we are off to Hong Kong for 13days. That is if we work out how to get over the border from Shenzhen. We have heard rumours that you can just walk over the border and get on the Metro, but this hasn’t been confirmed. It’s now 7:00 in the morning, and our train should arrive in Shenzhen any minute. I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.
Until the next time…