Day 10: Planes, Trains and Foreign Laundry Machines

Frank and Chris on the Shanghai subway and ladies with cool purses and sunglasses

Frank and Chris on the Shanghai subway and ladies with cool purses and sunglasses

Sunday, April 12, 2013

Late morning:

None of us slept well last night. Though we were back from dinner around 20:30 and had plenty of time to pack and get ready for the next day, Yangshuo was not ready for a quiet night in. There was a loud cacophony both inside and outside the hostel until the wee hours. Chris won’t relent and just take the pills, but I have to. The beds from hell!

We woke up at 4:00. No, more accurately we stood up because we were already awake. We got the taxi on time. The tourist office girl had warned us we needed 2 hours to get to the airport. The driver proceeded like a bat out of hell. He had a little screen in the front dash and he played this DVD of Ibiza but with a soundtrack of Asian techno. It wasn’t even a full-length video, it was a few minutes of the same images on loop and there were only about four songs. Over and over it droned on. It was ridiculous. We had to ask him to turn it down. It was surreal. Frank was right, he got to the airport in an hour.

But guess what? The airport was closed! The driver said to go downstairs, it was open down there. At this point, Chris is really getting grumpy. We schlep all our crap downstairs and it’s also not lit up, but we see some Chinese people waiting inside, so we try to open the door. The police officer there said we couldn’t go in. ARGH!

We waited for half an hour. There were no benches, and it was quite cold. Eventually they let us in at some magical, arbitrary minute when the airport opens.

We love taking pictures of airports and airplanes

We love taking pictures of airports and airplanes

Typical behavior. Everyone runs around like ferrets, bossy, pushing to the front, somewhat senseless. We waited again until 6:30 for the China Southern desk to open. Then we scoured the airport for anything to eat, but am tired of over-paying for lackluster-to-bad food. Even if it’s cheaper relatively, still money to spend.

Sorry for the blurry picture of police cadets, I was nervous about whether it was okay to snap photos of them so I didn't stop or adjust the flash

Sorry for the blurry picture of police cadets, I was nervous about whether it was okay to snap photos of them so I didn’t stop or adjust the flash

We have also decided I am Gollum, Chris is Sam and Frank is Frodo. Sleep-deprivation.


The flight was full, but thankfully not delayed. As usual, we were able to sit together. We took the metro from the airport since we had time.

Shanghai subway

Shanghai subway

The subway ride is cheap, but without riding the Maglev, it took an hour and a half to get back to the hostel. They had rooms, Shanghai City Center International Youth Hostel is a big place. Still, without reservations you’re taking a chance. Frank got a double room and we decided on the twin room so we could have separate beds. Later, when we saw Frank’s room, we regretted it because his bed is really soft. Oh, well. Someday we’ll remember to ask.

We decided to go ahead and get laundry done first. Much to our disappointment, they didn’t have a service anymore. It was an elaborate system of a token for the washer, coins for the dryer, and the instructions were wrong. That meant instant coffee and mystery snacks from the corner shop and hanging out in Frank’s room waiting to de-stinkify our clothes.


We finally escaped laundry duty for a Yunan-style dinner. Frank said that style of cooking is good, so when we spotted it from the street he insisted we try it. It was quite good – spicy! – but one of the dishes actually had ground pork, which I didn’t realize until I’d eaten quite a bit of it.

I'll pass

I’ll pass

Shanghai street noodles

Shanghai street noodles

After dinner, we strolled the extravagant, flashy, decadent, touristy excess that is the French Concession. We decided to have a drink, so I picked a place called Fountain, next to a big fountain. We had 3 drinks for 32 USD. Chris got to pay with a credit card. What a rip off. 200 RMB was more expensive than our dinners. But that’s the French Concession for you. Frank pointed out two kids at a table nearby who’d ordered champagne. The new money class of China.

After that we walked around looking for another bar, something cheaper. Frank had a vague memory of a place, but after looking at maps on his smartphone and blind wandering, we gave up. We took a cab back to the hostel and flopped down at the now-familiar rickety tables in its cheap bar. Whiskey and then sleep.

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