The inevitable end of the leaf adventures – returning to sydney

Its been a while since the last update however there is still a little more left until I touched down in Sydney. It was a long and sickly journey ridden with grief, disease and hello kitty tissues. I got up after only a few hours sleep from my sickbed and got dressed into my Ciggerette flavoured clothes. I checked out and stepped out into cold where my 18 or so hours of sadness started.

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I walked pass the store where I had gotten the large tasty fried battered squids a few days ago and a few stores down, a blanket of steam was rising from the large steamers that most certainly held mouthwatering buns that commuters and early risers alike would surely fill their stomachs with in 1 or 2 hours time. That however was far from my mind as to the coarse needles in my throat prickled the life out of me. Dragging my 2 heavy bags along the dark road with small coughs and sniffles behind my blue bacteria/pollution mask I bought the day before, I made my way to the station for a train to Pudong airport.

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Back home, here i come!

The sun had made good progress up the sky near the end of the 45 minute train ride and although the picture doesn’t really show it well, the burning sun reigned the skies with a beautiful vibrant scarlet red as I headed into that direction of the horizon where home was.

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Arriving at the airport, I got lost trying to find where to check in for my flight. I dragged myself a few laps up and down the long long terminal before finally finding the correct check in point which was also the breaking point where I completely regretted bringing a backpack, and instead should have bought a suitcase, a big one with wheels and a handle with well shaped finger grooves.

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I immediately entered the gates and revisited the restaurant I had eaten at last time I was here for my flight to Hong Kong. Free of my baggage, I slumped myself at the table and ordered the blandest udon noodle soup (despite how it looks) I had ever tasted –  perhaps it was because i was sick,nevertheless, the blandness was probably best considering the condition of my sandpaper throat.

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I also bought the most expensive water that I had bought in my 3 months overseas except for maybe the bottle I got on the great wall of china. I don’t quite remember the exact price but I remember thinking feeling ripped off which might have been my spoilt side coming out again.

I got on the plane for a flight to Kuala Lumpar lasting 1 packet of tissues (5.5 hours) before having to wait another 3 hours to my flight to Sydney.

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Arriving in Kuala Lumpar felt quite good as I was finally connected to the world again with my snapchat and facebook notifications that have been adding up over the past 9 days.

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I filled up on some fish congee and passed time being sick but trying to be not that sick by avoiding people.

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It seemed like my habits I acquired from being sick in Japan was still fresh as I protective of my coughing and sneezing like it was a big secret. Everyone in the boarding area was Australian – which kind of felt funny (and familiar) having been in countries where Asian faces are everywhere and where most people don’t speak English for the last 3 months. Anyway, I boarded flight to Sydney that lasted 2 packets of tissues (9.5 hours) – which was burdened with large amounts of discomfort, aggravation and boredom. Falling in and out of sleep bouts, I would wake up to check the time and distance to find that only 15 minutes had passed since I last woke and checked. Towards the last hour, I was wide awake and my body was screaming to be let off the plane. Towards the last 45 minutes, my body was literally screaming and my ears felt like they were going to explode. The plane was on its slow descent and I guess the pressure was messing with my sinuses and other bodily holes. Towards the last 15 minutes of the flight, a general announcement was made regarding customs as well as asking anyone that feels sick or unwell to report to the hostesses to get checked out in case of bringing foreign diseases into the country. I briefly considered it and irresponsibly discarded the warning, thinking of my poor brother waiting to pick me up (probably my bed more so).

Towards home we flew and when we arrived, it was around 7 am in the morning and the sun had gone right around the globe and back as radiant as the day before. The scene was nostalgic of the day I was leaving to Japan.

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the morning i arrived back in sydney

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the morning I left sydney

I was well and truly back in Sydney.

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It was Christmas day, dressed in my Christmas sweater, I stopped by the duty free alcohol store to pick up a little present for myself but only made it 2 times more strenuous to carry all my things on the way out. My brother waited at the car park with our familiar maroon shitbox camry.

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Home we went, along familiar roads and we arrived back at that familiar garage door of our home.

