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Friday, August 12, 2011

Vietnam Bound... Surprise detour in Shanghai!

Well, our adventure got off to a slow start… very… very… very slow start! We arrived at the airport 2 hours before our flight just to find out our flight was delayed. In fact, it hadn’t even left Shanghai because of weather problems, so when it left, they would announce it to everyone over the loudspeaker… So, Aaron and I headed upstairs to the airport starbucks for some yummy drinks!

And may or may not have played lots and lots of iphone Word With Friends games and checked facebook! I don’t wanna miss anything over there in the states, you know!?

After a couple hours, we found out our airplane had still not left Shanghai! Eeekkk! This would be fine, except for the fact that we had a connecting flight from Shanghai to Ho Chi Mihn later tonight!  So, in true fat kid fashion, we walked over to the hot dog restaurant and… well… ate some hotdogs to pass the time! LOL
Finally, at 7:00pm, they allowed people to check in and head through security!

It's our traditional "Here we are with our tickets" picture!  We never leave Korea without it! :)

Boarding the flight to Shanghai from Busan!

We landed in Shanghai at 9:10pm; just in time, we thought, to catch our connecting flight, which was leaving at 9:50pm!  But, we got held up in immigration, and MISSED IT! On top of that, our airline only flies from Shanghai to Ho Chi Mihn ONCE A DAY, and since we missed today’s flight, we’ll be staying in China until tomorrow night at 9:50pm! UUggghhh… We were sooo close!

After realizing Shanghai wasn't such a bad spot to have a mini day vacation, we turned our frowns upside down, exchanged some cash into Yuan, and jumped in a shuttle which took us to a ½ way decent hotel in the middle of the rural ghetto! We’re about an hour and a half from the city center of Shanghai, and from what it looked like on our drive here, about 2 minutes from the town’s red light district. Lovely.

Check out the free box of men’s and women’s underwear in the room! I’ve been given a lot of free things since living in Asia, but boxes of undies, in my hotel room, is definitely a first!
I’ve just settled into my tiny single bed and am watching some Chinese X-Factor on the hotel TV before calling it a night!

Aaron’s across the street having his midnight ramen noodles snack! Apparently the place is family owned and they actually make their noodles from scratch when you order! Love it! Who knows was tomorrow will bring, but I’m sure it’ll be a great little Chinese adventure!

DAY 2:

This morning, I woke up in a panic, worried I had slept in really late, but soon relaxed after I realized it was only 7am! Perfect! I went to the window and opened the curtain to get my first view of China in the morning… looked down, and THIS is what I saw! Eeekkk! Freaky to say the least!

I got ready and lounged in bed, watching Chinese TV, until 9am when the hotel’s shuttle was scheduled to take Aaron and I to the airport.  We made it out on time, and off we went to Pudong Airport (just to drop our bags in the baggage deposit place and catch the Maglev Train to the city center!)  The airport will hold your bags for basically $3.00 a day!  Such a deal!

Then, we caught the Maglev Train!  I swear this is the one that decently crashed, but Aaron swears it’s not!  With that said, we may or may not have taken the high speed train that crashed last month in China.  Regardless, lightning never strikes the same place twice (at least not that often), so I figured we’d be okay!

For 40 Yuan (approximately $8.00) you can ride the train and save yourself approximately an hour on the subway! That’s because it reaches speeds of 431 kilometers per hour! Yes, that’s 267 miles per hour! AWESOME!

We arrived at the end of the train tracks and jumped onto the subway (Line 2) towards People’s Square, but got off early at another stop, hoping we would come out the exit and be in a really awesome place!  We like the gamble. 

Unfortunately, we came out and there was nothing but a long street! We definitely lost that gamble! So, Aaron leaned in and talked to a couple cab drivers, telling them our favorite old market in Shanghai.

