A Travellerspoint blog

Frozen feet, lots of meat, and a damn good deal on beats

snow 30 °F

Well this morning started very early. At approx 3am I wake up to find misty blogging...I had a very foggy Skype chat with my sister and her family, and at some point I was taking pictures out the window. I must've been still asleep because I did all this, crawled back in bed and was out until about 8am. This day was full of wanderings. We decided to try and find our next hostel without our huge backpacks, which was a fantastic idea because of the amount of circles we walked in. It took the whole damn day. But I will start at the beginning.
8am, I awake to misty looking out the window. Once she sees I'm awake she goes "Kacey there is meat outside our window!" Uh, ok? Like for us to eat orrrr...? She goes no there is raw meat just sitting there...come look! Oh wait it's gone now. It was a very strange conversation to have first thing in the morning, but thankfully she took a picture and I got to witness this mysterious meat hanging outside our window. It took us a while to get going and we left by about 10:30. We were both starving and decided to find a cheap lunch. We went to a beef hot pot restaurant. We tried to order in Chinese with the 7 year old running the cash register, but my Chinese wasn't adequate and he brought his mom over. I ordered chicken, and misty beef. It cost us both about $2 usd. Cheap and good good food. Big bowls of soup with noodles and a weird egg. I avoided the egg.
Next we went and browsed through some shops. We eventually made it to the people's square, which is really more like a huge rectangle. It's blocks and blocks of shopping, but you walk in the street, avoiding the trolley. First however we went into the 4 story forever 21 in search of "shou tao" or In English, gloves. My hands were nearly frozen, and it snowed off and on all day. No luck in forever 21, but we eventually found some at a place on the street. We continued meandering on our way, the whole time looking for south jiangxi street. So, we did what we thought best. W snuck in the back of the Mariot, pretended to be staying there, stole their English map, and found our street!! It was right along the river, very pretty and more of a walk way then a street, it's going to take a lot of effort to walk there tomorrow though with our bags, so I'm a little worried.
The outside of the new hostel is awesome! You have to walk down this concrete walkway with big plants on oneside, they have an outside terrace garden thing, and a batt mitten net. I will post pictures of the front soon, because its really hard explain. We were planning on getting four nights, but they were full and we only ended up with two. We are staying in a 6 bedroom dorm and it only costs $10 a night.
We walked back petting dogs and sometimes saying hi to locals. We ended up back on the Main Street where all the shopping was, we tried to go to the museum but it was closed for the holiday. We did get a Starbucks though, a peach tea latte!! SO GOOD!
Then
I
Saw
Them
Beats headphones by Dr.Dre, which cost close to $300 in the US. I had to try my hardest not to buy them before I left. And here they were, waiting to be bartered for, the man started with ¥600 right out the gate. I had to act like that was an outrageous price, Yea no way. too expensive, that would be $100. In my head( OMFG only $100??????)
So I kinda looked interested and casually said, no too expensive, eventually we were battering back and forth, and I remember saying "我是大学生, 我没有很多钱." I am a college student I don't have much money. And he goes, oh ok since you are college student I will give them to you for ¥400, $60. Later when we were in a store getting a phone for misty, I found beats and they only cost ¥460, I feel like I could have bargained the first guy a little lower.
We headed back to the hostel, I listened to my new head phones, they had scuff marks on them and I can tell they are not brand new, possibly a floor model, but who cares?? My headphones broke on the plane over anyways.
We decided it would be fun to check out the bund next. It's an old water front street, with very French style buildings. It was snowing SO hard, and so unbelievably cold. Thankfully misty had bought some masks, so our faces were nice and warm, my feet were soaked through. The bund was cool, but there was so much snow you could hardly see across the water! The coolest part was that they had an exact replica of the the bull in New York, it was made by the same guy, and so they decided to have one in shanghai's financial district as well.
We peaked in a few shops on the way home, but I was ready to get warm and dry. Once back I took a shower cleaned up my things, ran downstairs to eat dinner and crashed at about 9pm.
I just woke up on Saturday morning, it's a out 8:30am. The buildings Are covered with snow, but it is sunny!! Now the smog is noticeable, it would be a bright blue clear sky, but you can stare directly at the sun with out being blinded. I wonder if smog increases the risk of getting sunburned? I guess we will see! We're out to get breakfast and make that 30 min walk to our next hostel.
Bye for now!

