We took the bullet train from Huangshan to Shanghai without much issue. We stayed in a hostel that was by a metro station making it easy to get to. The first night on arriving we had some beers and shisha at the hostel bar then heading into the city to see the bund.
Shanghai (上海) , with a population of more than 23 million (with over 9 million migrants), is the largest and traditionally the most developed metropolis in Mainland China.
We went and had dinner at Captain’s bar overlooking the bund- it was a wet night but we had a really good time. Unfortunately later that night we couldn’t find the kobo’s (our ereaders we had been using during the trip), we must have left them on the train. This was a real life disaster.
The next day, Issy felt a bit ill (read hungover again), we needed to get some food into her. We had heard of a Shanghai food specialty sesame, chili noodles, and found a cheap restaurant with a Michelin recommendation (not a star but still). It was delicious, but the restaurant was quite interesting.
It was a very popular local restaurant were you paid for what you wanted on entering and got given the receipt with your order, you then had to stand beside tables of people eating there food waiting for somewhere to sit- like waiting for a go on the swings at the playground. Only once you had your seat would the waitress come and take your receipt and bring you noodles. As soon as you had finished eating, you had to give up your seat to someone else vying for a table to be able try these rich, creamy, spicy sesame noodles.
A lot of the rest of the day was spent trying to locate our kobos, we were very intent on getting them back as in less than a week we would be getting on the trans-Siberian railway and we saw having a book/ereader essential for this travel so we don’t go insane/get annoyed at each other sitting for so long on trains. I won’t bore you with the details but long story short we didn’t get them back. We were very sad.
We tried to save the day with a nice evening- and save the day we did! We went on a river cruise through Shanghai and it was amazing. See the photos below:
The next day we went to the Yu Garden (great!), and tried to go up the shanghai observatory but it was too foggy so we couldn’t, but on a positive side we did get to see the Shanghai Ball tower upclose.
We left on the overnight train to Beijing at 7:30pm that night.
In Beijing we stayed at a hostel called Sunrise hostel- the price of accommodation in Beijing was more than other cities we stayed in and our $50 a night room was actually pretty average (small and a bit smelly). We went to Mao’s mausoleum in Tiananmen square the next day- boy it was BUUSSSY. Domestic tourism is popular in China and it seemed everyone wanted to be in Tiananmen square to see Mao and the forbidden city. Mao mausoleum was interesting- no bags or cameras allowed, you had to shuffle through in a silent, orderly line to see Mao. I did a bit of reading before we went and found out that Mao himself had apparently wanted to be cremated however the man that succeeded him in power decided a mausoleum where he could be put on show indefinitely was in order. Mao was apparently embalmed by his personal doctor who had little experience in it- rumor has it he didn’t do a very good job and that it is in fact a wax statue of Mao in the glass coffin rather than Mao himself. The Chinese man in charge of construction of the mausoleum etc wrote a book about it which was promptly banned in China.
That evening we went out to a popular hutong (a neighborhood in Beijing made of one story buildings with small avenues). It was busy with tourist shops, bars, street snacks, and restaurants set along a river. We found ourselves in an amazing hot pot restaurant and proceeded to eat until we thought we might explode. P
We were lucky enough to find kindles that we could buy in Beijing for our train trip, which made us very happy.
We started our trip on the trans-mongolian train early the next day, loaded with instant noodles, chips, and chocolate…