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My room was such beautiful sight even with all the mess I left before I went away.

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I threw all my bags down and left it for another days problem, as my mother made me honey lemon tea and I had an emotional reunion with my beloved laptop.

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I was back after 3 months and it felt like a long time however I still couldn’t believe it was over thinking back to before I went. It was my first trip overseas that I had been planning for a long time and I met so many people, saw and experienced so many things.

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Various tickets and passes collected from my time Korea, China and Hong Kong.

I was glad to be back but I’m not sure it would be the same story had I not been sick towards the end.

Initially, I started writing my blog to share with friends and family however as i kept writing, I began writing it for myself to keep for memories sake. Having been almost 7 months since I had returned, it somehow took me this whole time to finish this blog but now that I have, I think its time I can close that chapter of my life and progress with a new one. So after 89 days, 4 countries, almost 9000 photos and 80 blog posts, this is all for my blog for now, but perhaps there will be new adventures in the future.

Until then, thanks for reading everyone!!

Missing my flight, shanghai for one more night

I woke up pretty drowsy and managed to get my shit together and check out before midday. I was double checking my flight times as I handed in my keycard to the receptionists at the hostel. My eyes widened and my left wrist elevated to show the time. My heart sank as I realised my flight was that morning at 730. I instantly regretted choosing not to double check my flight the night before and being to confident in my memory (which is actually really bad so I don’t know why). I just remembered ironically having a slight smile telling the receptionist I missed my flight – as if the receptionist can fix it for me. After spending about $20 dollars on calls to Kuala Lumpar to contact the the airlines ( god damn Malaysia airlines phone line), I somehow managed to salvage what I could of the bad situation and only had to fork out a few more hundred to change my flight to the following day – as opposing to having to buy a whole new flight ticket DURING the Christmas and New Years season. It was also fortunate that they somehow found a bed for me for one more night as they were all booked out. I sat there among the other hostel residents not knowing what to do next.

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So I just turned to the only thing I could trust which was food (most of the time) and ordered some food from the hostel bar which I had not yet tried except for the drinks. I got some chicken sandwiches and chips which was pretty good but didn’t go down too well as my cold had taken a turn for the worse – probably a quite gradual turn in which I didn’t pay much attention to at all. I spent some time at the bank where I found my bank account quite dry managed to scrape up some money for shopping and food for one more day.

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I got some congee which was just what I needed to warm up my body without to being tough on my throat. Afterwards, I went on a bit of a shopping frenzy without really thinking too much about how I would fit it in my backpack.

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I also took it as a final opportunity to take in the city before i left

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Christmas isnt what it is like in China compared to most countries with far less decorations and celebrations however, even so, the city still shone beautifully as it always has.

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I went one last time down to The Bund to see the harbour side and took some final photos before meeting some friends back at the hostel to go out for dinner.

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We planned to have hotpot but we spontaneously ended up at a Vietnamese restaurant.

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pho in china

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other Vietnamese goodies

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Pool back at the hostel on my last night

I didn’t have one drop of alcohol that night and prepared well to leave the country including countless checks on my flight time. I said my goodbyes for the second time to the amazing people there at the hostel which i had spent the last week with and climbed into bed. 

It was the 83rd and last night i would spend overseas. It was a room that reeked of smoke from cigarette butts lying around in cups and my cold was definitely not getting any better. My time in Shanghai was great but i couldn’t wait to get out of the place and back home.

Shanghai day 5 – Shanghais Special dumplings, congee and KTV

The next day, I had actually planned to go on a sidetrip to a famous neighbouring water town but I never made it down the top bunk at a reasonable time. Instead I caught brunch with a friend at a small little eatery nearby the hostel. We were aiming to get some congee (rice porridge) which is a common breakfast food for chinese, however most places were all sold out by the time we walked out the hostel doors.

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Instead, my friend ordered me some beef noodles resembling somewhat like pho. Unfortunately, it didn’t taste as good but was still good to my cold, dry lips and empty stomach. On the side, I also ordered the same shanghai dumplings (which shall now be known as ssd short for special shanghai dumplings) I had left a strong impression on me a few days back and the second time didn’t disappoint.