Posted by Kaceyroo 16:19 Archived in China Tagged snow shanghai bund bartering Comments (2)

CHINA!

snow 28 °F

First of all Shanghai is not what I expected at all, there are tons of farmland and factories, no huge urban buildings. We landed and I turned my phone on, it worked! This was a huge load off my chest. I made it through security which was great! I was mostly worried about my visa, but everything went smoothly. I grabbed my bag from the baggage claim, which led to a lot of staring. I got in the customs line, more staring. Managed to get all of my things through their security conveyor belt and carry my backpack out the exit. It was only then I had a security guard running after me yelling "your passport your passport!!! I have to see your passport!!!" Oops. Oh that definitely enticed more staring. I waited right outside immigration for misty to arrive. I say next to three old Chinese men. I could tell they were curious about me, and would glance at me every so often. But I'm sure they didn't speak English and assumed I didn't know Chinese. I should've rambled off a few 您好's just to see their shocked faces.
Misty's flight was an hour or so after mine. I spent my time reading the second book in the game of thrown series. So good. So happy I have it with me, 1000 pages and all. We met up without a hitch, and used my phone to call the hostel for directions. Take metro 2 to Nanjing rd, take exit 6. Sounds easy enough. First thing I learned about China, be prepared for anything on the metro. We had to buy our tickets, I wasn't willing to trust my Chinese to get us to the right stop so we found our stop in English and bought our tickets, ¥7 a piece ~$1.20. Then we had to put our bags through security again and I caused a compete traffic jam at the end, not being able to put my bag on quickly, there were angry shouts and pushing and for a second I thought I was to be trampled. I'm ok though, I dragged myself out of the mess and recouped and headed to the metro.
You know what you've always learned as a kid and especially prominent at 4 way stops is "let others go first." Ok I want you to take that, put it in a box in a locked closet and ignore it. You have to be in full survival mode, you have to have the mentality as I want on or off the metro as much as you do, and push your way through. Chances are you won't get a seat unless you push, although some very nice old man kept saying "坐,坐" (sit, sit), but our bags were too awkward to sit and he was old and deserved a seat, so we returned with a polite 不坐. Only later did I hope I used the right word to negate 坐.
If you ever plan on going to shanghai and taking the metro, I have one very important piece of advice for you. You have to transfer, or you go back to the airport, so when the announcer says next stop "世纪大道" and everyone starts heading for the door, don't think it's because they all live there, they don't. Thankfully some nice man told us when he saw us starting to get comfortable on our seats. "It's transfer, you go back to airport!" He yelled at us in broken English and misty and I had to fight our way through the crowd of oncoming people. We followed the mob and got on the parallel train and we were on our way again. We got off at Nanjing road E. made our way up the escalator, and we had to use our tickets again. Important piece of advice #2, keep your ticket. Thankfully I found mine after frantically searching for a few minutes and we made it out of the cattle gates and to a map. Let the wandering begin. We found our exit and had to ask multiple security guards where exit 六 was. The metro had originally started above ground, but for the last 15 min of our journey it was underground. We were nervous of the city that was awaiting us, as when we were on the metro there were only very run down farm houses and old crumbling buildings, we were hoping we weren't staying in the wrong area of shanghai, but Asa we made it up the escalator we were greeted with a 5 story forever 21. Yup we were in the city. We tried asking a few security guards where jiangxi road is. I didn't understand their Chinese response and they didn't understand English. S we winged it and headed down Henan road. I eventually found an older gentleman and asked him in Chinese where to go, he must've lived nearby because he knew the name of our hostel and exactly where it was, and told us the way. I'll be honest, I was nervous. The streets we filthy, trash everywhere, pee in the road, etc, and we were getting further and further from our urban little center. We however, were pleasantly surprised when we were greeted by a lobby filled with plants and a dark wooden floors and interesting booths. It sounded like I heard a pool table when I walked in, but to be honest I have been sleeping and recuperating in our room, so I haven't explored quite yet. We are on the third floor.
I can't help but think of memories of a geisha walking to our room. If Yu have read the book or seen the movie, the inside of our hostel looks like that. image

image

Dark dark creaky wooden floors, dark green walls, pretty dimly lit, but clean and safe looking, and BIG! There were rows and rows of rooms. Some rooms in the middle must have been dorms, because they had windows with opened up with floral curtains. We thankfully had a room right on the street with a view of the Shanghai tower. We chose to stay in a single and have two wood framed twin beds, and rocks for mattresses. Misty and I both woke up this morning, sore from the walk yesterday and hard beds. We have our on private bathroom as well, and if you take a shower during the shower times you end up with a very hot water pressured shower. The toilets are like Greece in that they don't want any toilet paper being flushed, but hey the toilet paper is provided, which is more them what i expected. I took a shower, and finally got to change my clothes curled up in bed and fell asleep by about 8pm our time. We awoke to a light dusting of snow and some random yelling outside, now we are planning out our day and where we want to stay tomorrow night. We should also probably both eat breakfast as we were so tired last night neither or us wanted to leave in search of food, so we ate some chocolate bars and leftover brownies from my sister.
More pics and stories to follow! <3

Posted by Kaceyroo 17:26 Archived in China Comments (5)

In the beginning...

