China – Shanghai
There was a moment today when the guy sitting behind me, Paul, said “You know I think I wouldn’t mind living in Shanghai for a year of two”. Without hesitation, I told him I’d thought the same thing earlier in the day. It’s odd, of course, because we’d only been in the city for less than twenty-four hours. Thinking logically about it, it’s probably because of the familiarity of the place. it’s the most “Western” city we’ve visited so far. It’s also reminded me a lot of Sydney. Maybe it’s also the fact that it’s a city based around water that gives the place such a good energy. Obviously we were both jumping to premature conclusions, but one thing I am sure of : I’d like to come back and visit the city again. Maybe for the next International Art Fair?
The organised parts of today’s tour included a trip to the airport and back on the high speed train (reaching 430km/h), a visit to a clothing and electronics market (where I bought a really nice winter jacket at a really good price), a visit to Shanghai Bund, a walk around the city, and a night-time cruise.
“So that’s where all of our coal goes?”, I joked to Sue, as we reflected on the bright city lights of Shanghai. City lights in Sydney (and most other cities) are normally a dull affair of corporate logos and simple colours. In contrast, the city lights of Shanghai are bright, colourful and imaginative. There was a real sense of theatre and occasion, I thought to myself, as we travelled around the harbour.
For the additional cost of 50 Yuan (about $9-10) we paid for “VIP Seating” which meant we got to sit outdoors in a less crowded part of the boat, and an orange juice was even thrown in. Sadly, there was no white wine, so I settled for a beer. Indeed, there’s been an almost complete absence of white wine on the entire trip. In fact, I had an experience the other day which reminded me very much of an episode of The Simpsons. It’s the one where The Simpsons travel to Australia, and was when Marj went into a bar and tried to order a coffee. The barman replied “beer”. The exchange continued between them where Marj kept saying “coffee” (even spelling it out) and the barman replied “beer”. The other day I tried to order a glass of wine in a hotel bar, and a similar exchange ensued.
As we ended the day there was a little bit of sadness in the group, as eight of us (including Sue and I) are ending the trip tomorrow and returning home, while the others are continuing on a four day river trip. “I know I’ll see you in the morning, but I’d still like to give you a hug tonight”, a woman from Adelaide called Carrie said to me, as we entered the hotel lift. There have been some really nice people on the bus with whom we’ve shared some wonderful moments of insight and humour.