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random buildings around the west nanjing area where my hostel was located with a view of the pearl tower at the back sticking out

We walked the streets looking for some more street food fill up the cracks and corners in our stomach. I came across a Chinese crepe/pancake store which looked super appetising and different than what I had seen in China.

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Sure I had eaten and wasn’t particularly hungry but I told my friend to tell the lady to put everything on just for the sake of trying it. She cooked it and wrapped it in some tissues in front of me and paying the 29RMB ($5~aud), I received the juicy crepe. It was however, nothing special and just as you would expect, a crepe.

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Nevertheless, I finished it all. Arriving back at the hostel, I was not sure what to do so I ended up playing pool and hanging out with the longer term residents that were staying at the hostel.

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I followed that up by getting some more SSD for late lunch, and would later go out with some friends to have Congee and more SSD on the side for dinner.

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The real harry potter

That night, a big group of us went out ‘ktv’ which is what the Chinese call karaoke. On the way there via the train station, I went through one of the most painful bladder experiences and one of the most urgent dashes through the train station to date – curse large train stations. After the chaos died down in my pants, we walked from west Nanjing station to a nearby shopping complex and went on the lifts to the top. Somehow we paid and got a large room for over 10 people.

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We walked through the maze of karaoke rooms until we found the room. We bought drinks from the ktv kiosk, similar to a store you would find at the movies but with alcohol instead of slushy machines and popcorn. Getting lost a few times along the way to and from our karaoke room, we brought back baskets and casks of alcohol. Drinks were had and songs were sang.

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cranking out zombies by the cranberries

Tambourines and musical shakers (that’s probably the correct term..) also filled the air.

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Afterwards, we left for the same club 88 that we visited the night before which was kind of a disappointment but ended up being okay.

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The Shanghai Science and Technology Museum and Shanghai Shanghanigans

I had a bit of a late morning the next day and left the guest house close to midday.
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I was solo again and had to search for a suitable place to eat for one person. I came across a small quiet store on the main road to the station. Only having a menu on the wall, I surprised myself by how smoothly ordering food went. In my poor mandarin, I asked the man “what is good to eat?” and he asked “rice or noodles”, I picked the rice option and asked for one of whatever he recommended. I was becoming a Chinese in no time!

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Although I didn’t know what I ate, it was quite nice and only put me back a mere 15RMB which is about $3. Afterwards, I got the train to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum Station. Luckily Shanghai doesn’t seem to have that much creativity with station names so I didn’t have that much trouble getting to my destination which was the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. The only hassle was the persistent people trying to sell you things even after you declined kindly, so I had to end up just ignoring them and kept walking. I’m not sure which exit I came out from but the area around the museum was really awesome.

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The ground was made from symmetrical concrete blocks connecting the long foot paths on both sides that mysteriously stretched to other parts of the city shrouded in mist.

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The courtyard was outlined by low well kept greenery and two spectacular silver and black buildings contrasted with the pale blue sky on the remaining sides to complete the picture.

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The Museum building itself was amazing and the architecture was much befitting for the Shanghai museum of Technology and Science.

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The entrance was built on a slope so the the building looked almost 4D while the massive globe displayed at the front centre of the museum rotated impressively.

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The entrance fee was 60RMB which is about 10AUD. I wondered around the first level where there were many sections dedicated to different provinces of China and how they evolved or gave advances to science or technology.

 

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While it sounds interesting, these sections was deserted with not a person to be seen and some displays were not even turned on. I was also not really in the mood to stand around reading large blocks of text about things I wasn’t particularly interested about.

