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My Awesome Trip Part 2: Shanghai

8 Dec

This is Part 2 of a trio. Click here to read Part 1 (Beijing).

I'm in Shanghai!

I’m in Shanghai!

The train to Shanghai moved at a speed of no less than 400km/h. Lo and behold, the man sitting next to me knew English, and we were able to chat about this and that on the way. He was mad at Canada for rejecting him a visa twice – and that was about all he had to say about my country of origin. What could I do but apologize on behalf of my country? I fully agree with him that the system is flawed, and becoming even more so now. But that’s another story. Other than that, this man was very friendly, and it made me feel more confident about travelling alone.

I passed the train ride reading (finishing!) my mystery book, and looking out the window. I also tried to ignore – and failed – the dawning reality that my body was taking arms against me in the form of a rapidly streaming nose. Despite the fact that my symptoms never got beyond a sore throat, a runny nose and sneezing, I later decided it had to be the plague because, in a country where I couldn’t read the medicine labels and nothing looked like Nyquil, there was no cure. I put up with that feeling of near-death-by-streaming-nostrils until my last day, when I finally broke down, went to a drug store, found the first person that could speak English, and trusted her about these mysterious yellow tablets that would apparently take care of everything. Whether they actually did anything or not is curious, since the conditions were perfect for a placebo effect – and that remains my only experience with Chinese medicine thus far.

Not hostile at all!Once in Shanghai, already dark with night, I braved the subway system, making three transfers in order to find my hostel. I have no idea how I made it, but somehow I lucked out (or God was leading me) by randomly choosing to exit the subway in the direction of the biggest, nearest road. There before me was the billboard that pointed the way to the Utels Shanghai City Central Youth Hostel!

Well don't that look inviting!

The hostel was very warm and welcoming, what with flag-streamers hanging in the lobby, African and Asian art hanging on the walls, and book shelves sectioning off a big, comfy-looking reading area! I was home!

My room was a four-bed female dorm; plain but comfortable and secure. In my three nights there, I met women travelling from Germany, New Zealand, Latvia and Macau. Towels, I learned the hard way, were not. I didn’t know that hostel travel requires you to bring your own, so the first day there I ended up using a t-shirt. A trip to the nearby mall dollar store (yuan store?) remedied that quickly: a face cloth it would have to be.

So started the chapter of my travels called “MCC isn’t paying for this”. Continue reading