snow 30 °F

Well, here we are. Shanghai! First off, the smog....not even noticeable. The cold and the snow on the other hand. So i guess I will start at the beginning of the trip and give you all a blow by blow.
Day 1:
The night before was spent packing and unpacking, then repacking. I have decided to make the bold and oh so original decision to travel via backpacking backpack. I call it these things because of the looks I have gotten at the airports in Asia, or maybe they are staring at me because I'm so tall, but the staring....it is something I will have to get used to. Anyways, I left my mom in tears at security (like I always have the past few years) but it was probably the smoothest good bye yet. Made it to my gate with hoursssss to spare. First I went and got some money exchanged. $60USD for 60,000 won and $400USD for ¥2400, then bought some trail mix for the plane. There was an abnormal amount of military men on my flight, but sadly I didn't get seated next to them. I was in the very very last row, and the woman sitting next to me was asleep for the entire 12 hour flight. Only when we were landing did I realize she was a replacement stewardess. Which brings me to my next point. I have one word to describe korean air stewardesses (or stewardi?), and that word is, bows. Yup, bows. Huge bows in their hair huge bows on their aprons, scarfs around their necks tied in enormous bows...just bows, everywhere. And not to sound racist, but they all looked alike, they looked like clones with bows. The food was good for airplane food, but the movies, that was some high quality shit. I watched pitch perfect, boom, perks of being a wallflower ( spoiler alert its unbelievably sad) a bunch of friends episodes and ruby sparks. Then I got bored with watching films and started studying Chinese but that just presented a lot of provoking questions from passer byes. Not that I don't like talking, but the whole plane is quiet and this lady is yelling in Chinese at me about how bad my tones are. Lol lesson learned.
The plane landed in Korea at 6pm their time, approx 1am US time. I was really concerned about not being able to meet up with misty and was starting to feel really anxious but somehow her flight made it to Korea before mine and she was waiting for me at my gate! We went through customs and security and headed outside into the frigid 14 degree weather to wait for our bus. Bus #6011. According to the instructions we were supposed to ask to get off at sungkyunkwan, and it was after chungkyunkwan, only there was a chungunkwan,and a cunkunkwan, and about every other possible variation of that name, so we tormented the people next to us about whether or not we passed our stop or how long it was till our stop when the guy finally broke down and said he was Chinese, didn't know korean and had no idea where our stop was. But the guy behind us did! :)
We hopped off the bus and were supposed to look for the dunkin donuts sign, it was right next to the Starbucks and right across the street from Subway, (welcome to Korea?). We walked past dunkn donuts, turned right at cucurucu chicken and we arrived at our first hostel, backpackers inside. Probably one of the nicest hostels I've stayed in yet. Backpackers inside

Backpackers inside

And. The people there were sooooo nice. We were walked up this dark stairway and came to this little cheerful looking door with a rainbow on it that said have a nice day, and a pile of shoes at the door. The walls were made of what looked like plywood and they had fabric draped over the living room, very quaint and cozy. Flashing little Christmas lights and cute sheets.
The girls we were staying with we're so friendly. Two were from Taiwan, and two were from mainland china. All were confused why we were away from our families during the spring festival and it was hard to explain that it isn't as big as a deal in the US. They kept saying but you will be so lonely! We made up our beds, and headed for dinner. By this time it was pushing 10pm and about 5 degrees outside.
Dinner was a crackup to say the least. First we went into a place and after a lot of pointing and gesturing realized this Cold cold street

Cold cold street

place only served intestines. Usually I would be up to try anything but it was late, I was jet legged, and hungry, so that was a no. The place right next door though was awesome. It had a huge fake cherry tree in the middle of the room with cherry blossoms and pictures of friends on the branches. It was small and packed, but seemed like where a lot of the locals went ( actually min, the owner of the hostel was there). We snagged a table and after much deliberation and confusion decided to semi-blindly order. The menu was in English and Japanese, and lucky for me misty knew the Japanese word for chicken, but sadly not garlic. She chose a small dish that said 'two pieces' from what we think said appetizers and I went with the chicken. 10 min later these two bowls came out. I still don't know what it was, but one was a bunch of tiny squares and tasted like fish. They were this strange purple gray color and spicy. The other bowl had what looked like dried mango slices in it, but it was some sort of pickled crunchy thing. Cabbage maybe? Then my chicken came out, imagine a huge bowl of friend chicken nugget things with shredded cabbage and some sort of creamy dressing, it came with two sauces, well...one sauce and one pile of MSG. It was amazing. But after about 5 min Misty's food still hadn't came out. By now we were convinced that she had ordered the orange and purple thing or just ordered two sauces. And then it came. A smallish plate with two 3 inch skewers, stacked with cloves of garlic. I don't know if it was because we were so tired, but we laughed, hard. We finished up headed back to the hostel and grabbed our cameras, then headed down some cool alley ways to take photos. It was so cold, I don't think I have ever been in weather that cold before. It was about 4 degrees Fahrenheit. We scurried back to the warm hostel and I immediately crawled into bed. We eventually woke at 7 packed our things, ate some scrambled eggs that they made for us, made some new friends ( from Nanjing!) and headed on our way. We stopped at dunkn donuts for coffee and well, a donut. Lol I had never been to a DD before Korea, so I have nothing to compare it too, but my caramel machiotto was nice and the people working there were very nice. We headed across the street to wait for the airport limousine and were on our way.
Once we got to the airport we did all that normal checking in stuff, blah blah I was behind the US specially Olympics team going through security though which was kinda cool. I boarded my plane, ate some really good chinese food and landed in Shanghai.

Posted by Kaceyroo 17:19 Archived in South Korea Comments (1)

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