Shangbomb!

Trip Start Apr 16, 2010
1
15
25
Trip End Jul 24, 2010


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Flag of China  , Shanghai,
Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Busy days + lots of travel + 40 yuan for an hours internet = belated blog entry.

Since the last entry a lot has happened, so brace yourselfs for a blog of epic proportions... you have been warned...

Hangzhou

Having arrived in "Shanghai's back garden" a day after the almighty Huang Shan adventure, our legs took a well earned rest, resulting in a 10:30 lie in. It was then that we hired 5 bikes (Ollie's and Stef's proving to be considerably smaller than the others) and completed a circuit around West Lake. The cycle was thoroughly enjoyed and provided an aesthetically pleasing view throughout the duration of the trip. Along the way we stopped off at Hangzhou's pagoda. Having seen many a pagoda in our time, we thought it best to have a gander around it's surroundings. We stopped off at a large pond crammed with turtles, some dead, some alive, and it added to the collection of animals mistreated in China.
 
As evening rapidly approched we headed towards Hefeng street (or Hangzhou's 'ancient culture street'). Feeling brave we sampled a few of the local delicacies: Dragon Whisker Sweets were a real work-out for the jaw, and a couple each was more than enough. We soon headed further down the street and enjoyed the bustling carnival atmosphere at such a late hour. It was then that two members of the group decided, rather spotaneously, to have a self portrait done. Keeping the models anonymous, (it was Jon and Dan) half an hour later the portrait was complete. Let's just say that they are no Mona Lisa, and since completed have been stuffed at the bottom of two bags.

Hangzhou was a great place and we had a good time, the painfully early train to Suzhou the next morning however, seemed to leave a bitter note on the beautiful lakeside city...

Suzhou

The penultimate leg of our escapade around China saw us stop off at Suzhou, the end of the silk road and home to some of China's most remarkable gardens.

With little going wrong in China it was about time we experience some difficulties. The train and taxi journey proved easy enough but what followed was a bit of a palava. Arriving at Tuahuawoo Hostel at precisely 10:00 hours, with heavy bags and heavy heads (we failed to get much sleep the night before), we strolled in assured that it would only be a short while until we could collapse on a bed. Unforntunately it wasn't to be. For some inexplicable reason the hostel had not recieved our booking. Without going into too much detail, Stef ended up picking the ace of hearts (the short straw), and slept in a dorm of 6 for the first night alone. What a hero! The next night, however, joy was restored as we played lots of pool and had a go on the free Spiderman climbing wall. A couple of hours later, feeling a little more rested, we headed on to the nearest Hutong and found a gem of a restaurant. The food was on par with the Beijing cuisine and we indulged in several large plates of deliciousness.

The following day we were up to our usual antics and hired some bikes. Twenty minutes later, after stopping off at '85 degrees' Bakery, we had arrived at The Humble Administrator's Garden. Shocked at the extortionate prices (70 flippin' yuan) we ended up paying and waltzed around the 5 acre oasis, breathing in the preciously clean air. After crossing several bridges and taking lots of gorgeous photos our time had come to an end and we left feeling relaxed. It didn't last long and within minutes of leaving Tim and Ollie were haggling with a local Teapot sales-woman and purchased two charming tea cups. We hopped back on our bikes and cycled to the Twin Pagodas. During the journey Tim was cut up by a moped and rather beligerently told him to "watch where he was going." It was a Sunday and the Pagodas were closed. We then headed for Suzhou Park. It was a Sunday and was full of pensioners dancing and singing horrendously high! Later that evening Ollie and Stef went to get a haircut. It was a Sunday... but the hairdressers was open. The language barrier proved difficult here,but eventually the job was done and the product was two fine trims!

Another early morning train and we were on our way to Shanghai...