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After a good 45 minutes, I didn’t make it through all the ‘parks’ and was disappointed thinking that that was all of the Museum. Confused, I wandered around some more and found an information desk where I asked if there was more to the Museum. Of course she didn’t know much English but she handed me a brochure with information about the Museum and recommended courses through the Museum. That was when I realised that the actual exhibits started on level 2 (to be fair, the place was huge and it wasn’t exactly obvious). I handed the door woman my ticket to get in which was the start of the most amazing and fascinating Museum experience I had ever come across. I followed the “family” recommended route (as well as the most straight forward route) as opposed to the other recommended routes listed for teenagers or elderly.

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The animal section was first which animal exhibit which was this amazing room with animals displays from all over the world in their respective natural habitat, even Australia – even though it was the most lacking animal display there.

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There was a rock display, as well as insects, reptiles, birds, plants which led onto other exhibits of bacteria and microbiology information rooms titled under the spectrum of life exhibition.

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huge insects that moved as you walked beneath though. Actually quite scary.

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mouse with ear on its back – product of gene research

I returned back to the animal exhibit to go up stairs to the spider exhibit where spiders were “everywhere but seldom known”.

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They had information boards along with specimen displays on many spiders from funnel webs to the worlds largest spider, the “Theraphosa Blondi”.

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With a leg span of 25 centimetres, its pretty big but not as big as I would’ve thought considering it IS the worlds largest spider – which is a relief. It does look nasty though and the hairier it is, the more scary it is so it is still, quite frightening so I don’t think I will be visiting the tropical rainforests of Latin America any time soon. Or ever, unless I’m equipped with a space suit.

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Next up I visited Leonardo De Vincis Mechanical Inventions and Robots exhibition which was a massive room full of his weird and wacky inventions ranging from weapons to hexagonal mirrors to his anatomical research.

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my hand in this picture looks so scary, i had to check to see if it wasn’t the same in other pictures.

Thirsty, I got a drink from the high tech vending machine which grabs your drink with a mechanical hand. I moved onto the Robots exhibit which had some amazing interactive displays.

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There were exhibits where you could play 4 in a row checkers with a robot, verse a robot in archery, or sing while a robot plays the piano.

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Another exhibit allowed you have your portrait drawn by a robot which was pretty amazing.

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the robot beat me

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Having already spent almost 3 hours in the museum, I wasn’t even half way through yet. I picked up my pace and zoomed through the Information Era, Home on Earth, Light of Exploration, Human and Earth, and Space exhibits, just making it before the museum closed.

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I would go through all of them however there was just so many amazing things in each exhibition that it would take too long!

 

From real life space rocket models to going on a ride through the digestive track to all the different televisions since its invention.

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the strawberry i sat in for the ride through the digestive track

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getting eaten

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the stomach acid dissolving me

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dont know – some sort of bacteria close to the rectum?

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and finally we got pooped out

My sense of wonder and appreciation for the world was widen along with a bit of insignificance.

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It was about to hit 6pm and the sun was nowhere to be seen. As I walked back onto level 2, the large globe that was rotating at the front was now glowing bright blue lighting up the courtyard in a blue haze. Unfortunately, just as I exited the Museum to take a picture from outside, the lights turned off as the Museum was closing down.

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There was so much I saw and even though I got through most of the exhibits, there was so much more to see and do if time permitted. I was however exhausted towards the end of the exhibitions so I felt like I couldn’t fully appreciate it.

I visited a Chinese restaurant for dinner(lunch would be more correct) in the underground shopping leading to the subway station.

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I arrived back my hostel and went out again to have some dinner with a friend before going out again to a club located somewhere, I think it is called number 88 or 88 or something with the number 8 and is located… somewhere in Shanghai – apparently its a very Chinese club but all I saw were foreigners. My friend told me foreigners come here if they want to pick up a Chinese girl so he couldn’t have been more right. There were drunk girls flinging themselves at white guys even when the other girls were telling her she needs to go home. The club was packed and we struggled to find places to sit not to mention stand.

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It was grand and done up with appearances from european DJs, clowns on stilts and even a full blown singing and dancing performance with backup dancers and everything.

