The journey began when we left for Ningbo train station at quarter past four on Friday afternoon. After waiting for a taxi for a little while, we were on our way! We hadn’t booked tickets ahead because there are lots of trains to Shanghai and each train has sixteen carriages. Brona and Artie (friends of Rachel) before we left that there were still seats available on the 18:20 train and told us there were two hundred free. However by the time we had arrived at close to five o’clock and they’d reached the front of the queue, it was sold out. Thus we had a longer wait for the 21:20 train but it passed quickly!
I now am a master at escalators as we couldn’t see a elevator anywhere! I don’t have a wheelchair at my leisure anymore so i have been having a good workout in the crutches. So we headed up to KFC to have a late lunch and pass the time comfortably. Rachel was a gem and dashed over to McDonald’s for me because I’m not a KFC fan. I also managed to facetime Hannah which was sooo lovely.
If being a blonde “laowai” (foreigner) didn’t make the Chinese population stare at me, a laowai being on crutches made me the star of the show. As I was sat chatting to Hannah, people stared as they wandered past. Especially at my foot. It’s incredible to watch how they react when they see me. Some have surprised faces and raise their eyebrows, some furrow their eyebrows as if they are confused and others just stare at me blankly. Although as I hobbled through the main hall of the train station where hundreds of people are waiting.. There were some people who were laughing! I’ve become very good at now looking back at them or if I do, smile like a loonatic (I hope that’s the right spelling).
After KFC we changed venues and went to Costa Coffee. I found diet coke. I cannot explain my euphoria. I even instragrammed it because I was that happy. We also had a cake each which was yummy! It was so nice to have something sweet because puddings aren’t a thing here. Unless it’s fruit or green tea ice cream.. So I was on cloud nine.
We got on the train easily and were in Shanghai in no time, the journey took an hour and a half! The Chinese have little regard here for someone on crutches. Some are very kind, but others just want to run me over so they can get somewhere first. When we waited for the lift to take us down to the exits, this woman with a trolley tried to wiggle her way in front of Brona and I to get in this tiny lift first. I decided I was having none of it and stepped right in front of the elevator doors so she couldn’t get through unless she pushed me in. This makes me seem quite harsh. However if you don’t copy how they do things and be courteous like the British are, you will be at the bottom of the dog pile easily.
Once we were in the arrival hall there were loads of people approaching us offering a taxi service. Tip: never accept a taxi from these people, especially late at night or on your own, because they over charge you. We refused them and headed to the normal taxi rank which was rammed with people queuing. One driver persevered though. We had to go to my hostel first, then the other three would continue on to their hotel in Pudong (on the other side of the city!) for their flight the following morning. This driver quoted us 400¥ (£40) to go to both these places. We continued to refuse but as the taxi rank for ever more crowded and people were getting too close to my foot for my liking, we agreed to it. Although we felt a bit on edge, it was a much better decision. The queue for a taxi would have taken two hours. So I gave the girls my part of the fare and off we went. It was quite a trek to his taxi and I felt a bit weak along the way but it was a big comfortable seven seater so I felt it was worth the hike!
The hostel was great, I was just so happy I was finally in bed and fell asleep easily. I didn’t get up until quarter to eleven on the Saturday and was down in the lobby for quarter past. One of the staff helped me with my bag from my room and to the taxi. The airport was a easy process. I was given a wheelchair and a guy wheeled me through the fast track for security 😀 I’m feeling rather shattered still but I managed to sit in a little cafe with Italian food and put my foot up. I’ll probably sleep on the flight. I’m so looking forward to the idea of walking by the time I get back!
By half past two an airport staff member appeared to wheel me to the plane. Instead of the plane being attached to a walkway, we were taken down to minibus and carted off to the plane. There were three of us in wheelchairs, one old lady, another looking more in her mid sixties and me. Once we arrived at the plane I saw that we had to climb the steps and thought, “challenge accepted”. However we were taken around to the other side of the plane to this vehicle that has a platform to take us up to the plane level. How exciting! Then we were in and sat down. I was by the window in the front row of economy. We were delayed for thirty minutes before we eventually left at 15:45. The flight seemed to drag on a little and I was surprised at myself for not falling asleep. Obviously the romantic fiction novels I read are way too exciting. I managed to elevate my foot my resting on the tray table. When I didn’t elevate it it felt as if it had swollen a bit or that the blood was pumping through it… It worded me a little but I hope it’s okay!!
Eventually we landed in Hong Kong. Unfortunately we weren’t attached to a walkway again which indicated to me that I had really chosen a budget airline hahaha. However going down the stairs is so much easier than scrambling up! We were put in another one of these vehicles and this time driven away in it rather than catch another bus. It took us about ten minutes to leave the plane and get through to baggage! But we waited a long time in the reclaim hall.. Once my bag materialised we headed out to find Tim waiting!
I have to say that being back here and being surrounded by cantonese again does break my heart a little. Before I left for my year abroad I had had three years of being surrounded by the language every few weeks and it was such a comfort for me. I still remember words and their meanings when I hear them and it just snags a little at the memories I have that associates me to the cantonese language. I thing I am always going to have that special association to it and I am happy that I do.
And… the rest is history. I’m happy to be here. I’m sat on a big comfy couch and am about to have a steak dinner.
Is life good? Hell yes.