Apparently his pronunciation isn’t so great, because they all gave him a blank stare.  Uuuggghh!  So, we gave up on the taxi idea and stood at the bus stop for a couple minutes, hoping we would hop on a bus that would take us to a more interesting part of town!  Hoping is the key word here, since we obviously had NO idea where these busses were going.

After waiting a while, a Chinese lady leaned over and started speaking English to Aaron!  English speakers are not “a dime a dozen” around here… more like a penny a dollar, so as far as I was concerned, she was our little angel!  We told her where we wanted to go and she jotted it down on a piece of paper in Chinese, so we could hand it to the taxi driver!  PERFECT!

It worked like a charm, and we made it to the Yu Garden area!

For the sake of saving myself a lot of time in explaining each picture, I’ll just tell you, the following pictures are all taken in the proximity of Yu Garden, in the back alleys and street markets… It’s basically one of, if not THE, oldest running market and neighborhood in Shanghai! Last time Aaron and I were in China, we came here and fell completely in love and decided we needed to come back!

Each door is adorned with a different chinsy art hanging.

Aaron has me hooked on old bicycle pictures!  I love them!

I have never, in my life seen a bigger vegetable than that one!  Is it a giant cucumber?

Lucky little kitty!  I wouldn't mind living under a fruit basket either!  YUM!

Aaron grabbed some authentic home made noodles in the street market and grabbed a seat inside the teenty tiny make-shift restaurant! Yumm!

These two girls were the daughters of the cooks. They cleaned up all the dishes after customers left, and made sure everyone was doing okay!

There were quite a few different people selling this Vietnamese/French style fusion garlic bread in this market.  It was delicious, AND CHEAP!

How’d you like to hang your laundry for all to see?

Who doesn’t love a grown man who can sew?!

If only American kids could be this content playing with emptied water bottles in the street!  Imagine how much money their parents could save!

We crossed over a walking bridge to explore the other side of the street, which seemed to be even MORE authentically Chinese than where we had just been!

I love the mix of really old homes in the foreground and new fancy modern buildings in the background!

I loved it so much, I wanted me own picture there too! :)

We stopped in at 3 different 7-11 type markets for water, and more water, and more water throughout the day!  It was hot and sticky, but as long as we had waters in our hands, we were good to go!  While we were in one of the marketets, Aaron spotted this chicken foot snack for sale!  To each his own...

In the second market we went to, we grabbed some water and asked if we could sit on the floor to enjoy the air conditioning!  The clerks son was hanging in the store with us while we rested!  He was such a schmooch!  We taught him how to high five!

and Aaron let him take some pictures with his film camera!  He was completely intrigued with it!

I think this might be my favorite travel picture of A!

I am soooo glad I didn't have to go somewhere like this to have my wisdom teeth extracted!  YIKES!!

Jars of Chinese tea...

I am a huge fan of grapes, but they're outrageously expensive in Korea right now!  A bunch, this size would run me about $15.00!  Here though, in this maket, a whole bunch was the equivalent of 60 cents!

These live chickens, ducks, pigeons, and other birds were alive, in cages, waiting for their fate.  When soemone would purchase one, this guy would pick it up, drop it in a boiling pot of liquid for a couple seconds, swish it around, then pull it out and rub all the feathers off of it.  Then, it was ready to go home!  OUCH!

Happiest old Chinese woman, ever!

In this very poor area of China, babies do NOT wear diapers... Instead, there is a slit in their clothing where they can poop and pee as they wish!  haha

An alley of washbasins... perhaps the local laundromat?!

There were lots of old men, walking through the streets with their shirts off, and plenty more in this little room, playing some form of Chinese dominoes.  They invited us in to check out the action!

The little kids seemed to love Aaron and I!

This woman was blowdrying her dog on her front porch!  CLASSIC!

This old woman was bringing her laundry in from the line, hanging outside her window.

Welcome to "Fuxing road!"  Does anyone else see the humor in this?

Hello little schmooch!