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You could easily spot the wealthy Chinese guys and the overly done up girls who want to get with 1. a wealthy Chinese man or 2. a white foreigner. There was even an old man there with his granddaughter but we later found out it wasn’t his granddaughter. The club closed at around 4am and I came out reeking of cigarette smoke once again. The club closed at around 4am and I caught the cab home with the rest of my mates but not before getting a sneaky cup noodle from the convenience store(thank you shanghai for having stores that are open past 10pm) to satisfy my nibbles back at the guest house.

 

Shanghai – Jade Buddha Temple, the Yuyan Gardens and the Bund

That morning, I left for a temple called the Jade Buddha temple. I caught a train from East Nanjing Road a few stations down to Jing’an Temple then changed over to line 7 to get to Changshou Road.

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I was following directions I got from some pamphlet but I was still quite lost. I walked out of the subway exit and expected there to be directions and arrows pointing to the temple however there was nothing. Just as I was about to follow the crowd because surely there is not much else here other than the said temple but luckily I did not and stuck to my guns. After walking quite a while walking in much doubt, I eventually arrived at an intersection that seemed busier than the roads before with incense shops here and there.

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The temple smelt close. Two foreigners and a guide came out of a taxi and I followed them. It was the building I was standing in front but thought it was a restaurant the whole time. I paid the 20RMB ) $3-4 entry fee and walked in. It was a nice temple but like all the other temples I had seen over the last 3 months or so, it wasn’t too special.

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I walked into a smoke filled courtyard where there were several big cauldrons with people crowding around them and burning things. It rained burnt paper and ash as I walked past to the other side and resulted in severe dandruff on my carefully moulded hair do and clothes which probably reeked of smoke but was overpowered by the strong scent of incense. Similar to when I walk out of a pub/club in Beijing.

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I walked through the red lantern skied walkway and stopped by little quarters with different Buddha and deity monuments. Others had monks reciting and chanting buddhist scripts with whole people crowding around to hopefully embrace some of the blessings.

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In one of the little quarters, many people were sitting around folding paper up, cranes if my memory serves me correctly.

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They then took though big bags full of pink and red cranes and burnt them in the big scary cauldrons outside to make more smoke and ash. It sounds horrible but im sure there was a very spiritual and religious meaning.

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One of the centre buildings were pretty cool and had sick walls with little statues of Deities sticking out of the wall all around the bigger monuments , even though this photo doesn’t really do it justice.

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Better I could take a better one, a horde of people rushed over to the building from the other buildings. I guessed there was some prayer or happening starting.

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I saw the reclined Buddha but I had not yet seen the Jade Buddha.

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one chilled buddha

It was an extra 10RMB which you have to pay inside at a ticket office to allow you to go into the Jade Buddha Chamber. It was very empty and I only saw one other person up there who left as I got into the chamber. No photographs were allowed and there were people sitting in the corner to enforce that. The buddha was far away and it was very average. I at least wanted to get what I could out of it so I was a bad dog and took a picture when the monks were slacking off.

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The jade Buddha was apparently made from a piece of jade stone this poor guy found and he asked for funds from people to transport it over half a year to some place to get it crafted into a stone Buddha. He came back and built a temple to put it. It weighs 3 Tonnes, so it is impressive.. had I had known all this at the time. But nevertheless, its appearance was nothing to gloat about.
The temple also had a awesome Koi pond where hundreds (or dare I say thousand) koi fishies fished around. You could buy food to feed the Koi however I took advantage of someone else who was there feeding it and took a few good snaps.

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I also learnt later that it is considered good luck to hand feed Koi so that was a little bit of a pity. Why am I such a stinge poo.

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Around the back, there was a valet parking area (yes for a temple), and also a Zen Coffee Cafe. I wanted to achieve Zen by drinking some Zen coffee but they only had fresh blend coffee.

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As I walked back to the train station, I found a witch. People snickered secretly at her as they walked past but I’m not a bully. The picture looks like she is holding a rabbit or a fur bag in the other hand which is really cool.

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I took the subway back onto line to and transferred at east Nanjing Road to Yuyan Garden Station to visit the Yuyan Gardens.

