Getting from Hangzhou to Shanghai was a breeze using the high speed bullet train (my first)! Imagine my shock when my bullet train ticket costed less than my bus ticket to Tunxi when the train was obviously faster and more comfortable. However, being a foreigner at the Hangzhou train station, it could be confusing. There was no clear signage on where to queue – if there was a designated counter catered to us. The information counter lady instructed me to queue like others. And the queues at all the counters were long. Lucky for me, after waiting for more than half an hour, the counter lady accepted my passport when it was my turn. I chose not to book my train ticket in advance, but if you are to do the same, it is generally advisable to arrive at the train station plenty of time ahead as you never know how crazy the crowd could be. Then I got to the departure hall where there was a designated gate to wait at and even when you were at the platform, you were divided into waiting areas based on your seat number. Seriously, superior Malaysians who thought China is a backward country should really make a trip to China. When I got to my seat, an elderly man was sitting there. With a stern face, I showed him my ticket. He had no choice but to move to his own seat. Having the window seat to myself, I happily enjoyed the views all the way from Hangzhou to Shanghai!
Some backpackers I knew would wake up really early just so that they could make the most of the day. I swear I tried, I really did. But I simply couldn’t drag myself out the hostel until it was 10am 😦 Especially those few days in Shanghai, my legs were sore from all the walking. Once I was out, the first thing to do was to grab a can of iced coffee at the Family Mart next door. There has been a dilemma – some of the most beautiful places in China and Indonesia are in remote places which aren’t conveniently accessible. A trip there may involve few public buses, hours on road and even the sacrifice of clean Western toilet. There might not even have a Family Mart selling me my much-need coffee in the morning. Am I willing to go the extra miles for those beautiful landscapes? I guess time will tell because I am getting more and more determined to challenge myself to visit more remote and exotic places hehe.
I also started to get conscious about what I was wearing in Shanghai. I started to pull out my dresses to put on. Afterall, I was in Shanghai – Paris of the East and I wanted to look presentable the least. Imagine my disappointment when the girls I saw in metros and streets were rather plain for a metropolis, in terms of how they look and put together with the outfit, hair and make up. Later on, I realized that Shanghai is a place full with either tourists (since I got stopped by few times for direction) or migrants from all parts of the country. And the girls I met at those places I visited simply weren’t the best samples I should get. Oh well.
Shanghai is also the place I felt more civilized, evidenced by the reduced frequency of spitting spotted everywhere I went. Lol. In fact, I had really nice experience with the locals – all the helpful uncles pointing me to the correct direction when I was lost, the middle-aged lady correcting my mandarin pronunciation in English, those elderly ladies in the parks with grandkids asking me where I am from, not forgetting an elderly man who spent close to an hour discussing with me about the difference between two countries and generations. The locals had a gentle demeanor and spoke in Mandarin that was distinctly clear to me, without any slang. Shanghai is a city which I could see myself reside in.
Photos are unavailable while I am typing this. Next post shall be about all the places I had been to (with loads of photos)