Saturday, July 20, 2013


Took the bus to Shanghai last night. The bus was very comfortable with soft seats and even a television. There seems to be some secret code amongst drivers while using horns, which are used often. Three short beeps seems to mean, "Watch out, I might hit you if you don't get out of my way!" A long, loud beep means, "Hey, you idiot, you nearly hit me!" and a steady short beep means, "I'm changing lanes, turning, or making another manuver so watch out." The system seems to work fairly well since I have seen very few accidents.
Waiting with an interesting group at Shanghai train station.
When I arrived in Shanghai I was attacked as I got off the bus by people wanting to "help" me. I just kept saying "Bu," (no) and followed the crowd to what I assumed was the exit. I needed to make my way to the train station and failing to notice the signs I just kept following the crowd. I finally wrote "train station" on my translator and picked out an intelligent looking individual but as he was pointing the way I was swarmed by a group of young people, good naturedly, trying to take a picture with me...a foriegner. They happily snapped away as my would be navigator pointed down the street and yammered away. I hastily extracted myself, muttering, "Xie xie" (thank you) and set off. As many others were going the same way I figured I was headed in the right direction and I knew I had about an hour before my train left.
My new friend Mighty!
Managed to find the station, go through a security check, and find my platform waiting area with a minimal amount of drama and realized I was famished. Bought a small round lump of bready thing (I can't remember what it is called) filled with spinach and sat down to eat it and await my train. As I queued up, I heard a small boy in front of me speaking perfect English and so I spoke to his mother to asked her to read my ticket and tell me what carriage I needed to take. Sheena is from China and her husband, Marius, is from Germany. As luck would have it I ended up sharing a berth cabin with these very nice people and their four year old son, Mighty (short for Mitian - of Heaven). Mighty is a very active and boisterous young fellow but we quickly made friends and he stopped climbing all over the berths when I pulled out my iPad. Sheena and Marius gave me all kinds of advice about Beijing and we had an interesting talk about China in general. I slept wonderfully in a very comfortable bunk and we arrived in Beijing at 9am. I joined my new family for a coffee at Starbucks and then we all shared a taxi so that they could make sure I found my hotel. Many thanks to this wonderful couple and their son!
I am spending my first night in a Hutong (traditional Chinese neighbourhood supposedly, but really just an alley). I was a bit nervous as I looked at the outside but the manager, Simon, has been wonderful with giving maps, directions and general information. My room is small but clean and quaint. I am off now to explore Tianamen Square!
The Classic Courtyard in Bei Xie Hutong, Bejing.

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