Shanghai, finally.

Arrived at the Bund to hear the chimes counting out to noon. I chose to remain on the bus, sort of been there, done that withphoto-3 enough nostalgia to hook me into doing the tour without getting wet. Two buses today.
A man in a golf cart size garbage vehicle was collecting leaves and garbage on main street near Peoples Square. In readiness for National Day perhaps. The streets are swept daily; after special occasions a line of sweepers can be found in the early hours sweeping and heaving everything into piles for a crew following behind with pans and bins. Backbreaking work. If they have motorized street cleaning means many lost jobs. Menial labour helped make China the strong country it now is.

Final adventure, by this time I was beyond a fine misting once the rain came down with intent. I decided that since I was already wearing a fine sheen of rain and sweat, looking a bit photo-2-1frightening with now frizzy hair, and appearing to know what I was doing I could embark on a subway ride to the railroad to get my train ticket.

photo-4After elbowing my way to a good standing position I became one of hundreds of sardines, the train jostling and sorting us before the doors opened to disgorge several hundred and take in more. I arrived at the train station relatively unscathed. Searched for the elusive ticket counter – signage useless – and came out with my much coveted ticket to Chengdu for Saturday. I believe announcements were being made saying no more tickets for cities -I think for today.

Tip: once again, try to avoid travel during a Golden Week. Otherwise get the actual ticket prior to departure day – it is mayhem at the station.

If only a couple of days do one of the Big Bus Tours but do not get roped into the river cruise or Jin Mao building in PuDong unless you want to spend an extra 200CND

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Spent: paid for my room 864RMB, it’s Shanghai, everything is expensive. (3 nights)

Metro card: 45
Big Bus Tour: 100
Meals: 22
Starbucks: 36 (by the time I got back to Jing’an Temple I needed something. Found a quiet (quiet is is subject to definition in China),SB tucked away across the street from the temple.

I feel as though I have spent too much despite knowing I have not.

Tote that barge, lift that bale

Six hours before I take my packs to the car, head to town, head to the ferry, pass over the car keys. Getting off the island is no easy feat.

Goodbye home, hello adventure!
Goodbye home, hello adventure!

Sometimes travellers forget to talk about the process of getting to where they are going. Perhaps they do not want to recall or think about it. I consider approaching the ferry terminal the beginning of my trip!

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge motorcade stopping traffic.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge motorcade stopping traffic.

I have not practised carrying my pack up and down the stairs. I do know the Hongqiao railway station in Shanghai is all escalators. I am planning to work on my disco/belly dance hip moves if anyone tries to get by me. Like knocking down bowling pins. I get just a tad aggressive when in China, the only way to survive.

Last minute packing – craziness. Switched out a pair of warmer pants for a new skort and a sweatshirt type top a new blousy after checking the weather report of where I will be going for the next two weeks.

Much like the cookie I just finished eating things are crumbling. One flight cancelled. No reason nor alternate provided. 4 1/2 hours later still nothing. Missed my intended ferry as dealing with an Expedia agent for in Egypt of all places! He called back, my trip is being set as a priority, except so are all the trips of everyone else needing new flights. Called them again, call lost. On a later ferry, will have time still but no idea what to expect regarding first leg of trip. All I know is that it seems we will still land in Xiamen. Wifi spotty on the ocean, hoping to check trains.

Doing my best to get things sorted!
Doing my best to get things sorted!

Basically seems a matter of you can’t get there from here. I will lose my booking in Shanghai if delayed too long and probably have to pay for it. Hoping my travel insurance will cover this inconvenience. I will let everyone know the outcome. Meanwhile, treated myself to dinner in the Pacific Lounge, fabulous Gorgonzola and fig ravioli.

Updates: added to my itinerary, Yangshuo for three nights. My daughters will be so jealous.

Spent:

  • Sidney, Serious Coffee $ 4.50 perhaps this could be called an emergency expense?
  • BC Ferries 1 way 16.70
  • Pacific Buffet dinner 24.41

Tips:

  1. stay calm when flights are cancelled. And pop a ‘happy pill’
  2. If you have to travel any distance to actually get on your plane leave with plenty of time
  3. To avoid missed ferries, cancellations, Royal motorcades.
Last rays of Canadian sun.
Last rays of Canadian sun.

