We had a relaxing few days in Bagang with shopping visits to Ürümqi and last Pollo (ever?), before the relaxed start heading off to Ürümqi South in a 7-seater van. There were only 6 of us, but don’t get the wrong idea, we between us had at least one suitcase and backpack each, and the back three seats came at the cost of the boot. If we’d crashed, as Calum helpfully pointed out next to me in the back seat (underneath Kieran’s larger suitcase), we’d probably lose various limbs. Despite arriving at the station with an hour to spare, we were somehow running for the train. The ride was surprisingly smooth until we realised that we were going on the high-speed line (pity we couldn’t go at the higher speed as well to cut down the journey time).
Shanghai felt swelteringly hot stepping off the train, but the humidity can’t have helped; 30 degrees in wet heat is much worse than 40 degrees in dry heat. We met up with Becca and George, both off the train from Beijing, then headed to our hostel. It took a little bit of finding since the entrance wasn’t signposted (always a good omen for a reputable business trying to advertise to customers…) but we got there and got in, then spent the next ten minutes sweating over their desk as they photocopied our passports. Eventually we were set and shown to our pods. Did I not mention? It was a capsule hostel; we weren’t paying for beds, we were paying for a capsule each. It’s literally a wooden box which can be locked when you want to leave the hostel. ‘An experience’. But to do it justice, it was a decent place and the capsule wasn’t uncomfortable (for a short person).
We spent the next few days enjoying the clubs and bars of Shanghai as well as a depressing amount of 24-hour McDonalds. Kieran and Jordanne were staying at another hostel, so I got used to the 20-minute journey along the metro to and from their more centrally located hostel, often enough to use their showers (which were nicer). We didn’t do all that much sightseeing, but I wasn’t too concerned about that, having been twice already. We made the most of the shops and Western brands – there are plenty of posh shopping centres in Shanghai – and I even went for dinner in the Western restaurant section of the French Concession, which was nice. A club promoter also heard that we were looking to celebrate my birthday (not for a few weeks, but we won’t be together when I actually turn nineteen) so we were even brought cake and Champagne at 1am in Luce – quite a surprise!
I had a great time in Shanghai and was sorry to leave on Thursday as we boarded the train to Nanjing. I wasn’t particularly sorry to see the back of the capsule hostel – beds are far superior – but Shanghai has to be my favourite city in China, so I would have liked to stay longer.