When I told my friend that I’ve bought return ticket Jakarta-Shanghai departing in less than a month, he told me I was ‘sick’. I, surely, had asked for permission from my husband and my parents after doing quick research about how safe China is in general. After convincing everyone that it is pretty safe (at least by my standard who lived more than half of my life commuting from Bekasi to Jakarta), I purchased the promo ticket from Garuda Indonesia. So far, it was the most impulsive trip I’ve ever done (well, err, maybe number 2 most impulsive after the Lucy Rose & Young Dreams concert last year) and I guess it’ll be my favorite to tell in the future because:
- It wasn’t that well-planned (by my standard, which means I still put my itinerary in table format and maps printed)
- My first solo trip with hijab
- My Chinese is limited to “Ni Hao” and “Xie Xie” (and “Wo Ai Ni” which is useless anyway) because “Cap cay” and “Puyung Hai” surely didn’t work in China. I proved it myself :O
- It included a night train taking about 14 hours (from Shanghai to Xi’an)
- I only relied on wifi for internet access but the biggest problem was the fact that Google doesn’t work and Baidu maps only uses Chinese characters
I applied the the visa about D-2 weeks or so because my passport got stuck in Imigrasi Balikpapan for a silly reason so I had to apply for the Express service. Based on experiences, I prioritized things I need to prepare so the important major things were prepared: I booked the hostels, the domestic flight and train, I printed the maps (captured from Google Maps) and plotted the stations and major tourist attractions I was interested in. For the first time, I had anxieties before traveling. I heard things about Chinese: that they can’t speak English, they aren’t helpful, and the toilets are filthy.
But then I thought: just go.
I’m grateful that I did it because China impressed me, a lot. The whole trip was far above my expectation and felt… great! I thought that things would look cheap and fake and sound annoying (well, the latter was quite right… :’))). I was wrong. I forgot (or simply ignored my minimal history knowledge) that China got very high civilization. That they built The Great Wall hundred years before Christ. That Chinese invented paper. That they surely have more complicated language. That their first emperor tried to invent something to live forever which was surely…… futuristic :p
I plan to post the stories and pictures separately later but let me tell the summaries here first x)
After arriving at Shanghai Pudong and riding the Maglev train, I started my real adventure figuring out how to get to Shanghai Railway Station. The Metro signs weren’t clear and my eyes hurt *exaggeration* seeing only Chinese characters :’O After some laps and lucks, I got to the station and purchased the return ticket of bullet train to Suzhou.
I spent my first day in Suzhou, the canals town which is claimed as the “Venice of China”. I already posted the photos in Suzhou here. It was a bit shabby but pretty. The canals (and actually almost everything) were clean and still well-functioned for either transportation or touristy thing. There were cute cafes and beautiful gardens. Let me tell you once again: they (I didn’t go to the toilets though) were clean.
I spent the next 2 days in Shanghai which reminds me a lot to Jakarta, where everything is mixed: old and modern, poor and rich, even bicycles and Lamborghini. It’s a bit hard to summarize everything only in 1 paragraph but if you’ve been to Jakarta, just imagine Jakarta plus metro, minus everybody spitting now and then, here and there.
On the third night, I departed to Xi’an, the ancient capital of China by night train. I had one of my best sleep there and woke up to the moving view of pinkish trees on the windows. I didn’t go to Beijing and climb on The Great Wall. I somehow preferred going to Xi’an, one of the knots of Silk Road and see the Terracota Army. I didn’t regret it at all :)
Well, here is my Reverse Bucket List for a week in China!
- Riding on Maglev train, moving 300km/hr.
- Becoming pedestrian in Shanghai and crossing the roads safely!
- Chinese garden in Suzhou
- Old looking Pingjiang District, Suzhou
- Selfie with The Pearl Tower
- Pretending to understand contemporary art in M50, Shanghai
- Night shopping in Nanjing Road
- Got offered ‘Tea’ in Shanghai, the famous tourist trap :p
- Seeing Terracota Army
- Climb an ancient Chinese wall (not The Great wall, though)
- Eat giant Fried Squid (and tons of other street snacks) in Muslim Quarter
- Eat noodles in China… WOW! :p
- Got engaged in Chinese-English conversation………………
- Use one of the worst airlines in the world, Southern China (and turned out not that bad!)
- Doing well in bargaining with Chinese souvenir sellers! ;P
I also plan to give some tips and tricks in Bahasa but later…… Okay…. Janji! :p
Zai jian for now!