Shanghai and bye bye Mr Rat!

Trip Start Jan 16, 2011
Trip End Aug 08, 2011

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Where I stayed
Rock & Wood Hostel

Flag of China  , Shanghai,
Thursday, April 28, 2011

So this is just a real quickie as we only had 3 days there…

We arrived in Shanghai in the evening after a 10 hour daytime train journey from Beijing. The hostel had emailed us instructions on how to get there so the first leg of the journey was the sky train to Ya'an West. It said on there that the hostel was only about 5 minutes’ walk from the station…eazy peezy! Oh no it wasn’t!! It took us an hour and a half to find it! This was so not funny with heavy backpacks!

It was dark so that didn’t help and the instructions told us to walk through a park and the hostel would be on the other side. Well the park that we saw when we walked out the station was shut…We walked and walked trying to get to the other side but we got more lost so we asked taxis to take us there but they all refused. David had the address written in Chinese on his phone so we thought that would make things easier but it didn’t. Some of them just looked at us blankly gesturing that they didn’t know where this place was and others just pointed us into some random directions…we tried to ask so many people but nobody knew what we were talking about or pointing at. It was the most trouble we’d had with language barrier on our whole trip so far! It also felt like maybe they weren’t bothered about helping us. It was weird as Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city and you’d expect people to speak English but a lot of them don’t, especially the older generation. Apparently English is now compulsory in schools so the younger ones can speak a little bit or at least understand some English.

We turned so many corners and felt like we were getting closer but still couldn’t work it out. We walked up to this petrol station to ask someone there but they fobbed us off too. We literally sat down with our backpacks outside the petrol station and felt like we had nowhere else to turn. We had called the hostel from a supermarket to try and get directions but they had no idea where we were so they couldn’t direct us either. We had lost all hope and got really frustrated about the fact that nobody was willing to help us. Just as we were asking eachother 'What are we going to do now?’ a Chinese man in his car drove up towards us asking if he could help us at all… We showed him what we were looking for and he didn’t know where it was either but he told us to just get in his car and we’d look for it together! So we did and eventually we found the hostel down a narrow alley which turned out to be just around the corner from the petrol station! He was our hero and he restored our faith in people!

The hostel ‘Rock & Wood’ turned out to be a really cool brand new contemporary hostel so we let them off for their poor instructions! That is why nobody knew where it was, it was new in the area! Also the park they meant was literally on the other side of the station which meant we were walking round in a huge circle….We both had a well-deserved beer and just tried to unwind from our nightmare in their designer type courtyard garden complete with funky water feature and pond.

We were set to sleep in a 6 bed dorm which was quite cramped, full of stuff such as bags and empty food wrappers etc proper student styley but we got ourselves organised knowing we wouldn’t be there for long. I got ready fo

r bed and Dave went to the common room for a last beer. Three other people were in the room with me, two were half asleep and one dude was still reading his book. I started to doze off when the bloke on the other top bunk all of a sudden shouted ‘Fuck! Did you just see that?’. We all jumped up asking ‘What?’ He told us he’d just seen a rat run across Dave’s bunk and it was now sitting on one of the locker cupboards which had tons of stuff on top of it. One of the guys ran downstairs to tell the man in reception and the other girl just ran off squealing. I didn’t dare to get down my bunk so just stayed there for a minute and so did the other dude who had spotted the rodent.

Two Chinese maintenance men came into the room looking for it armed with head torches. They couldn’t see it so they were shaking the cupboard when all of a sudden they both spotted it. It was now behind the unit. They first tried to catch it but then they realised that it was pointless so they just crushed the poor little bugger to death between the wall and the cupboard. We heard a massive crunch and that was the end of Mr Rat! I will never forget the noise! Rank! They picked it up with a plastic bag and pissed themselves laughing. They thought it was hilarious and they probably couldn’t believe their luck that they’d just caught their second dinner for the night!

Good job Dave didn’t get into bed when I did as he would have found the rodent sitting on his bed. The proof that he was sitting on the bed for a while was there as he’d left massive pellets of poop! The girl came back and said she didn’t want to stay in that room anymore and that she’d sorted a new room key for us too. The American guy who spotted the vermin was happy to stay in that room now it was dead but we decided to go sleep in another room. That happened to be a 4 bed dorm, much cleaner and tidier and so Mr Rat had actually done us a favour and his life was not lost in vain!

Dave was really happy he’d missed out on all the drama in the room especially when I told him that the rat had been on his bunk and that there was rat poop under his pillow….

After a goodnight’s sleep we got up and went sightseeing. Shanghai is a lot more Western than Beijing in terms of what you see…there’s no hutongs and it doesn’t really have that Chinese charm that some of the areas in Beijing had. It is completely different and has a different vibe to it. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great when we were there. We had on and off rain showers but it was still fun. We went to the famous Bund and had a nice stroll along the river when the sun was out. We did quite a lot of walking in the 2 full days we had there and the underground Metro is fairly easy to use too…

On our last evening we went to the roof top bar of the Hyatt hotel to get an amazing view of the Bund at night. The DJ was playing some funky tunes with the amazing background. So that people don’t just go up there to take photos you have to pay CNY100 per person to get in but that includes a drink. I had my very first glass of white wine in months and months….it was so good…we treated ourselves to a glass of bubbly too so it was just lush. The terrace right on top has an open air Jacuzzi which you can use if you buy a bottle of champers. Nobody was in it but it was really busy up there with wealthy expats and alike. That was the first time in months that we were somewhere ‘glitzy’ and non-backpackery. We met a Geordie expat who invited us to join him for wine with his friends. He bought us Sambucas, made David drink 2 in a row and then plied us with white wine. He was a good laugh but eventually got very drunk so we excused ourselves and jumped in a taxi back to our hostel. We had a fantastic time and this would be another recommendation to anyone who visits Shanghai!

Today we fly to Sydney…time to say goodbye to Asia after all this time…I’m sad to leave it behind as I loved it so much but also happy to see new things! Dave is so excited that he doesn’t have to have rice every day any more, he’s looking forward to his first Strongbow and the fact that language is no longer going to be an issue…well at least not until we get to Chile…

Lots of love,

Dave and Jess

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