Arriving in China

This is an imported post from my travel blog for my China trip in 2006.

So.. this Monday I finally arrived in Shanghai. I must say that I hadn’t quite prepared for going to China, neither mentally nor in terms of packing and fixing all the practical things that need to be done. Travelling to China was a breeze, I slept most of the way and the person sitting next to me was a pretty nice Finnish guy who didn’t speak too much nor was he uncomfortably silent for an 8-9 hour flight.

Anyway I arrived in Shanghai and met up, mostly by luck, with Jianglei – the Chinese girl who is in charge of the “english language summer teaching program” that I’m going to be the waijiao, foreign teacher, in. Just to recap, for those of you who didn’t know, until about 1 1/2 month ago I hadn’t actually planned any trip to China but then Jianglei approached me over MSN and asked me wheter or not I would be interested in working with her. So, I thought: “Why not? An excellent chance to practice Chinese without having too spend too much money – and teaching english would be a lot of fun.”

The first day, which I spent sleeping and taking a stroll around Shanghai, I got to stay in Jianglei’s nice Shanghai apartment. Shanghai is a somewhat odd city. It feels more modern than any western city I’ve seen. There is so much you can say about Shanghai (from just being there one day!!) that I’ll leave it for another post).

Anyway, the second day me and Jianglei went to the “old style district”, a few streets with old – “traditional style” – buildings.. all of which, naturally, where refurbished and fitted with tacky shops selling mostly high-priced jewelry to foreigners. After this visit we went to a local McDonalds to have a drink – I wouldn’t myself have chosen it but she thought it was good since they had air condition… though, I must say it was a good experience – McD in China is truly something for the rich, bald and beatiful ;), with a pricetag of 30 yuan for a meal at McD it’s quite the luxury dinner in a place where your standard lunch goes for 5-6 yuan.

Having cooled down at McD we went to pick up Marten, one of my coursemates from Stockholm University. If Shanghai is bigger than most cities, I would say the train station doesn’t compare to anything else, you could easily fit several thousands in there at a time (they did… constantly!) without it feeling too crowded. Marten had already been traveling around China for 2 weeks or so and was getting quite comfortable here, you can read more about his China experience by clicking the link to the right.

Naturally, after we’d done the excursion to pick up Marten, it was high-time for some rest and a shower (they do insist on lots of rests in china – xiuxi)!

The stop in Shanghai was, though, only temporary as the same day (Tuesday) we were going to continue to Caoxian, the place were I’m going to working and Jianglei’s hometown. The trip to Caoxian consisted of an about 10 hour long train ride through Jiangsu and Anhui provinces and finally to Shandong which is the province where Caoxian lies… after a quite comfortable train ride, sleeping in pretty good bunk beds (three high, six to every “department”) we arrived in Caoxian and was picked up by Jianglei’s father and twin sister which took us on a taxi ride involving running over a dog, sightseeing the old courseof Huanghe (the Yellow river) – a sight of great importance still 300 years after it changed course and a lot of run-down countryside – quite exciting indeed! 🙂

I think this is quite enough for now.. I’ll write more about Caoxian later on.

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