Ok… so I’ve made it to stop no. 1 – Shanghai.
Shanghai is simply huge. Massive. Ginormous. 23 million people in 1 city. That’s Australia’s population all stashed into one big-arse city. Shanghai is cosmopolitan. It has history everywhere yet is also very contemporary. Depending on which corner you’ll turn, you’ll find a modern, new-wave, designer-style cafe and outside a father will be holding his child over a gutter with the child’s pants around its ankles, having a pee.
The French Sector – Shanghai (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
Around the next corner someone’s sleeping in a doorway and on the opposite side, outside the bank is a bride and groom posing for photos on a pedestrian crossing. Go figure. It’ all about survival I guess.
The Bund is nearby and we get on one of those 2-storey tourist buses to get a great view and tour of Shanghai. We stop off at one of the touristy areas, Yu Garden and a fabulous marketplace and my expensive digital SLR camera falls out of my backpack, lens first, on to the footpath with a sickening thud. Goddammit. We have only just started. Well, the on-off switch still works but there’s no way that lens cover is going to budge. We need help.
Don’t stand up on the Big Bus – Shanghai (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
We’re walking and talking and attempting to get this bloody stubborn lens cap off but its persistent. It ain’t moving. Witnessing our struggle is a nice-mannered man offering to help. He can’t budge it either and so offers to take us to a camera shop. I’m already sus about this dude in white. Let’s call him John, because that’s his ‘English’ name. We follow him but keep our distance in case we need to make a quick getaway.
Yu Garden – Shanghai (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
We’re lead around different corners, past various shops and alley ways, then up some stairs, sign-posted with all sorts of Chinese symbols. I’m hoping that one of those symbols at least represents a camera shop. But more on that later…
Travel hint no. 1
Fly direct to Shanghai or go via Sydney from Melbourne. Avoid any stopovers. It’s such a drag having to get off the plane after 8 hours to have to go through security all over again, to break any sort of sleep you might’ve had and then to wait another hour and a half for your next flight.
Travel hint no. 2
Take plenty of tissues with you. It’s a hygiene thing. Not all toilets are of western design, nor do they remain stocked with a good supply of toilet paper. You might need to clean up a little before you even think about doing your business.
Travel hint no. 3
Make sure you have travel insurance.
Travel hint no. 4
Stay somewhere in Shanghai where you can have a good, hearty breakfast before you explore the city the next day. There are plenty of places to eat but you’ll burn up your brekkie before you know it.
Breakfast at Astor House Hotel – Shanghai (© Deanna Roberts 2016)