Shanghai took my breath away. The futuristic look and feel of the city made it a popular destination for films such as Skyfall, Looper and Mission Impossible 3 (next time you watch them, watch out for the famous skyline). The first stop was to visit the Bund that looked remarkably European and modern while keeping its Chinese identity. It was even better when we went on the night cruise of the river where all the buildings were lit up in spectacular fashion. The beginning of the cruise was like a Chinese tourist convention with plenty of Chinese people taking five snaps a second. After marvelling over the beauty of the city I had to go downstairs into the warm room as I was freezing my chopsticks off. The other parts of the city were just as worth for a mention, especially the French concessions which was almost like stumbling into a small town in France.
After five days of constant walking I was far too tired to join some of the guys who headed off to a club. I enjoyed some Premiership football in my comfy bed until I drifted off into a deep sleep. I awoke early in the morning with the lights still on. I glanced over to my room mate Felipe’s bed and it was still made, Felipe had never come home! I threw on some clothes and headed to the bakery across the street for some breakfast. As the doors for the elevator opened at the lobby level, Felipe stood there scruffy and sleepy. I gave my brother a hug as he went off to take a shower. I went to buy the poor thing a pancake and told him in Britain we often refer to him as a ‘lad’. It came out that Felipe had met a cute Chinese girl and stayed the night at her place. When our tour guide Jade found out she replied in a conservative matter, “are you keeeeding?”
During our time in Shanghai we visited a famous tea house surrounded by a square of beautiful Chinese architecture. I went around the shops with Rob and Gina and managed to get us all new sunglasses for 50 Yuan each where the guy originally wanted 150. My old pair were a bit dingy as I haggled that pair a couple years earlier in the Mauritian markets. I loved my new ‘Oakeys’. The square was full of locals. The people of China are perhaps the most impatient group of individuals I had ever come across and the spitting everywhere in public is something hard to get used to. However, I love them. On a whole they are a kind and happy people with respect for power. The Chinese ladies are very cute too.
Later that day Rob, Gina and myself were just relaxing, waiting for the rest of the group to meet us when someone asked Rob to have their picture taken with him. I was previously jealous of Felipe and Andy who had said they had also been asked for a photo. I threw down a challenge to Rob saying who would be asked the most to have their photo taken with them. As soon as that was said the floodgates opened, everyone wanted a picture with us! Most Chinese people never leave the mainland so seeing a Westerner is a bit of a novelty. It really was like the three of us were celebrities. A bit later on I was by myself and even more Chinese girls came to ask to have their photo taken with me, like infatuated school girls. By this time I was in the groove, jokingly thinking “can’t I just be left alone, I’m just a normal guy like anyone else!”. Shanghai was an amazing experience.
An additional story in retrospect. Walking through the town center, we came across a giant aquarium right there in the middle of the high street. It contained turtles, fish and sharks in a thirty-three ton fish tank. After we had left the city I came across a disturbing news article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-20850048 . The tank randomly exploded during the day with the water rushing down the street. I feel bad for those poor turtles and sharks.