Tuesday, February 20, 2007


So after five and a half months of emails, text messages and frustrating internet phones, Clare and I have fiinally been reunited. It was a great but nervous feeling meeting up with her in Shanghai airport and I could not wait to see her again. I really did appreciate the fact that she was flying half way across the wolrd to see me, when she could have just waited 2 weeks for me to get home.

Because of flying in on the 16th we were kind of stuck in Shanghai for a few days. Chinese New Year was on the 17th and transport in and out of Shanghai around was a nightmare. So we were staying until the 20th and then heading off to Chengdu by plane in search of pandas.

Chinese New Year was a strange one. I was expecting huge street parties with performers dressed up as dragons, live music and opera and a huge amount of people celebrating in the open. What we got was basically 48 hours of constant explosions as the whole of China seemed to be letting off fireworks and igniting fire crackers. Somewhat different to our New Year when we go out get drunk and celebrate with our mates. 95% of the Chinese stay in at home and watch the CCTV New Years Countdown and Variety show whilst enjoying a meal with their family. Spring Festival is so important as it may be the only time in the year that people return home to their family homes and so this overshadows the actual passing of new year for many people. Clare was quie lagged from her flight the previous day so we were not up for much any way but we eventually managed to find a restuarant (so much was closed due to New Year) and had a nice meal then came home and tried to sleep through all the explosions-most of which seemed to be coming from right outside of our window, as per normal in China!

On the other days we visited the old town of Shanghai and we saw a few temples and a nunnery- Clare was dissappointed that it was not like the one from "A Sound of Music" I think. The old town was hugely busy due to Spring Festival but it was interesting to walk through the old streets and see how amazingly different it was from the modern Shanghai that everyone pictures n their minds.

The weather we had during the days in Shanghai was not great and often you could not see the tops of the huge sky scrapers as they dissappeared behind a cloud of smog and fog, but at night the city looked amazing. On our last night we had a walk down the Bund and marvelled at the magnificent buidlings and the plethora of colours every where. We took the "Bund Experience" sight seeing tunnel to the other side and then went to the top of the 4th Tallest Building - The Jin Mao Tower 421 Meters Above Gorund Level-in the world in order to get a proper view of the surrounding area. It was fantastic but just as fantastic and twice as nauseating was the view from the top of the 86th floor in the adjacent hotel as you looked down the open stair way all the way to the bottom- my head spins just thinking of it now!

We also looked around the Shanghai museum-which was quite interesting but pretty like most other museums in China with an "amazing" collection of Jade, Porcelain and China- and spent time walking around the Peoples Square area. The only problem that we had was that the hostel that we stayed in was not really a hostel but more of a hotel. The rooms were fantastic but there was no bar and no communal area and even more of a problem was that it was some distance out of whre you really wanted to be so we had to catch loads of buses, taxis and tubes.

I think we both enjoyed our time in Shanghai, as I said above it would have been better if we were more central and had more people our age to go out with, but at the same time I think it was nice for Clare and I just to be able to catch up with one another again.

Next Place: Chengdu!

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