Check-out was swift and we got back our 112 CNY deposit. The cab driver loitering on the main street wouldn’t take us to the train station and suggested that we used the bus. We chose to take the metro (one station, 2 CNY) instead.
As we were foreigners, we couldn’t buy the tickets using self-service machine and had to use the ticket counters. There were long lines at every counter and I just chose the one with English speaker (hoping that she would be more polite). Our turn came around 20 minutes later and we bought return train tickets (77.50 CNY each way) to Shanghai. We were on the next train departing at 10am and it was already 9.42am.
Cue Amazing Race music.
We trundled our way through the security and headed to Platform 8 (or 9). Boarding had just started and we were on time. Yay.
We settled down and the train rolled out of Hangzhou station at 10 sharp.
The magazine is in Chinese only and the content kinda baffled me. Instead of featuring and promoting the different destinations which could be reached by HSR, the articles were mainly on foreign tourist destinations. Strange.
Once out of Hangzhou, the scenery turned into farmland and nurseries.
Moving at over 300 km/h
There was an intermediate station Jiaxing South between Hangzhou and Shanghai. Lo and behold I actually saw passengers queuing up at the platform as the train was entering the station. I like this place already.
Our train reached Shanghai Hongqiao Station on time at 10:55. It was a pleasant journey and had less hassle compared to flying.
I was famished when we arrived and decided to have brunch at one of the Chinese food chains where we got to witness the outstanding Chinese service attitude up-close.
Customer (C): 我不能吃辣或酸的。 红槽面是不是辣的？ (I couldn’t take spicy or sour food. Is the noodle dish spicy?)
Service staff (S): 一点都不辣。 (Not spicy at all.)
C: 可是它红红的。 (But it’s red.)
S (getting impatient): 都说不辣了。 (I already said that it’s not spicy at all.)
C: 为什么它是红色的? (Why is it red?)
S: 里面有番茄。 (Tomatoes were used.)
C: 那它是酸的吗？ (Then is it sour)
S (raising her voice): 番茄酸不酸我怎么知道啊?! (HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHETHER THE TOMATOS ARE SOUR?!)
I didn’t dare to mess with her when it was my turn to order.
Before leaving Hongqiao train station, I visited the toilet and saw this above the urinal:-
Some people still need the reminder.
Hongqiao Train Station was served by metro lines 2 and 10 and we could use either to get to East Nanjing Road station where our accommodation is located. Line 2 was chosen since it was a shorter ride (33 minutes) and we even got seats.
Fish Inn is three blocks away from the metro station exit and we found it easily with the map printed from its website.
We were assigned to room 309.
She was happy with the hairdryer and rated the room to be better than the one at Hangzhou. I agreed.
After cooling our heels for a while, we set off to explore Shanghai. She wanted to visit Museum of Contemporary Art which was located inside People’s Square. To get there, we would need to walk down the pedestrianized East Nanjing Road on the sunny afternoon.
Museum of Contemporary Art or MOCA is located inside People’s Square and it took us quite some time to figure out where it is.
The different perspectives of an elephant:-
Honestly I had no idea what contemporary art is about and didn’t have any expectations of the exhibition. I left more confused than enlightened after the visit; felt that I paid the 30 CNY entrance for the air-condition more than anything else.
There were large crowds of mostly elderly people gathering in the part of People’s Square which we exited to and we quickly found ourselves in the middle of the largest matchmaking market in Shanghai.
Despite our aversion to crowds (due to bird flu), we were too intrigued to leave.
It seemed that most of the ads were put up by the parents who were afraid that their kids wouldn’t get hitched.
One could pay to post the ad on the walls but for the really serious ones, nothing beats coming down to the park to size up the potential suitors for their kids.
We found the pick of the crowd.
I gotta say that this is one of the most bizarre things that I’ve ever seen; and sad to say I couldn’t qualify for most of the ads due to the height requirement.
After hanging around there for a while, we crossed Huangpu River to Pudong.
The main aim of going to Pudong was to visit the viewing gallery of Shanghai World Financial Centre, currently the tallest building in Shanghai.
We had timed our visit to coincide with the sunset and apparently many had the same idea too.
After paying 150 CNY each, we were ushered through the “Sky Gate” where the history of the building (as well as Shanghai’s skyline) was shown.
After a series of lifts and escalators, we reached Sky Walk (100F).
This is apparently the highest observatory in the world at 474m.
One could look at the ground which is almost half a km away through the transparent tile on the floor; doing it gave me jelly legs
We were there long enough to witness the sunset…
… and the night fall.
The admission of 150 CNY was rather steep but luckily we had good weather and great views of Shanghai from the observatory.
The Bund was teeming with tourists when we visited after SWFC.
Since both of us had a sudden craving of fish and chips, we googled and found that one of the best ones in Shanghai could be found at The Camel, a massive sports bar ran by Australians.
It is located in Xuhui district, part of the former French concession. It’s several minutes’ walk from Shanghai Library metro station and the streets felt European-ish. There were many restaurants and pubs en-route and surprisingly all the customers were foreigners.
It was likewise too at The Camel. We had our western fix (at western prices too) and washed the food down with the really nice Tsingtao and re-run of the earlier F1 qualifying action. Its sports feeds were surprisingly from Hong Kong; so instead of Mandarin commentary we got to listen to English one.
Although the bar was showing the match between Liverpool and QPR, we chose to skip it and returned to our hotel.
Some freaky stuff happened back at the hotel; when Ying was showering, I received a message from her on Whatsapp. Why would she bring her phone into the bathroom? I thought.
Then I turned around and saw her phone was on the table. Granted that the Wifi was quite spotty, it was still quite freaky.
After Ying was out, I told her about what happened. Apparently she did send me a message but it was quite some time ago. Then later into the night, she swore that she heard an incoming message tone from my phone but I had always set my incoming message notification as silent and no vibration.
Thankfully nothing else happened and we both retired to a rather early night.