Saturday, January 21, 2006

Arrival in Shanghai

Last night, Donny, Gene, and I boarded a train at Beijing Train Station for a 7pm departure to Shanghai. We rode first class in a sleeper car, as it was the only available type of ticket at our time of purchase. There were four beds in the car, and while it almost seemed like the three of us were going to have it to ourselves, some business man showed up at 7.15pm. How did he do that?! The train was already moving for 15 minutes! We got over it quickly enough, I suppose.

I spent a good portion of the ride staring at the window at the changing scenery. It's so nice to be out of Beijing for a bit. I saw really big hills, and empty space. I was shocked to see that somewhere in China hasn't been inhabited and run over by factories. At one point while the business man was gone, and Gene had gone to smoke, Donny and I were staring out the window and saw a tent in the middle of the nothingness, with seven people sitting at a fire. I thought that was beautiful.

Eventually I fell asleep, and stayed so for what I would guess was about 4 hours. I was awakened around 7am by the sound of ratcheting coming from above me. The business man was taking all his stuff down and moving it out of the car. I made a question noise at him while I turned to look out the window. I saw the shang of Shanghai as he said, "Dao le," which means, "We're here." Donny and Gene were both dead asleep, so I roused them quickly and started a mad packing dash to get out of the car. I met them outside.

While I was waiting for them, a man approached me and said that I needed to take my bags upstairs. He had quite a thick Shanghai accent, but he was thankfully still speaking Mandarin and not Shanghainese. He kept insisting that I take everything upstairs, but in my tired haze it took a few times of his insisting before I shut him up. "Here, here, I'll help you," he said, as he grabbed my bag. "No, no, no," I said, grabbing it back. "I'm waiting for my friends. I'll take it up on my own, thank you."

"Ah! Ni shi cong Beijing lai de!" he exclaimed. That means, roughly, "Ah! You're from Beijing!"

I confirmed his assumption, and he started complimenting me on my Mandarin. During this conversation of compliments and declining them, Donny and Gene emerged from the train. After the man babbled at them about taking luggage upstairs, we left him and took our bags up ourselves. Once upstairs, we started trying to think of ways to find an internet cafe, because a necessary email with directions to our hotel was not printed ahead of time.

I asked some woman about an internet bar, and she had no idea what I was talking about. It wasn't that my speaking was bad. She knew everything that I said except for "internet bar." My tones were right, too. I checked them later. Eventually we ended up going to a hotel and using their internet. We got the address, but we had to take two separate cabs to the place because we had too much luggage, apparently. I went by myself and got driven around. Blah. Oh well.

I didn't talk to the cab driver until we arrived, and it was only to confirm the price of the ride. All I said was a monetary amount, and the cab driver freaked out. "Beijing ren!!" (You're a Beijing person, or rather, You're from Beijing!). I didn't realize that my accent was that recognizable.

Later on, Mr. Liu, Gene's father's business partner, the person who's arranged the Motel 168 (our hotel) stuff for us, met us at the hotel, and we all had lunch at the nearby Ocean Hotel. That hotel has a revolving restaurant on the top, so we got a nice view of the city while eating for two hours. After lunch, we walked around and Mr Liu showed us the subway system. I swear, being in Shanghai is like having done time travel. The subway was immaculate. I couldn't believe it. This place is such a stark contrast from Beijing.

We made our ways out to Waitan, and got to see the skyline against the water. The area on the way to Waitan is a huge pedestrian area kind of like Wangfujing in Beijing, but bigger, with more people, and with more lights. I took ridiculous amounts of photos during our excursion which will be posted after I get the chance to edit them a bit.

I need to sleep now because I need to get up for breakfast tomorrow. My trip is going really well so far.


At 1:04 AM, Blogger Nick said...

HOLY SKYPE BALLS - You're in Shanghai! Wow, I hope you keep the blogging up!! Thanks for this first post. It looks like such an awesome city - at least by the skyscrapers and city lights. Is it as cosmopolitan as everybody says? PARTY! Live.


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