We travelled with the train leaving Xi’an around 4:30pm and to arrive in Shanghai about 8am the next morning. We had a sleeper carriage and thankfully with Mark translating were able to cash in the ticket the agent mistakenly booked for Seamus (children under 120cm travel free and those under 150cm are 50% – 75% of an adult price)
The carriage was clean but the bunks were hard and would be a bit of a squeeze for people a bit taller than us – that’s before they have to share with Seamus! There is a toilet at either end of the carriage (about 20+ carriages in total) One toilet is western the other is a squat toilet – trust me, I will have to write a whole section on loos later! I don’t know what some of our fellow passengers were doing in there but all I can say is thank goodness the train gives you free slippers which you throw away at the end of the journey. The journey was a bit smoky as people can smoke at either end of the corridor. There is free hot water so you can make your own noodles and cup of tea. There were also about 5 little trolleys going up and down the corridor – one selling fruit (we bought it but it was a bit past it), one selling sweeties, one selling loo roll.
Our guard was desperate to practice his English so visited us regularly, making himself very cosy sitting on the bed chatting. He helped the children practice their Chinese numbers. It is useful to know the hand symbols for the numbers too at times during our stay in China.
Shanghai was nice, lots of modern high risers. It was so easy to get around once we figured out that Line 13 was completed so recently it wasn’t on the map! – the metro was modern and frequent. Tickets were cheap and ticket machines were super easy to use. People were polite, offering seats to Seamus and the girls.
We walked around town looking in all the shops – everything from Prada to vacuum packed whole pig’s heads. We got the land train back towards the Bund, which Seamus particularly enjoyed.
The Bund itself was lively – lots of people, lots to see. We crossed under the river with the Sightseeing Tunnel which is a light show. Again, we seemed to be the tourist attraction with the children being mobbed for photos with various groups of Chinese old ladies or teenagers.
We spent time in the evening at the French Quarter, which was full of bars and cool restaurants.
Another day, on the way back from collecting our ferry tickets we found a Bavarian beer house, making a change from the noodles and Chinese tea.
Top tip – if you are in a Chinese Starbucks (for emergency kid toilet visit) and you fancy ordering a Green Tea Latte, just don’t! It is like drinking cold sweet spinach.
We’ll be popping back to Shanghai when we return from Japan.