Shanghai Express

Posted: April 29, 2011 in Photography
Tags: , ,

Xintiandi

Stick a bunch of in-breeds in a desert and it’s a horror movie. Put them in a castle and suddenly the whole world tunes in to see their wedding.

In other world events: Lindsay’s and my final day in Shanghai.

Day 8 of the trip was our last in mainland China, and – to counteract the stress and exhaustion of spending the entire previous day on our feet and significant portions of it in the rain – our absolute first port of call was a massage.

Next up, we hit the gym/swimming pool affiliated with our hotel which was absolutely free for guests. They even paid our taxi fare there and back! The only cost: being asked why the fuck we were on the grounds before explaining that we were staying at the Ruijin. Perhaps they were right to question whether we belonged there, however, since the minute we got inside, we found ourselves in direct contravention of the pool rules with Lindsay having forgotten to bring a “bathing cap”. I mean who does that? Thankfully, the surly attendant was able to overlook such a gross oversight and tracked one down for us in the lost and found. We made extra sure to abide by all of the other, in no way arbitrary of ridiculous regulations. (If it’s any indication of how bad my eyesight actually is – minus glasses, that totally looked in focus. Still, “Don’t running and frolic” was too amazing not to include.) I think we definitely endeared ourselves to him later, though, when it emerged that the steam room wasn’t switched on and he had to heat the entire thing just for us. After Lindsay taught me how to swim (I made it across the entire pool without touching the bottom/drowning!) we spent a leisurely day exploring the French Concession and chilling/repacking at the hotel.

More familiar faces! Being completely honest, I think if I’d visited China at some earlier point in my JET career, I would have left with a far more positive impression. My problems with it were grossly exacerbated by the fact that I’d just given up Japan as my home; a country I love and one that’s completely unrepresentative of the rest of Asia. Linds and I spent so much time comparing the two places, and being in China knowing that I wasn’t going back to Japan just made me concentrate so much more on the former’s shortcomings while romanticising everything I missed about the latter. Thankfully, we spent the largest part of trip in Hong Kong, which – I was soon to discover – was a completely different vibe from either Beijing or Shanghai, and one which I enjoyed infinitely more.

Before we left, however, we spent one last night at Xintiandi: that big street o’ bars & clubs from a few nights back. It was so much better when we were actually drinking. Later, we had dinner at a restaurant which did the most amazing tofu and (possibly?) fruit drinks, and got in some quality people watching/stalkerazzi.

And so we bade farewell to Shanghai! Onwards to our final destination – and impending goodbyes – in beautiful Hong Kong…

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