This is the second part of my trip to Shanghai.
The trip to Shanghai was fairly uneventful. We did take a ferry across the Yellow(?) River, but we weren't able to leave the bus, and it didn't take that long.
Once we got into Shanghai, though... My, what a difference! The areas of China that Paul and I live in are much darker than back home. There are fewer lights, and they aren't nearly as bright. Shanghai, though, is basically the New York of China, and is bright! Lots of Neon lights and flashing lights and all sorts of things. We stared out the darkened windows of the bus and tried to figure out where we were on the map in my guide book.
We passed quite a few Western fast food chains on the way. KFC was definately the most popular, but we also passed a McDonald's, which is where we decided to eat. What can I say, I was curious as to what it would be like, and how it would taste.
So, we got off the bus, got multiple offers for taxis, and walked back to the McDonald's.
In France, the McDonald's have statues and serve beer. In China... hmm... Remember about 10 or 15 years ago when McDonald's were all tight places with bright colours? (I know, not all that different to how they are now, but the colour schemes and layout were to get out in and out quickly, and now they've changed that so you linger.) It's not quite like that, but very similiar. Hard to explain. However, the menu was the same, and they had us point to what we wanted on a little menu they kept near the cash registers for us non-Chinese speaking people. I had my usual, a McChicken Burger combo. It, and the fries, were less spiced than they are at home.
After we finished (I felt so much better, I hadn't eaten since breakfast and this was getting on into the evening), we started trying to find a cab. I'm still not sure if the etiquette in China has people hailing cabs on the street, but we'd passed a taxi stand on the way, and stood in line for a little while, still trying to figure out where we were on the map. Like I said earlier, we'd picked out a hotel (well, I picked out a hotel). Finally I asked the woman standing in front of us, and she spoke very good English, and was able to confirm where we were. She also warned us that we would probably have little luck getting a cab there. She and her companion were going to try someplace else.
Paul and I talked about it, and decided to go back to the bus station. Still lots of cabs, and guy came up to us and offered to help us find where we were going. I think the word is "tout", but I'm not positive. First he took us to the hotel I had picked out, but they were apparently all filled up. Then he said "Hey, I have a couple of places you can go" (okay, he didn't, because his English wasn't that good, but that's the idea). He gave us a couple of price options, and we picked the least expensive at 400 RMB a night. We finally got there (forienger's tax... we took the scenic route), and got a room with very little difficulty. The tout got a bonus from them for bringing us. *smile* But, the girls at the desk spoke very good English, and our room was comfortable, at least.
However, NO CLOCK!
I think there's a law or something against clocks in China. None of the hotel rooms I've stayed in have one. I'm going crazy.
Anyway, Paul and I dropped off our stuff, got changed, and decided to hit the town, have a beer, whatever. Just something to relax. We went back down to the front counter and asked about possible bars in the area, but I guess there aren't any near there. We grabbed another cab, and were finally able to explain what we wanted. We drove... and drove... passed lots of places, but decided we wanted to see where the guy was taking us. Because, if you're going to get sold into White Slavery, you want to see the place first, not just get knocked out, and dropped off, right?
We eventually pulled up in front of a strip of bars, and started looking around. All of them seemed busy, playing different music, and we weren't really sure where we wanted to go. Finally we just picked one and walked in.
There was a young woman wearing a wig at the front, who asked us how many there were (2), and lead us to an area and invited us to sit down. Until that moment, it had slipped my mind. It was Halloween.
Paul tells me that Halloween is just coming to New Zealand, and isn't a big deal there. The only people we saw in costumes were the bar staff at the bars we went to. Me, I missed Halloween, and I'm still kinda sad about it. Last year I dressed up like Medusa (thanks Kris!), and had a great time, even though I was at work.
Anyway, we had a couple of beers and I danced while Paul stared blankly at the dance floor. (That is to say, I stood next to Paul dancing. They were playing Salsa music. It was a live band. I can't dance. So I danced around by myself. I laughed a lot.)
Then we decided to move on, and went to the bar right next door. Same building. There they had a live band singing music from the states, but I can't remember the song at all. After a couple of songs, they played a dance number, and four very bored young ladies wearing... very very little... came out and "danced". Yes, they kept their clothes on, but all they did is undulate a lot. It wasn't very interesting. I had a shot called "Angel's Kiss", and then we started walking up and down the strip again, trying to find another place to check out.
We walked up and down a few times, but no place really reached out and gripped us, so we walked down the streets a few blocks, looking at things and trying to get back to a few of the places we'd passed earlier in the evening, but finally gave up, hailed a cab, and got back to the hotel. There, we bought ice cream and went to sleep.