This old man was shaving on his front porch... As soon as we asked if we could take his photo, he got this HUGE smile on his face, like it was the greatest thing ever that someone wanted to take his photo!  His wife, inside the house, was laughing histerically!

We decided to check out the nice area of Yu Garden; the place where the tourist gather, which usually isn't our style, but we did it anyway.  We were soon approached by a "volunteer" who told us about a famous tea house "up there" (pointing up to the 4th floor of a traditional Chinese building.) where Queen Elizabeth had once sipped on tea, along with other big dignitaries!  He said he would show us if we'd like to see it. 
Let me think, free tour of an old tea shop, good views from the 4th floor, and air conditioning... um, YEP!

The tea shop itself was quite nice, but neither of us were really in the mood for tea...

much less a hundred different types of it...

Instead, we took advantage of the views from the balcony!

The tea shop had it's own little rock garden and pond.  I loved this little Chinese fisherman figurine, propped up on a rock near the waterfall.

Our jumping attempt!

Down the road a bit there was another beautiful tea shop, set on stilts over a small pond.

It was beginning to drizzle, so we walked a bit and found a cute little coffee shop with wifi to spend the next hour or so while the drizzle turned into downpour!

This was the road outside the coffee shop, which was beginning to flood from the rain...

Aaron had seen picture of an animal market and was itching to check it out, so we asked a girl who spoke english if she could write the name of the market on a piece of paper to give to a taxi driver! 

We made it there and checked out the local tree lined antique market first...

Trinkets anyone?!

Then we headed across the street to the animal market, which was nothing more than a glorified dirty pet shop with a couple weird animals for sale, like squirrels for instance... and these turtles, in ever shape, color and size!

What is that that Aaron is so intrigued by, you ask?!

Well, inside those balls, and inside these jars, are famous Chinese fighting crickets!  In this market, there were hundreds and hundreds of fighting crickets for sale!

And, while you may think they're just crickets, you'd be wrong... Chinese love their fighting crickets and train them to fight well!  Not only that, they purchase them a nice little home as well!

Aaron looked at me and said, "We should do it?"  My response, "Do what?" 
"Buy 2 crickets and fight them!"  Oh, lovely!  So, we did! haha
This little guy is Aarons.

Aaron didn't just chose the first one he saw though!  He was very meticulous about chosing his fighting cricket!  It had to have a big mouth and be angry when he put the stick in it's face!

And there they are!  Aaron's cricket VS Jill's cricket!

While I'd like to say that I was the big winner... I'm sad to say, neither of us won!  The lady was about to close her shop and needed her fighting jar back, so we loaded our crickets back into their homes and gave them to the lucky Chinese men who were nearby!

We got to the airport around 7:00pm, had some dinner, chatted with some guys from Seattle while we waited to board, then took a bus out to the airplane to get on!  

We MADE IT to Ho Chi Minh (AKA: Saigon) at about 1:00am.  I felt terrible at this point, because I had had a panic attack on the plane (I HATE planes!) and was a bit shooken up from it, so Aaron, being the doll that he is, filled out all the VISA paperwork and had my Vietnam VISA processed while I slept on a nearby bench. :) 

As soon as we made it through immigration, we hoped in a taxi and headed for the backpackers area of the city ($10.000 ride - I'm pretty sure we got grifted!).  Luckily, at 2:30am, some were still open, and we were able to check in without a reservation!  We're staying at Hotel 97 Bui Vien....

It's cute from the outside, and on a great street filled with shops and cafes, but is pretty ghetto and dirty on the inside, as you can see! 

Regardless, it does the trick!   And for $8.00 a night, what did we expect?!  haha!  We're happy to finally be in Vietnam and are excited to "cross the street" tomorrow!  I've heard it's a crazy, terrifying experience managing your way through thousands of scooters!  But we're up for the challenge!  Stay tuned! :)

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like the mishap turned into a delightful pit stop! Love you!