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on the right path? – side note:those girls were quite good looking

I came out of the Yuyan Gardens Station exit and you would think its easy to find the Yuyan Gardens but it really isn’t. You would also think I would be really good at navigating too but I’m really not. Back tracking just a little bit, I finally hopped along the correct route (even though I wasn’t aware at the time) but I simply followed the cool buildings.

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The street was full of awesome olden style buildings, even the big MacD. To the right hand side were a long stretch of souvenir stores.

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I entered a big plaza/courtyard that was really extraordinary with more towering shiny brown 17th century style buildings.

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With a map in my hand, I followed the Yuyan Gardens signs and even asked a information centre whom gave my directions – just walk down to the end and you will find it. I didn’t end up finding it and apparently walked all around the Gardens before actually finding it. I did however, pay 10RMB to visit some random small temple called the City God temple, purely because of its name.

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After walking along some more run down streets, I eventually found the Yuyan gardens which I’m not sure how I missed.

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on the right track!

Perhaps I expected something more spectacular. It was cool but just an average garden with bridges and walk ways on top of teal ponds surrounded by those previously mentioned buildings which wasn’t even that cool around that particular area.

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The bridges were also massively crowded which didn’t go well for photo documenting and even just walking.

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made way for the best picture i managed to take
Hungry, I joined a huge line for what seemed to be a really famous dumpling spot.

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After waiting about 25 minutes, I got my crab meat and pork dumplings (20RMB ~$4.5) and demolished them cleanly by the pond.

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I walked back along to the station when I found an curious Anime store which turned out to be the best attraction all day.

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chopper bum

One piece things which in abundance and I went a little crazy in there.

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another cool building

Which a big bag in my hand, I returned to the guest house.

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the lights on the christmas tree on nanjing road that were turned off finally lit up that night and accentuated the city’s beauty

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I drank at the hostel and ordered some some fried food along with some mates from down the road.

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Later that night, I went to a club down on the Bund called Muse (on the Bund). It was free entry and even for a Thursday, it was pretty crowded. We sat at the bar and talked when a girl was eyeing me for a while. My friends caught on and bought her a drink on my behalf via the bartender. One of my mates for some reason went to talk to her and returned telling me she’s married and looking for a rich guy.  So I some how to the drink back from her, I don’t even know!

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The toilets were pretty much made of gold and the toilet attendants turned the taps on for you as well as gave you paper towel. Whilst peeing in the urinals, I met some guy which invited me over to their table. The table had several girls just passed out on the lounges which was really funny. I ended up sculling some beers with him from the cask at the table when I was tapped on the shoulder by a waiter at the bar. Some creepy man at another table wanted to have a glass of wine with me. I don’t know what happened but he eventually thanked me and gave me permission to leave (yay). The club closed suddenly at 4am but I guess it was a Thursday and it was actually pretty late still.

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i guess you can’t really see anything..

Shanghai, art exhibitions, museums, the Pearl Tower and The Bund

The next day was a bit of a blur because it was such a weird day but I still got a see many cool things. I joined my two friends in the morning to go to an art exhibition my friend recommended.

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My two friends consisted of a Chinese country bumpkin who had only just come over to start an internship and another who had already been working in Shanghai for some time now. We had breakfast at a tiny restaurant close by. Breakfast was plain rice congee with some preserved vegetables on the side and some nice shanghai dumplings – apparently they special to shanghai.

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It all costed a whooping I don’t even know how much because it was such a small amount. I think it was probably like 6RMB which is less than a dollar. We then headed back along the road I walked the previous night but further along to the Peoples Square.

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I was told the history of it and why it is called the ‘peoples square’ but perhaps because it wasn’t a very good explanation and it was kind of boring (I’m sure it isn’t), I’ve forgotten. It was a small park with many statues and monuments and some were cool but it wasn’t too exciting.

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We walked along to a a bigger garden area where there were two tunnels on either side which apparently were an area where parents take their children (adult children) on the weekend (Sundays I think) to match make with other sons and daughters (adult ones) from other families.

