Guess where I am? A train station. Guess what I am doing? Waiting. Guess what all the guys cramped into the little anteroom outside the toilet are doing right under the no smoking sign? That's right, smoking! Plus c'est change. As far as new experiences go, well, I am interacting with my first Chinese schizophrenic right now, she is seated directly across from us, letting her invisible enemies have it and chain-smoking and chain-spitting up a storm.I am avoiding eye contact as best I can as she is pretty agitated.
So I want to retract yesterday's (she has moved over a row to pick up a newspaper) 100% glowing revue of Shanghai. I am downgrading it to "no cooler than New York." I guess yesterday was all sunny and bright, and we spent most of it in the French Quarter, and the subway lines we took were brand new. Today was grey and cold and polluted and snowy/rainy. The subway line (#2) was older and dirtier, Lujiazu station was missing ceiling tiles and Pudong was a bitter disappointment. Sure the Oriental Pearl Tower was like a pretty CN Tower, and the Shanghai World Financial Centre was like the worlds tallest bottle opener, but everything we saw was touristy and sorta gross. Imagine Niagara Falls surrounded by enormous sun-blocking office towers. To be fair, we didn't wander far from the edge of the river, and perhaps if it had been warmer we could have had a better time, but it wasn't and we didn't. We did decide to check out the Shanghai Insect Museum, which instead of the interesting educational science centre thing I had hoped for, turned out to be the most hateful, disgusting animal torture center slash petting zoo from Hell I have ever seen. I am so ashamed I spent money there. If there is such a thing as a Chinese ALF, I hope they liberate everything there and then burn the shit-hole to the ground. On the plus side for Pudong we did have a nice coffee in the Super Brand Mall.
Back in Shanghai proper we had a stroll along the Suzhou Creek, and then down the Bund, taking in the faded European grandeur. After that we walked in the centre of the Huangpu section of the city and visited the tres lovely Gongdelin Vegetarian Restaurant (since 1922 no less.) It was a fancier place, in a fancier neighborhood than last night's vegetarian restaurant, but the price was only a little bit more. Some things were nicer (tea, service), some worse (the meatballs). Both were excellent over-all, but if you are ever at the Gongdelin, don't bother with the Fried Sparrow. too much batter, not enough sparrow.
Now we are waiting for the train to Suhzou. Had a bit of a scare when the automated ticket booth kept telling us there were no more trains tonight, but we found a human and she sold us some. I think tomorrow is just lying around.