Thursday 14th April 2011
MP3 track of the day: What a wonderful world – Louis Armstrong
Weather: Cloudy but warm (not as warm as Hong Kong though).
Instead of waking up to the sound of rustling plastic bags I was awoken to the sound of underground trains operating. I had booked this hostel because the owner had told me it was close to the underground station I needed for the race, and he wasn't lying. As I lay in bed I heard six trains go past, hopefully meaning that there's a frequent service, from here, to the race track. As the underground stops running at 11pm it didn't keep me awake last night and I had a lovely nights sleep.
Once up I got ready for the day; I had so many jobs to complete that I couldn't sit around, however I did treat myself to a lovely long shower. Once washed I got dressed and sorted out my laundry; I then headed down to reception where I asked a ton of questions.
· Laundry – The easiest job of all. I was surprised to find that the staff did a huge bag a laundry for as little as £3. I handed over my big, bulging bag of dirty clothes to a lovely Chinese girl who said that they would be ready this evening.
· Exchanging Money – As I hadn't had time, at the airport, to exchange the 530 Hong Kong dollars (£44) I still owned, I asked for a place where I could exchange money. The 'Bank of China' was the receptionists' answer and see gave me directions.
· Post Office – As I had my 'Hong Kong picture book', a book about the Vietnam War and my South East Asian guidebook adding weight to my bag I've decided that I will post these home. I'm not going to post them home just yet as, when I attend the race, I reckon I'll purchase a programme so that might as well join the list. The receptionist told me that there was a post office near the bank; a further ten minutes walk west.
· A Supermarket – The days of visiting cheap restaurants were over; it was about time I got back to being a backpacker. With pot noodles costing 40p each I wanted to get some plus some snacks for the race (as I'm sure the track food will be expensive). Luckily I was told that there was a supermarket across the road from the post office, on the 4th and 5th floors of a large shopping center.
· Location of the underground train station to the race track – I could hear the trains running yet I didn't know where they stopped. Once again the receptionist came up trumps and she gave me directions to the closest station for 'line 11'; the line to the race.
· F1 merchandise – It is becoming apparently clear that, even though the Chinese have had a F1 race for many years, it isn't that popular. The staff were puzzled when I mentioned F1 and if they knew where to purchase clothing for it. Even with two Colombians (Who spoke both English and Chinese and had come for the race too) translating for me the message didn't really get through. Bless her the receptionist did her best and provided me with two sports shops located within town. I think the Chinese have a race just because they think that they ought to.
To avoid information over load I said thank you to the receptionist and headed out into one of the many suburbs of Shanghai. After I had back-tracked a little, as I'd taken the wrong road, I soon found the 'Bank of China'. The walk hadn't been pleasant one; unpleasant pools of water, rubbish carts and paper bags lined the streets. Looking upwards didn't improve matters; the huge blocks of flats, plus over-head highways, were looking very 1980's (with inches of grime that looked as though they started within the 1980's). There weren't that many people within the bank and yet it took quite a while to get served. Once my number was called I sat at a desk with a young Chinese gentleman, in a suit, facing me. I explained my business and, after completing a huge form (asking for my address … all I wanted was to change £40 worth of currency, not look into an endowment mortgage), I was finally given just over 400 Yuan. As I left the bank I realised that I had been given a very good exchange rate.
I then walked to the post office; it was quite easy to find due to the fact that it was completely green and that it had the words 'Post Office' written, in white, on one of it's green facades. There was also a Pizza Hut, KFC and a McDonald's within the area … which was a complete surprise. I went into the McDonald's for breakfast. Afterwards I crossed the road (almost getting run over) and into a shopping center. I traveled up four floors where I found a supermarket; the first floor was dedicated to anything but food, I therefore pushed my trolley up the vertically-flat escalator to the next floor. As I traveled forever upwards I got chatting to a lovely Chinese gentleman who, sadly, only had one leg. His degree was in English and he spoke 'British English', which he was quite proud of. I liked him even more when he was glad that I wasn't American and, if he hadn't told me that he was Chinese, I would have thought that he was British; his accent was very familiar.
We parted at the top of the escalator and I got on with my shopping. I had today, plus three days at the race track, to purchase food for. Therefore I bought:
· 5x 1.5ltr bottles of water (3x for the race track, 1x to use for cleaning my teeth and the other to use to make my pot noodles)
· 1x 1.5ltr bottle of Coke (to have with my evening meals)
· 3x packets of chocolates (for the track)
· 3x small packets of crisps (for the track)
· 3x large packets of biscuits (for the track)
· 4x Large pot noodles (not for the track; for evening meals)
· 1x packed of sweets (for the track)
· 1x small bottle of Pepsi (As, after carrying this lot back to the hostel, I was going to need a cool drink)
And that was it. In total it cost me £16 which I thought wasn't bad, considering I had everything I needed for four days … not including breakfast. I picked up the three, huge, carrier bags and quickly headed out in the direction of my hostel. All the way back I walked quickly, gritting my teeth and sweating a little. Once at my hostel I dumped my stuff within the kitchen (hope it won't get stolen) before getting my PC.
Once sitting comfortably, within the common room, I started to surf the internet. I could connect to the network however, the old 'blocking problems' were once again apparent (therefore this blog is coming from Derby within the UK … again). I downloaded, and printed off, a revised schedule of the race weekends activities. Friday practice starts at 10:00am; the two Colombians, I met earlier, were leaving the hostel around 8am and asked if I wanted to join them. This gave us two hours to get to the track and have breakfast; I gratefully accepted.
The time was now 2:30pm and there was little point in venturing out into town, on the hunt for F1 merchandise; I decided that I'll check the track prices. Instead I went in search of the closest station for 'line 11'. This was a lot more complicated than it sounds; firstly, once near to the underground interchange, the signs for 'line 11' disappeared. Secondly the first entrance I tried was closed off and after that the only entrances I found were to lines three or four. Eventually, after some searching and a few directions, I found the entrance. I checked the travel prices glad to see that it would only cost 50p to get to the track. All was now set; I was ready, and quite excited, about the next three days ahead of me.
The time was now 3:30pm. It's one of those annoying times where it's too late to start anything new but too early for tea or, frankly, anything else. I got out my PC and checked the next three days weather reports plus I made sure that Hamilton hadn't gone anything stupid and injured himself (so far he hasn't … touching wood). The weather for practice was forecast rain; qualifying is supposed to be cloudy while the race will happen in full sunshine, according to the BBC. This is good as it'll be difficult for the teams to setup their cars for the race (which should make the race more interesting). After this, as I hadn't seen anything of Shanghai today, I extended my stay until next Thursday; I spent the rest of the evening watching a film (Curse of the Golden Flower: a Chinese film, with English subtitles, that I own at home and which is a great film), having my first pot noodle (which was okay) and getting ready for tomorrow. My alarm was set for 7am.