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there is another tunnel behind me – tunnel of marriage fixing

I hoped to see it but unfortunately that would not come to past.

We then walked through an exquisite garden with slender trees of browns and brilliant oranges and thick dark and apple greens drooping over a moss rock pool of floating autumn leaves.

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After taking sufficient photos, we arrived at the art gallery which was featuring the art works of a famous Japanese contemporary artist called Kasuma Yayoi.

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video of her taking about things in the exhibition

The exhibition was pretty cool and we spent about an hour in there looking the weird and wonderful creations. We were not suppose to take pictures in some exhibits but some were just too cool to pass up.

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looking through a mirror

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room u go into  with endless green and red dots

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a lounge/kitchen room with small dots everywhere

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sea of silver balls

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and ofcourse, it wouldn’t be japanese without tentacles

We then headed over to the Shanghai Museum of ancient Chinese art where we spent some more time looking at ancient artifacts and the stories behind them.

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looking out from the museum of ancient chinese art

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It was interesting but I lost interest after a while, not to mention it was huge – like 5 stories or so. Luckily it was cut short when my friend lost her phone and after a hastily exit, ran back to the art exhibition to where she had accidentally left it.

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a shot from in the gardens near peoples square

By that time, we had lost one my other friend and without a way to contact him, we decided to continue on with the day. After getting a little snack, we caught the train from Peoples Square a few stations down to Luijiazui where we got off on the other side of the river from where were staying.

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famous shanghai jerky – this one was a pork one. Its a terrible picture but its really good jerky.

We approached the grand tower that could usually be seen towering above the rest of the city from most places.

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it was too tall so i couldnt get it all in one picture

Entry was expensive (220RMB ~38AUD) and I wanted to go to the top which was okay but a little too pricey for my friend who was but a poor country graduate, so thinking that I could just go another day in my week long stay, we had lunch at a nearby restaurant instead.

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Although it was great having a Chinese around, she wasn’t a local either so I really had to find our way for both of us, including where was good to eat all the while having to consider the price range to suit my friend. Having come from such a fortunate country like Australia, I felt kind of bad and it became kind of a burden as I would end up waiting with her at a bank after we ate. After settling whatever she needed to do at the bank, we came back around to The Bund down the road from Nanjing road station.

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It was around 430 ish and the sun was lingering above the horizon. Despite the sunny weather, the weather was still biting cold with the addition of the wind and became even colder near the harbour side.

On one side were a series of buildings from old shanghai that looked amazing, and even more so at night – although for some reason  i didn’t seem to take a picture of it on this particular night.

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On the other side of the Bund, the view as we looked over at the group of towers and skyscrapers among the Pearl tower where we were before was really cool too. 

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As we strolled down the long promenade, the sun began dissolving into the horizon and one by one, the buildings lights started to turn on and flicker on the other side of the Huangpu River.

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Hands grasped tightly in my pockets to hide from the cold, we walked for a long while down the promenade and back. During that time, the walkway transformed as sunlight faded and the city lights of Shanghai radiated fantastically by the shimmering harbour waters.

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Along the walk back to the hostel, I finally found some the red balls on a sewer that were everywhere in Beijing but scarce in Shanghai. Having not known whether they were sweet or salty and how they tasted, I bought one to try. Though I still don’t know what they are called, they are some kind of sourish fruit covered in red toffee.

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Inside the fruits were small seeds that were kind of burdensome to dispose of especially eating them on the street. So I ended up just dropping them on the ground because when in China, do as the Chinese do – except a little more subtly. Arriving back at the hostel, I don’t actually remember what I had for dinner or even what I did that night but I’m quite sure I wasn’t drugged or drunk. I most probably hung around the hostel lounge and honed my snooker skills with the free to play pool table there.

First day in Shanghai – Nanjing Road

I woke up early to catch the airport bus but unsure on how long it take to get there, I decided to catch a taxi instead just so to be safe than sorry. I got some breakfast at a Shanghainese Restaurant to prepare my body for Shanghai City before checking in and boarding my flight.

