Shanghai Roamin’

Currently sitting on a crate by myself in the Shanghai Airport. The massive
terminal is silent, aside from the occasional cleaner, stray passenger, and beep from machinery. And of course, my IPod. Nothing like a little Jay Chou to liven up a long, lonely, and eerie night as a hobo.

My journey to get here was insane. Having checked out sleepinginairports.com, I decided to save the hotel money for more escapades. I rushed out amidst a raging rainstorm for an intense taxi ride with a sly two-timing scammer. Many near crashes and arguments later, I made a mad dash for the train station before he could run me over.

I waited in the never-ending line teaming with sweaty Chinese old men . What seemed like eternity later, I purchased the earliest HSR to Shanghai, which left in….4 MINUTES?!!!! Mad dash it was all the way to my seat.

The HSR ride was short and sweet, since I received a lovely call from K. Once in Shanghai, I decided to pay a revisit to XuJiaHui.

Literally as soon as I arrived, my phone died. K’s call depleted all my minutes/data, and there I was cut off from the world. I wandered into one Sham Shui Po-esque electronic store and successfully discovered a shady back shop. Number charged, problem solved.

I roamed alone around Xu Jia Hui, reminiscing about all those summers past. Memories flashed back, happy, painful, exhilarating. I settled down at one of my favorite Starbucks in China and chilled on the patio. Sipping my latte and chomping on Starbucks’ new Chinese rice dumpling, I sat back and enjoyed the view. I chatted with the shy Indonesian exchange student next to me and helped her with Chinese homework.

Next stop was DaPuQiao, destination TianZiFang. Tian Zi Fang is my most loved and most hated place in Shanghai. Loved for its utmost beauty, quaintness, and artistic vibe, and hated for a painful personal memory. As I traversed the intricate narrow alleys adorned with various artistic craft and alternative cafe bars, I realized the memory was but a shadow. I fell in love with Tian Zhi Fang again, as I did every time.

I was reunited with CeCe for dinner. We met four years ago in Hangzhou, and it was so nice to see her again in Shanghai. We decided to try out the adorable Teddy Bear Thailand Restaurant in TianZhiFang, and found ourselves in a building overflowing with a vintage,artsy cuteness and audience of bear bears. For the next 4 hours, we were engaged in amazing conversation.

We walked all over TianZhiFang, enjoying the beauty of the night. At 10 40, we headed to the metro.

The metro was eerily empty, and a lady ushered us to board the last trains, saying the last train to Pudong Airport had ended. Uh oh. CeCe and I parted ways and I embarked on my quest to reach the airport.

I made it to Century Ave, where I slid past gate openings to jump into the train the split second before it closed. My jacket strap caught. Yank!

We continue toward the airport, when the train went pitch black. Everyone got out. I asked and asked, but to no avail. Finally, a nice guy told me to wait. Five minutes later, the train left and a rickety old one with dirty gray floors rolled into the station. We got on.

3 stops later the train came to a complete standstill. People got on, hollering about rides to Pudong since the transfer ends at 10pm daily. They looked unprofessional, but I was in need. Just as I was about to answer, the nice guy pulled me back. He told me about the rigged ‘black car system’ and how they rip you off before letting you leave. We started chatting, and conversation flowed from Shanghai to The Wealth of Nations.

The exit area was virtually deserted aside from tinted unmarked cars and shady hustlers. He walked me to where the legit taxis were, and made sure I was safely on board. Thank you, Yin Chun Zhi!

The taxi driver was a funny and sweet old man, as well as an amazing driver. We chatted about his job, since Shanghai taxi drivers have to drive entire day and night shifts (they get alternating days off). He told me horror stories about the worst customers he’s encountered.

The ride was too short. I bid my new friend goodbye and strolled into my home for the night. Woohoo. I’m off in search of comfy chairs.

M

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