This post is the first in a series from my adventures in China during 2007.
Between May and December 2007 I moved to China for a study abroad program. While there I was able to travel to different parts of China including Hong Kong, Macau, and Tibet. I have compiled a few journals from my travels, and will be posting them as a series.
I departed Sioux Falls airport for Shanghai, China on May 20th, 2007. The trip had two stopovers, Minneapolis, MN and Narita Airport outside Tokyo, Japan. I traveled for about sixteen hours total before landing in Shanghai, for the most part being stuck next to a talkative man who could have benefited from having an extra seat.
“At this point the Chinese I had learned had little use. That is unless I saw a dog or a cat; then I would be able to successfully identify it as such. Thankfully my first conversations had nothing to do with food.”
At about nine oâ€™clock at night, after going through customs I stepped out of Pudong International and realized I had no clue what I was supposed to do next. My friend who had been living in Shanghai for about six months at the time decided that it would be best if I found my way to the apartment on my own. At this point I had no Chinese language experience, outside of playing with the language software â€œthe Rosetta Stoneâ€ for short periods of time. The words I had learned had little use, unless I saw a dog or cat; then I would be able to successfully identify it as such. Thankfully my first conversations had nothing to do with food.
I eventually found the taxi line and showed the assistant the address where I was going and he directed me to a cab. My first reaction inside the taxi was to try to buckle up. Apparently Taxiâ€™s in China donâ€™t have seat-belts, unless youâ€™re in the front. The international airport is about an hour away from the city, so I sat back and enjoyed the ride. Most of the highway leading up to Shanghai is new, and lined with meticulously trimmed trees and bushes. This creates a very impressive first impression, but I later learned that just past those trees is the real China filled with manufacturing, small villages and peasant farms.
Coming into the city at night is like driving into a dream, especially after 16 hours of nonstop traveling. In Shanghai you will find more tall buildings than you will ever see in one US city.I was abruptly awakened from that dream when the driver exited off the highway and on to the city streets of Shanghai. Stop lights are more of a guide than the rule, as are lanes for oncoming traffic and my driver used both lanes to accomplish
where we were trying to go. Bikes come at you from every direction and honking was constant. The address I gave the driver was correct, but the gate was closed at night. This could have been a bigger problem but fortunately there was an English speaking person that helped show me my way. The total cost of my hour long cab ride was less than $20 USD. Though I arrived safe and sound after about a day of traveling, my adventure was really just beginning.