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Leaving the country, I looked back through the boarding gates droopy eyed, lacking in sleep but also in sadness. Hong Kong was a beautiful country, where every corner you turn, you could find something remarkable and awesome. Even though the sun wasn’t spotted once during the 5 days and 4 nights (yes not even at night), I could only imagine how beautiful it would be if the city wasn’t shrouded in grey mist all the time. I forgot to take notice of whether I saw a moon or not but I’m not too into moons lately (sorry moon). IMG_0656

It was a good destination to take a break in after the more rugged city of Beijing before I hit the streets of Shanghai. Wishing I had another weekend to experience the wonders of Lan Kwai Fong, I slouched back with a bit of regret into the passenger seat. As I touched down into Shanghai PNG airport, any remaining regret has vanished and I was anticipating Shanghai which had a different feel from Beijing.

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Intially, probably because there was a galore of Shanghai tourist pamphlets and maps which I made sure to load up on even getting doubles of some, just in case, you know. I dragged my luggage along through the huge airport to the station where there were of course, bag checks! Getting the okay from Mr bag checking man, I caught the train to Nanjing Road which is well known for the Nanjing Road where there are many luxury brand name shopping stores and buildings as well as being in close proximity to many of the famous tourist sites such as the Bund, a prominent night life spot situated by the Huangpu river in Shanghai (thumbs up). I came out of the subway and without a doubt, rain was pouring down. Umbrella in one hand, smaller backpack(still quite sizable) in the other and trying to shrug my big backpack on more comfortably on my sweaty, sticky garments, I ventured out onto Nanjing Road to start my search for my hostel. Lugging my luggage longer than I wanted, I had a little trouble situating my guest house due to the dodgy map I screen shotted in Hong Kong. Without internet, I wondered the streets asking a few people. Most people weren’t very helpful. Perhaps it was partly my fault due to the poor quality of the map on my small iphone screen. I asked a guard similar to the one I had met on my first day in Beijing and why did I expect him to be any different – he pointed me in the wrong direction, almost before he even looked at the map and shrugged me off as soon as he could. Although there were times I thought of giving up and just becoming a Shanghai rice farmer, eventually found the place to much relief. I checked to a pretty awesome and social guest house (I would find out) but I headed straight to my room and flung my exhausted self onto the bunk bed (crawled up the ladder first as I was on the top bunk) and fell into a good 2 hours of sleep.

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I woke up after a few hours at 8pm and hurried out to stroll around the city a bit before the night ended. The rain had mostly stopped and I walked down Nanjing road where the buildings had come to life in the night. IMG_1340

Little bus like trams rang their bells carrying passengers through the thick of crowds while other trams where situated down the street for just seating or cover which was pretty cool.

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I walked for a while before turning into the smaller streets adjacent the larger ones but there were a stark contrast to the main street.

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There were also not many street lights on some of them and for some roads, the light of the larger buildings on the main street provided light in the illuminated sky.

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The sight of familiar names like Family Mart (popular convenience store in Korea) was a comforting sight as all I found in Beijing were dodgy and shady looking ones (there probably weren’t).

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I found a really small quiet little food store (I wouldn’t even call it a restaurant) and decided to give it a go since it was a lot more welcoming than the ones on the main street. The menu was on the roof outside and all in Chinese so I said in my terrible terrible Chinese, what good eat? She pointed me to something I didn’t have a clue what it was, but like many other times, I waited to see what would be put in front of me. It was some nice noodles which I would come to have a few times in my shanghai stay. The soup was a little spicy and the noodles were really well made with a bowl of special pork on the side. The pork still had its bones and lots of fat on and didn’t look too advertising however was really tasty.

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The lady was super kind which was nice as I found it hard to find genuine hospitality from randoms in China. I walked back along and wondered why I didn’t find the Bund, the walk along the harbour and later realised it was in the other direction of where I had walked. I shrugged it off and came back to the hostel and sat around in the big lounge area writing my blog and planning my next day. There I befriended some nice people and seeing that I didn’t already have a plan, I agreed to join them where ever they were going the next day.