Shoddy Shanghai

Trip Start Aug 12, 2010
Trip End Sep 23, 2011

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Flag of China  , Shanghai,
Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hello everyone,

So after the historical delights of Xi’an we made our third train journey to Shanghai (16hrs). By this time we were train experts and knew fully what to expect; get settled in, buy instant noodles, find the water boiler, eat, sleep. What was nice was the fact that this train had carpet, cleaner toilets, smarter dressed staff, security, T.V, and even curtains. But most importantly air-conditioning, this meant that the trains windows didn’t need to be open so the noise levels were much better for sleeping, result!

We were excited to visit Shanghai as its renowned for being a vibrant, funky city with European streetscapes, French patisseries, banging clubs, trendy restaurants, electric cocktail bars, and charming art deco architecture. The famous riverside area called The Bunds, French Concession, and the Shanghai Museum are meant to be top sights that cannot be missed (quote from Lonely Planet), all were severely disappointing and over-rated. Worst of all is the fact that all of these areas can be seen within a day, but because we couldn’t get on a train to Beijing until four days later we had to stick it out. What we did expect from Shanghai was some great cafés, bars, restaurants and clubs, but again these were largely lacking in both quantity and quality. Unless you have bundles of cash. However, one good thing to say about Shanghai is that there are some amazing shopping malls and centres, many putting the likes of Selfridges and West Fields to shame, and yes even Bluewater and Lakeside. But even if you were Victoria Beckham you would hesitate to shop here as it is very expensive and in most cases prices are 30% more expensive than they are in Europe.

As there is really nothing else to say about Shanghai we thought we would tell you about a man called Ken…. I mean Mao Zedong, I just call him Ken because that’s what he looks like his name should be.

Mao Zedong aka Ken is the country’s saviour and the founder of the Chinese Communist Party. He become the leader of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949 where he stood in front of millions of people in Beijing and announced, ‘The Chinese people have stood up’. He then led a guerrilla war against opposing parties, and decentralised socialist development, later becoming the Cultural Revolution. Above all Mao wanted to exercise ideological control over China’s population. At this time all Western influences (including Westerners themselves) were removed from the country, much to the Americans (and MacDonald’s) disgust.

Mao’s past experiences had convinced him that only violent change could shake up the relationship between landlords (Capitalists) and their tenants. In the first year of his regime, 40% of the land was redistributed to poor peasants. At the same time, some million or so people (Capitalists) condemned as ‘landlords’ were persecuted, tortured, and killed. It is thought that during his regime an estimated 70 million Chinese died - but today he is remembered as a man who united his people and returned China to the status of world power. His ubiquitous images are seen throughout China, and he is seen as a saint who will protect people (or make them rich). The often used monikers are ‘Great Leader’, ‘Great Teacher’ and ‘supremely beloved Chairman’. I just call him Ken.

After Shanghai we got our seater train to Beijing. We bought our tickets from our hostel who said it left from the Central Station. Once getting there we were told that it actually left from the new bullet train station 20kms away. We had 30 mintues before our train left, we were in big trouble! Instead of getting the metro there, we jumped in a taxi and told the driver to go as fast as possible. He replied "tomorrow, tomorrow". At this point we were praying and Hollie was in tears. We had 10 minutes before our train left and still 5kms to go. After the motorway cleared a bit our driver really put his foot down and we arrived at the station at 9.28pm, 2 minutes to go!!! We thanked the driver a lot, without him we would of definately missed our train. After getting our luggage out of the taxi we sprinted into the terminal and rushed to our platform. As we jumped on our train the doors closed. What a relief!!! After this sort of stress we realised we really couldn't do The Amazing Race, its far too stressful and just a lottery with how fast your taxi driver is.

Join us next time to see us climb The Great Wall of China.

Love Thomas and Hollie x x x
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