All over red rover

Asia ~ China ~ Shanghai

Well, I’ve done it, it’s all over.  6 weeks of intensive study in Shanghai have finally been pulled off – not without the occasional hiccup – and I’m ready to move on…

Last week was the craziest it’s been in Shanghai, beginning with New Years eve.  We started off at an all-you-can-eat steakhouse, which had the best steak I’ve ever eaten, ANYWHERE.  And no, I’m not just saying that because I’m steak deprived, it really was that good.  76 kuai (about $12 AUD) for as much steak and vegies as you can fit – and the best part was, they bring the steak right to your table and carve it up for you.  Delish.  After dinner we roused ourselves from the table (not easy given the fact that we were delirious on meat) and went off to find a cab.  Given this city has more cabs than it does people, you’d think this would be easy enough – not so on New Years Eve.  Eventually we got one (involved our tall foreigners running up and down the main road, I think we scared the other Chinese into thinking we’d mug them if they didn’t let us have the taxi) and headed back to the hotel, to meet up with the other group.

And that’s where the troubles really began.  Jumped into another taxi with a different group of ppls and off we went.  Despite having a Mandarin speaker with us, we ended up at the wrong place.  As my clock struck 11.20pm, and we hadn’t managed to find another taxi, I realised I was going to spend New Years on the corner of a crazy street in Shanghai, with an even crazier group of people, AND I couldn’t see and vodka in sight…  That was enough to spur me into action and off I bounded to find another taxi.  We got one – a dodgy one mind you, but we got there.  Who cares if we pay a dodgy taxi driver $9 Australian instead of $5 – at least I got my vodka!

We walked into our venue for the night – a rave in a Chinese Art Gallery – at 11.50pm and I got my drink in time for the count down.  Small miracles.  The rest of our night was primarily spent at the rave, before heading off to another club and then a different bar.  Arrived in my bed at 9.30am New Years day, not a bad effort.

Class Photo

Class Photo

Other than that, my week was crazy, studying like mad for the final exams on Thursday and Friday.  Exams are now over, it’s kinda sad but I’m ready to move on.  Last night (Friday night) was spent celebrating and packing, ready to move on.  You wouldn’t believe how much rubbish I’ve accumulated over the past 7 weeks, it nearly all fits in my bag.  Kinda.  Other than the hour it took to pack my bag, I spent last night farewelling all and attempting not to drink – I have to catch a ferry to Japan in 3 hours.  Despite the determination not to drink, I managed to not get any sleep, which has the same effect, so I’m desperately hoping for good weather on the trip, do not want to be sea sick!

Next blog will be from Japan, woohoo!

xoxo Bobs

Phi Phi Islands

Asia ~ Thailand ~ Phi Phi Island

Well well well, another day another adventure. Tash and I are just about to leave Phi Phi Island, its been like a dream. After spending two nights on trains we ended up in Phuket (Southern Thailand). The trains weren’t tooo bad, the first one was a sleeper train, we had beds and everything. The second one, however, didn’t have any sleepers left (we didn’t book early enough), so we ended up on seats for a 13 hour train trip. Ugh. Oh yeh, while we were in Bangkok, on our way down here, I had my hair plaited. Blonde and Purple, almost down to my waist. Very different, have got quite a few comments.

Anyway… Phuket was different, we spent the time on Karon Beach, there was no evidence of the Tsunami there. People were really nice, but obviously hurting, it was so quiet, no tourists anywhere. Meanwhile, we managed to find a mexican resturant that sold jugs of mararitas for about $4. mmm. Tash and I have got quite accustomed to the local drinks, the beer (Singha is the best) and the cocktails (mmm Mai Tai is awesome). But dont drink the whiskey….

We also went and visited Katong beach, the destruction there was obvious. All the resturants along the main beach had been wiped out, but were well on the way to being re-built. Construction was happening all around and people were really happy to see tourists starting to visit again. When we were there, they were having a bit of a celebration, to get the tourists through, so we sat on the beach for a while, having dinner and drinks.

The next day we set off for the Phi Phi Islands. Ferry across was uneventful, after watching a horror movie on giant squid we kept our eyes open though… Arrival at Phi Phi Don (the larger of the islands) was, well, theres no way to describe it. The tsunami had really hit here. The main beach, which used to be a collection of beautiful beach huts, stores, resturants and bars was just sand, dirt and corrugated iron. Some of the stores were being propped up by who knows what, others were tumbling into the sea. On our way through town to our hotel, we could see that basically everything had been wiped away. Surprisingly, here and there were places that apeared not to have been touched at all. Scary.

Eventually we made it to our resort, which only survived because it is on a hill, the waters didn’t reach it. It used to have a bridge crossing the canal in front of it, but that was washed away. In its place stands three planks that we had to wobble across (with our huge, heavy packs!!!) to get to the resort. Tsunami aside, the island is absolutley beautiful. The beaches are white sand, the water is the prettiest blue you’ve ever seen. We spent four days on Phi Phi Don, with a visit to Phi Phi Lei. Phi Phi Lei is where the movie “The Beach’ was shot. We visited Maya Bay and did some snorkelling, there were fish everywhere. They all loved trying to nibble on my hair – i guess the purple and blonde is a *BIT* strange… Back on Phi Phi Island we went to a beach party on of the nights, where songs were sung and people were auctioned off for charity… All proceeds were going to helping the people re-build, so everyone was quite happy to drink up! We also had fire twirling, which was quite awesome. Met quite a few foreigners from around the world. I must admit though, Australians are definetly the loudest drinkers, that and the Irish, Tash and I pretended we werent aussie… Theres only so many times you can hear ‘Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie Oy Oy Oy’ in one night. There are about 100, maybe 150 people staying on the Island as far as I could see, an Island that used to have thousands visiting it, if anyone wants to take a holiday, I suggest Phi Phi, they definetly need the tourists, and its a beautiful place.

If you guys could see where I’m sitting to type ths email, its like paradise. I’m sitting on one of the decks at the resort, overlooking the bay, palm trees swinging in the breeze… Mmmm… Hope you’re all having a great time at home, next time I write, I’ll be in India, can’t wait, Indian food yum.

xoxo Bobs

ps Met some guys from England yesterday, they’re leaving for home today, its -4 Celcius over there right now, ugh! By the time we get there, it had better be warmer!!!