Saturday, August 7, 2010

Day 12. Trip to Tunxi

Not much to report since this was a travel day, so I will have to fill some space by telling you about Luke’s adventure last night.

So, we got to the hostel around 9:30 pm, bushed after walking like dogs at the Expo. But Luke, young pup that he is, still had some energy to go find something to eat. Well, temptation came his way, because the local eateries are close to the metro station, and being so close to the metro he figured he would take another look around The Bund. So he jumps in the metro and just as he is getting of the station at Nanjing Rd. he sees that the metro station is closing! Fear struck because (a) Nanjing Rd. is pretty far from where the hostel is, so he would have to walk a significant distance, and (b) he is not very oriented at night, so there was a pretty good chance he would get lost. Just then a local hoodlum comes and starts making conversation, and pretty soon figures this poor kid is lost. “No problemo”, says he “give me 25 yuan and I will take you there in my motorcycle”. Now, we have all taught our children not to talk with strangers, but these are desperate times and at the end we see Luke on the back of the bike, flying through the night streets of Shanghai (the term shanghaied comes to mind!). But this story has a happy ending, because the other guy was as good as his word and duly delivered Luke to the hostel in one piece. Ay, ay, ay, if his mother knew where her baby has been she would not be able to sleep at night.

For obvious reasons Luke had a slow start in the morning, and it was already 10 am when we arrived at the bus station, facing long lines to buy tickets in a narrow, crowded hall. But once again life was made easy by a friendly young man and his wife, who came to our rescue seeing we were clueless foreign devils. He was distraught to find out that the first run to Tunxi was at 4 pm (we had probably missed the morning run), but on my advise bought the two tickets for me. They said goodbye and headed for their own bus, while Luke and I pondered what to do.

We had a good 5 hours ahead of us, so staying at the bus station was out of the question. On the other hand, we had already made up our mind to leave Shanghai, so it was only half heartedly that we headed for the Pudong district, to see the big buildings and riverside views. After a few hours of that we looked for a place to have lunch (crab claws marinated in wine, curry vegetables, and steamed eel), and got back to the station in perfect time to catch our bus.

Tunxi must be a good 500 km from Shanghai, which we did in about five and a half hours, running mostly on a new highway. We got at Tunxi at about 9:30 pm, and right away got a taxi. The cabby brought us to the start of a brightly illuminated alley, and by signs told us that the hostel was down the alley. Turned out to be tourist alley, with all sorts of merchandise aimed at tourists, but not a tourist in sight. Maybe it is true that the Expo has diverted to Shanghai all the tourism that would otherwise now be at the mountains.

Tomorrow we will be going up the mountain, Huang Shan, so it will be a couple of days before I am able to connect again. I expect some fabulous mountain views and tough hiking.

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