Shanghai encompasses all that is considered exotic, enigmatic and exciting about the mystical east viewed through the eyes of a westerner . However one quickly comes to the conclusion that it is also a very dynamic and exciting burgeoning metropolis. Admittedly once one has taken in the major tourist sights the city becomes  rather like most other modern centres of population. Checked in to the Blue Mountain Youth Hostel.
Buying rail tickets in the rail station In Shanghai is an experience that invites a cold sweat to engulf one’s body. The journey would take 16 hours! Rail tickets do not go on sale until ten days before departure. There is no such thing as ” online purchase”. One arrives at the one foot square ticket office window “Bright eyed and bushy tailed” gripping the slip of paper in ones hand that bears the train time and destination. Attempting to speak to the teller is pointless. By this time 15 to 20 people have joined you, (Personal space is not an option in China),all screaming instruction to the long suffering teller. It’s evocative of the scene from “Dantes Inferno” where the lost and foresken scream for salvation from impending everlasting damnation . Just a little “heads up” folks! 
Anyhow, on the day, took a taxi to the station. Got ripped off there by a slick well oiled group who lead travellers to believe that the porter service provided was “in house”. This prompted us to develop our own well honed “Counter measure” game plan when leaving a taxi.
<img
src=”http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2a/Shanghai_railway_station_south_side_plaza_20090721.jpg/230px-Shanghai_railway_station_south_side_plaza_20090721.jpg&#8221; alt=”Shanghai railway station south side plaza 20090721.jpg” />
Arrived in Xian seventeen hours later after a fairly uninteresting journey. I say uninteresting because the landscape is flat and featureless excepting huge development projects that had either ceased, were on going at reduced levels of intensity or merely languishing in a state of atrophy. Xian is an ancient fortress city and there are parts that are charming. The cycle ride around the city wall is a must. The Terracotta warriors are enigmatic andalsoa must.
The first Chinese emperor, Qin Shi Huang (210 BC) initiated the construction
in order to protect him for his trip in the “after life”.
Now a 17 hour train journey down to Yichang was contemplated in order to undertake a 4 day Yangtse river cruise up to Chongqing .
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