The nice thing about Shanghai Pudong airport (there are at least two airports I think in Shanghai) is that everything is written in English and Chinese. And most employees speak English as well. We got off the plane and needed to use the bathroom; thankfully, they were all Western-style. There were little rolling carts waiting for us to use for our luggage which was really nice because our carry-ons were crazy heavy. Going through customs was very easy. They had about 6 people working so the line moved quickly. They just needed an entry form they gave us on the plane, our luggage tickets, and our passports. They took our picture and sent us on our way. We were though in about 30 minutes.
One funny thing that happened, was I noticed a sign that said “no cell phones, be quiet,” but there was a young American fellow ahead of us that was talking very loudly on his cell phone. I thought about tapping him on the shoulder when we passed by and telling him to shush (he was even being loud by my standards, and I can talk pretty excited on my phone), but I didn’t. I figured he would hang up soon enough. Well, he didn’t. A few minutes later I heard yelling up ahead. “You think you the only person here! You no respect!” “Ok, Ok, dude, calm down, ask nicely.” “I did ask nicely! You ignored me!” The American was being yelled at by an older Chinese man. A security guard had to come over and tell him to calm down and for the American to hang up his phone. Then the American was rude and upset, but I think he was trying to cover up his embarrassment. Stupid American, making us all look bad. Oh well.
Anyway, the Delta employees when they took our checked baggage did not tell us that we would have to pick up and recheck our bags in Shanghai. Thankfully, when we checked in for our transfer flight in LAX, the Chinese agent told us. I thought our luggage would just meet us in Guilin. I am going to write a complaint letter to Delta tomorrow and tell them that their agents need to make sure people know when to pick up their luggage. Had we not known, we would have left the luggage in Shanghai. We got the bags, but were not sure what to do with them, lol. We had a 22 hour layover and did not want to spend it at the airport, so I had made arrangements at a hostel. But we could not take our luggage all the way across town, it was too heavy (we both took two 50 pound checked bags and 2 oversized carry-ons we managed to sneak in, but I don’t think we will be doing that again). So we tried to check in for our flight early so we could maybe go ahead and check our bags, but they wouldn’t let us. So we went to a baggage depository and put them in storage lockers. That cost us 140 RMB ($23) for the overnight storage (which was good because he actually quoted me 220 RMB). So now we were off to find our hostel.
I didn’t know ahead of time where to get on the metro or how or how far it was. But, like the airport, everything at the Metro is in English. I knew from the information the hostel sent me that we would take the #2 metro line to the BeiXinJing station. For some reason I thought this was not far. Something I read said it was like two stops or stop #2 or something from the airport. But turned out I was wrong, lol. It was all the way at the other end of the metro line on the other side of the city. The metro system is very easy to use. There are digital kiosks at every station. You just click English on the top right of the screen. You then tell it what line you want, what stop, and how many tickets. To go from one end of the line to another was only 8 RMB ($1.30) each ticket. The metro is a subway system except for a few places it becomes an elevated train. The stops are all in Chinese and English and even the PA system announcing the stops is in both languages. It took an hour and a half to get to our stop. We then had to walk about a block to the hostel. It was very easy to find since they had sent me a map.
When we got there, everyone spoke English and they seem to cater to Americans. But there were lots of Chinese guests since people from all over the country are coming in for the World Expo. We got the most expensive room the hostel had because I wanted a private room with a private bathroom. It was 300 RMB ($50). The room was kind of small, but it had a king sized bed which I did not expect. When they called it a double-bed, I expected a full size. But, it was hard as a rock. It did have fluffy pillows, though. The room had air conditioning, but it was not turned on beforehand. The Chinese are very frugal with electricity. You have to use an electronic key card to open the door and then put the key card in a slot to open the door. If you leave the room, you have to take the key card with you which turns off the electricity, and thus the air conditioning (we found out later from Derek, though, that any credit card sized card will keep the electricity on lmao, but we didn’t know that at the time). We had planned to see Shanghai, go to the river or see an acrobat show, but we were so hot and exhausted by the time we got there we showered and rested for a bit. We did start to feel a little better so we went down to take a walk. It was about 11:00 by this time. We walked around the block and took in the city. It was just like any other large city. It was hot, dirty, and loud. It was not as crowded as I had feared, but it was late at night. It was not the best neighborhood, but we did see several young Chinese girls walking by themselves so we figured that the neighborhood must not be too dangerous. Even though it was late, there were lots of little shops open, mainly spas and convenience stores. We went in several convenience stores looking for Coke and mountain Dew. We found lots of Coke, Sprite, 7-Up, Pepsi, and Orange Fanta…but no Mountain Dew. But I like Orange Fanta, so I got that. The Coke and Fanta taste the same as in the States. I found out today that they have lots of Mountain Dew in Shandong province, but we are not planning on going there, so I may have to live without it. A 20 oz soda is 3 RMB (50 cents). A 1.5 liter of bottled water is also 3 RMB. But that is in Shanghai, Guilin, and Yangshuo which are all tourist areas so the mark-up is extreme. Everything will be cheaper when we get to our assignment.
We just walked the block and then went back to the hostel. We were supposed to have internet in our room, but the signal was just too weak, so we went down to the lobby. It was around midnight and maybe a dozen people were there on the internet. So the internet ended up being extremely slow, too slow to use Facebook or Gmail. Also, no one was online in gtalk even though it was noon in the states. This really upset Seth because he was really missing people, especially Delaney. So, we went back to our room and tried to sleep. Seth got up around 2 am and tried the internet again. It was working good enough for him to make a Buzz post, but still no one was around. He did not sleep well at all. I slept Ok, but woke up every hour or so and then it took a while to go back to sleep again. I finally got up around 7:30. Seth had finally zonked out by that time. So I got my computer and went down stairs. There was no one there so the internet worked perfectly. We even had Facebook without using a proxy. I talked to a few people, mainly Derek and Evelyn and sent messages to other people who were not around. My parents and I Skyped for a few minutes until Seth got up around 9 so he could talk to his family. Things were looking better.
The hostel fixed us an American breakfast (eggs, bacon, toast, banana, jam, juice) for 18 RMB ($3). And it was very good. We then had to start getting ready to go. Our flight was at 3 pm, but we needed to be there 2 hours early, get the luggage, have time to get lost, and have an hour and a half metro ride. So we left the hostel around 10:30. So, we didn’t get to see much of Shanghai, but it felt really good to be able to navigate a huge foreign city like that by ourselves, almost empowering.
Pictures of the Hostel in Shanghai