Shanghai

At about 10:30am, we sailed gleefully past the Shanghai YHA on our way to our prebooked 3-bedroom suite at New Harbour Service Apartments! Thanks to Simon Mackinnon, a friend of the Slaters, we've been put up in an amazingly plush apartment for the durations of our stay in Shanghai. Some of the luxuries we're still getting used to include on suites, our own kitchen, our own lounge (with sofas and TV), and most importantly free access to the spa/pool! Thanks Simon!

We reluctantly left our apartment and headed off for some market shopping shortly after lunch (Jon had quite a list of things to bring back!) Jon and Ollie headed for the Shanghai equivalent of the silk market, whilst Stef, Tim and Dan went to Yu Gardens - both Dan and Stef returned with some fantastic Chinese teasets for an astonishingly cheap price! On our way back to the hotel we visited the Bund and witnessed Shanghai's incredible and iconic skyline first hand - what an amazing place! It was soon time for the spa, where we rested our weary bodies for the evenings activites.

A friend of Simon's has kindly agreed to show us around the city, and we met him in the lobby at 6.30. Henry was brought up in Shanghai but has just finished his second year at Pennsylvania Uni. After chatting for a while Jon and Henry worked out that they had a close friend in common - it's a small small world. We enjoyed a fantastic local meal with Henry, sampling some fantastic traditional Chinese cuisine and finding out a little more about the city. After a late trip to see the Bund by night we called it a night and headed back to the beloved apartment...

This morning we rose early again to visit the World Expo. It was a great day, and we saw a huge variety of pavilions from all over the globe. England's was quite a spectacle, but for the main countries, queues could last well over 6 hours, so we stuck to the smaller pavilions... Some of the architecture was quite incredible, particularly the main Chinese pavilion, and we largely agreed that the outside of the buildings was probably more of a spectacle than the inside. By 18.00 we were worn out (and the spa called!) so headed 'home'.


Before we go we'd like to apologise for the lack of pictures but technology seems to be against us - we will update again and add photos within the next few days so stay tuned!!

Must dash - time for a late night jacuzzi!

Much love

Dan
Jon
Ollie
Tim
Stef

x

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Comments

nick , ewa and christian on

nice haircut Stef , love the potrait of Chinese Dan, i guess Stef and Ollie will grow into their new bikes ! Suzhou looks lovely by night, enjoy your final days in China and then on to NZ !
Went to Julia and Simons for dinner last week ( very nice it was too) and it was only then that Ewa realised what DOTS stands for !!
ah well, she caught up in the end

love Nick ,Ewa and Christian xxxxxx

Ursula on

You lucky lot, living it up in Shanghai. Loved the blog and all the photos, Dan's portrait has definitely got a chinese look about it.....do we get to see a chinese version of Jon?!! Haircuts look great guys and did I spot some new clothes Ollie?:) Who were your chinese friends in the Expo picture? A few more days of luxury and great food - enjoy! Safe journey for Jon tomorrow. Lots of love xxxx

Julia ( and Simon) on

So pleased you are enjoying the mackinnon's hospitality and hope you managed to catch up with them , do send them our love if you are still to meet up.
Hope the onward journey to New Zealand goes well. Shanghai sounds amazing. perhaps all the parents should have a gap holiday, what do you think Ursula and Nick?
Hope you manage to enjoy the World Cup wherever you are. Loads of love to all , Julia and Simon x x

Harri on

I've loved reading these! It sounds like you've had an amazing time so far and I'm so glad that you've enjoyed China. How did you get to go to the expo!?
Have fun in NZ, I look forward to the next blog!
Take care xxx

Dadash on

Hi boys, Have taken some time to read a lot of your postings today and I'm amazed at the exciting things you have been doing. In spite of what you said about your pictures, I think you have done real good. Dan, you would be pleased as we were to know that we received your card yesterday. Love reading your message and your exciting exploits. Hope you boys will have a great time in the States too. We are all looking to your safe return and send you lots of love

JC on

Watch out for that man Simon MacKinnon, he will steal your wallet...

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