September 6, 2015
Let me tell you a thing about this Shanghai trip:
Almost everything that could have gone wrong, did.
We got out of the door and down our five flights of stairs around 9:30 on Thursday morning. We stopped to pick up breakfast at Cafe 85 (the most amazing bakery- China really knows how to do bread and baked pastries), where I got a french toast-like bread and the yummiest, super-airy, almost whip cream-like cheese cake to go to eat once we got to the train station. After another quick stop at Coco for some drank, we were off to find a bus to take us to the train station. The next couple hours consisted of some walking, a bus ride, more walking, staring from locals, another bus ride or two, and lastly just a shit ton more walking. While it may sound rough, it wasn’t all that bad because I had an A-1 travel group that’s full of entertainment.
TRAIN STATION! At last, we made it to our destination and I had a blister on my foot to prove it. We had little over an hour until our train left, so we trudged into waiting room to relax until then. Finally, after three hours, I was going to be able to eat my delicious cheesecake but when I sat down and opened the box to my snack…. white liquid replaced my cheesecake and my heart fell into the dirty depths of China’s floors. Apparently walking for hours in the sun, humidity and heat melted my snack, so I settled for a granola bar instead. The train ride went by in a blink. On the train, an older Chinese lady that was sitting across from me decided to put her dirty, bare feet upon my seat. As tempting as it was to throw up on them, my gag reflex behaved, and eventually she put them down again. Ahh, China.
SHANGHAI!!! The metro was an uncomprehensible, catastrophic mess within the walls of my mind but after a few rides and interchanging of lines, we made it to the surface and began to explore the streets for our hostel. After another long time walking, we found our hostel but they didn’t have enough beds for all of us so that was real cute. No worries, we found a better hostel later anyway. *hair flip @ first hostel*
After another trip on the metro to get to our new location, the angels above decided to shine their light down and place a glow on the Golden Arches. Never in my nineteen years of life had I ever been so grateful to order a big mac, french fries, and Coke. McDonalds came in clutch, gave me purpose, and I knew I could keep trucking on. America rested on my taste buds and made all of today worth it.
Now, here comes my first epiphany during my time here in China:
We entered our new hostel and my heart must’ve done about 42 backflips. Firstly, there were other tourists… other young, foreign, adventurous souls. The ambiance of the hostel was something I have never felt before. Knowing that this one place holds so many different cultures, languages, backgrounds, and lifestyles was unreal to me and almost incomprehensible.
I always thought that I wanted to travel. I want to see the world, I want to experience different cultures, I want to go new places… Just like what everyone else longs for. However soaking in this foreign environment entirely confirmed my dream then took it to the next level. Something inside my mind and heart clicked; traveling is 100% something I not only just want to do, but something I need to do. There is far too much out there to see and experience, far too many places to explore, and far too many people to meet from all over the entire planet, to not to pursue traveling.
The next day we continued on with our “metro orientation” and went to the Shanghai Wild Animal Park! The highlight of that experience was my couple seconds holding the softest, smallest, and most adorable baby lion cub. I just about melted and disintegrated into love. After the animal park was sushi. I don’t care too much for sushi, but I do like California rolls, and this place here on East Nanijing Rd. did make some mean California rolls. Along with those, I ordered a couple chicken skewers.
After dinner, we headed up East Nanjing Rd to witness the Bund! Walking through the beautifully lit streets with tall buildings and advertisements really made it look like the New York City of China. The Bund was an absolute unreal sight that I can’t wait to see again and again throughout my time here.
Yesterday we went to a knock-off market at the Science & Technology stop in the metro station. I practiced my bargaining skills a bit and walked off with some super cute new things for cheap. Our next stop was the Shanghai train station to make our way to Wuxi to see a massive Buddhist statue. After underestimating the time it took to get food for the train ride, and running to our train, we ended up in Wuxi and paid 100 CYN taxi ride to get to the statue. It was 4:30 pm when we arrived and the Buddha park closed at 5 pm 🙂
If you think that just because it’s the last day and that was the last thing we wanted to do, that we won’t have any more mishaps, you’re mistaken. Just as I was. After an hour bus ride back to the train station, we hopped on our train to go home. Wuxi is super close to Changzhou and what should have been a 30-minute ride ended up being almost two hours because for whatever reason that we don’t know about because we don’t speak Chinese, the train stopped… for long, multiple periods of time.
Okay, two hours later and we’re finally back in our city! All we need is a bus to get back to our school and all will be gravy, right? Wrong. Apparently, the buses close at 10 and it was 10 o’clock when we got back. Ha.. hahaha. HA. There was one bus left that we saw so we hopped on it because of course that had to take us at least somewhat closer to our school, right? However much time later, the bus route ended in a sketchy looking part of town and we had no idea where we were. The bus driver was kind enough to call us two taxis to take us back to our school. We made it back to our school around 11:00 pm. I was absolutely astonished at how wrong things can go, and continue to, even when you think it can’t anymore. Despite the challenges, the weekend was marvelous and I would not change a single aspect of it. We definitely learned a few lessons that we’ll know for our future vacations.
I’ve been learning little by little just how uncomfortable, inconvenient, and straight up ugly traveling can be- most especially this weekend. Nonetheless, I am also learning little by little that this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing and exactly what I want for my life.