y 187…Blending 21st-century architecture with old-world character, Shanghai is the vibrant pulse of new China. Here we go folks I join my leader for a walking tour of historical Shanghai including the Bund with its spectacular array of art deco style buildings, and wander the Yuyuan Gardens. These famous classical gardens were completed in 1577 by Pan Yunduan, a government official of the Ming Dynasty. We also head over to the Luwan and Xuhui Districts. Luwan’s Huaihai Road is a busy shopping street and is also home to both Xintiandi and Tian Zi Fang, extremely popular shopping and dining spots for tourists. The area’s tree-lined avenues and their many Tudor mansions still retain an air of the ‘Paris of the East’.
Then… we select dinner (KFC nuggets, iced tea and cucumber flavoured crisps for me) before we board an overnight hard sleeper train bound for Xi’an (approx 15 hrs). Train travel in China is not entirely luxurious but it’s certainly one of the best ways to come face to face with the country and its people as it’s the main form of transport for locals. Compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. Basic bathroom facilities are situated at the end of each carriage with squat-toilets and washbasins. Apart from ‘number 1s’… there is no way i use these things. They are not only seriously nasty… but honestly… even a squat toilet needs a hole LARGER THAN A 10 CENT PEICE. I feel truly sorry for the train staff continually cleaning up other peoples literal mess. No room to move or congregate and chat… tho we manage a little activity before giving up for a fitful night of uncomfortable sleep