So, onward from Mongolia and into China. The great firewall is no joke, it’s very real and makes the internet a tricky place to navigate. Nothing to do with Google will work here. My phone runs entirely on Google based software so it barely even connects.
We have been sorely let down by our travel agent and tour operator and arrive just before the start of Golden Week. We had no prior knowledge of this until a few days before we left Mongolia. It’s a national holiday where everyone outside of the service industry is off work. It’s also the 70th birthday of modern China. Had we been told the effect it would have on our trip, we would have replanned around it. It’s not a problem here in Shanghai on the saturday we arrive as it’s late and we just want to find our hotel and sleep. Finding our hotel without Google maps or an internet connection of any kind proved difficult, I’m realising how much I rely on google even if it’s just an offline map of a city.
The real challenge came when we checked in and the staff knew almost no English. Everywhere else in Asia we have ever been, we simply hand over our passports, pay the fee we booked online for and receive a room key. Here, a passport results in baffled looks. They seemed to have no idea we had booked, let alone what, or for how long. We had no internet to go onlone to check either. Whilst the hotel has WiFi, you need a Chinese phone number in order to receive a verification code by text to join it. Somehow, we got a room for the price we had booked for and much less than the price advertised at the desk.
Sunday was a much better day. We have an English friend who lives here and she gave us the inside track on some highlights of Shanghai, which is a huge city.
We ventured to a shopping district with street food and trendy shops. We went to the mall and saw the skyscrapers and the Pearl, that shape the Shanghai skyline.
Public transport here is really cheap, we caught a bus and a ferry across the river for about 50p each. We ate our first peking duck of the trip in a restaurant with some excellent service. We refrained from eating the head though despite our waiter carefully scooping out the contents for us.
We walked to the river and saw the light show from the buildings on the opposite side. It wasn’t as busy as we expected either. Though looking back, I can see the calm before the storm now.
We parted ways with our host and headed back to the hotel on the metro. The underground railway is so easy to use and cheaper than London, that taxis were out of the question. Tomorrow, our real holiday begins. An early start is required for Shanghai Disneyland!