Shanghai's nickname is the “Whore of the Orient” and perhaps more kindly – the Paris of the East. And you can see why – its all shiny scrapers and neon lights – a little bit of an Asian Vegas show girl. The hostel is in the Pudong area – the new bit but relatively close to a subway station and as with Beijing - its very cheap and easy to use.
I want to get a closer look at The Oriental Pearl Tower – the most iconic scraper on the skyline that looks like a needle with a big bulbous pearly red middle – or a space ship docking station for The Jetsons. I take Lonely Planet's advie (for once on this trip!) and instead of paying to view it from an Observation deck – go and have a nice cold drink in the restaurant / bar on the 55th floor of the Grand Hyatt hotel. Of course the drink comes in at just under a tenner but its a very civilised way to stare at something when its 40 degrees outside.
The next day I don't have enough time to do the French Concession area – plus the hostel are woefuly inadeqate at providing directions I trust – which is a shame because this part of town with its crumbling colonial facades and up market cafes and bars is supposed to be one of the nicest.
Instead I take a walk around the markets and gardens leading up to the Bund across the water -and then as night falls walk up onto The Bund itself (the river bank area) to get a view of Shanghai's glitzy skyline from the opposite angle. Its absolutely packed with Chinese tourists and a very bored policeman telling people to stop climbing to take a photo. I ignore him to try and get the best shot possible. I love the Oriental Pearl tower which is changing colour at a rapid rate.
I say goodnight to Shanghai – its hot and sweaty, smoky and cramed full of people but the skyline is alluring – another city I notch up to come back and do 5 star...maybe i'll stay at the Grand Hyatt...
The next morning I leave my bag outside reception and check out – getting them to write down the Chinese script for me to show taxi drivers and ticket staff. When I come out I think one of the owner's little dogs has done a pee against my rucksack. Gross. Luckily The Bastard is wearing his new bright orange waterproof protection that i've bought him (I heard that sometimes when bags are put in the hold under buses they come out wet because the overflow from the toilet on the bus has leaked onto them) the dog pee rolls of it and I let the cab driver pick it up to take me to Shanghia station.
God its a glamorous life.
I have decided to go ahead with my month of Martial arts training at Rising Dragon school in Fuian province near the coast. I want to improve my self discipline and mental focus as well as my fitness levels – having not been to the gym for over a year that won't be hard.
I arrive in good time and get the 11hour 11 am bus from Shanghai to Taining – a small town nearest the school. Time for me to get me some discipline....