Show me the money: China on $100 a day

Proposed budget: $3000CAD. I also call this the boring yet most essential stuff.

I worked on my budget for a couple of months, the following is how I hope to stay within it. I feel a bit like a politician – budgets always slide out of control.

  • $645.41 Airfare divide by 30 days = $21.51 per day
  • $240.00 visa valid to 2023 = $34.29 per year = $2.82 for this trip or .09 cents per day
  • $167.00 Phoenix Hostel Sept. 28 – Oct. 1(not sure if coming off my card or not) divide by 3 = $56CAD per day

  • $27.95 water bottle (not quite what I wanted after testing it) divided into 2 years then adding only the 30 days I use it on this trip the expenditure should be $1.15 rounded up or .04¢ cents per day
  • $136.86 2nd class ticket Shanghai to Chengdu through China Highlights
  • $23.80 extra for train ticket to make it a first class as no 2nd available
  • $2062.75 for ¥10,000CNY

Total as of Sep 9/16 $3039.79

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Still need travel insurance so factor in about another $150
Travel Rx cost unknown.

I cannot yet see how I will manage on 100 CAD per day even if I divide everything by how long an item is good for into days travelled. The above calculation indicates I will only have $22.36 per day left for meals and activities. Therefore, I am still inclined to remove the airfare from my calculations or work in USD despite my reluctance to do so.

I finally worked out that $3400CAD = $2585USD, roughly.

Final expenditure update before heading out tomorrow. My Rx were covered – fabulous.
Travel Ins. World Nomad – $166.97CAD
More CNY: ¥1000 = $211.95
Ferry return trip : $34.20 (unless there is a sudden rise in fares – I would not be surprised)

Total I expect I will have spent by the time I return home: $3453.11CAD; rounded off to $3500CAD
Not too bad considering how dreadful our Canadian dollar is. If I say USD or cut out the airfare amount I can even say I will stay in within my goal of $100 per day!

Panic has not quite set in. I added up my accommodations from Sept. 28 – Oct. 13, not exactly easy with the rise and fall of currencies. (Twenty years ago $100CAD = ¥600CNY).
$622CAD Seems outrageously expensive for hostels even if it covers two weeks.
A dear friend in Shanghai invited me to stay with her, unfortunately it was after the free cancellation date – I will try to knock off two nights as the hostel will most likely have people scrambling for rooms.

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Traveling Companions

Packing

Sept 23/16 countdown

I’ve packed my bag, I’m ready to go.

I like to be prepared. This generally means my bags are packed up to a month before my departure date. However, it does not diminish the often felt excitement one encounters days before travel is to begin. What it does do is prevent last minute worries, minor details being ignored or forgotten, items left behind. This is particularly important when embarking on s month long, on the other side of the world, solo adventure. Let’s face it, travel on ones own can have negatives along with all the much anticipated positives. So, my bags are packed.

Where: I am heading to Southwest China after a stop in Shanghai, one cannot go to China without a visit to Shanghai! Planned itinerary:

  • Shanghai, city of glass towers; soaring, streamlined bridges; fast cars; gridlock, subway lines snaking in subterranean masses; carefully cultivated ancient architectural memories; foreign influence; Chinese fortitude. I already know Shanghai has it all and cannot wait to return.
  • Chengdu: pandas of course.
  • Jiuzhaigou: ‘Valley of nine fortified villages’; UNESCO World Heritage Site; dizzying, oxygen sucking heights – 2000 to 3500m – I am taking the appropriate meds with me to prevent altitude sickness.
  • Kunming: the city of eternal spring.
  • Guizhou province: villages, ethnically diverse minorities – it has taken 20 years (wow) of travel back and forth to China to finally make it here. That takes care of about two weeks.

There is a possibility I might go to Siem Reap, Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat – the only time I will travel with anyone.

Most unreasonable item packed: ground coffee and a travel espresso mug.

Tips: make lists, many lists. I have a list for my cat, home, travel. Unpack your bag, note I am saying singular, at least twice to determine what can be removed. I kept the coffee and mug.