Shoes and Shanghai national museum

On my final day (Monday) in Shanghai I first had to buy some new shoes. My “bargain” shoes from New Zealand which cost NZ$25 (£8) turned out to be not so great and they were still so wet in the morning that I had to borrow the orange plastic flip flops from my hostel to go across People’s square to the shanghai department store to pick up some shoes as I wanted to have dry socks to try them on.

It might have been a fun challenge to try and complete the whole trip with a pair of flip-flops but it wouldn’t have been fun in Siberia where I head next for sure! I first headed upstairs to the outlet section where they had real (but old) Nike and Adidas shoes. Unfortunately they were all very trainery and unsurprisingly few of them looked particularly good though the quality looked fine. So instead I headed to the lower floor to pick up some smart shoes as I need some and the Chinese don’t seem to have many shoes in the middle ground between trainers and smart shoes – I’ll have to pick some up back in the UK. There I got some good quality shoes for ¥420 but they are rubbing a little at the back so I think it was probably my least bargainous Shanghai buy.

Then after returning the flip-flops and picking up some insoles for my new shoes (which was difficult actually as they weren’t generally sold by shoe shops.) I headed to the shanghai museum. This had some interesting Buddhist statues and some excellent and really detailed bronze and jade work that was worth seeing as well as some interesting Chinese art – they seem to be keen on greyish nature pictures which makes an interesting change and is very different from European landscapes. There was also some good pottery but it was no more impressive than any other I’ve seen in other places. Overall it’s worth visiting but it’s not amazing and it is difficult because everything is catergorized to get a feel for the history. Credit though is due as virtually all the descriptions were in English as well as Mandarin.

After that I returned to my hostel and we went for a traditional Chinese Mcdonalds before I went and caught my train to Xi’An. The train was uneventful though IMO not as comfortable as the Vietnamese first class trains we took there as the beds are a little narrow. It was pretty quick though taking 13.5 hours to cover the 1200km from Shanghai to Xi’An.

Suzhou

On my second last day in Shanghai I headed over to the gardens of Suzhou. I left on the 10.30am train after getting my Xi’An ticket and sitting around for the requisite amount of time. I got to go first class as well which was nice but unnecessary. It was my own fault though as I didn’t specify and I’d specifically asked for a first class ticket to Xi’An – in case I can’t get all my shopping in my backpack I want it to be safe in a normal bag. I shouldn’t complain too much as it was only another ¥5 and I got a free water. The train was pretty quick and I think it got up to 200km/h.

Suzhou was pretty interesting after arrival and I first saw an OK Chinese temple before visiting a quite interesting museum on silk production – they were currently making some silk on an old loom that didn’t even have a mechanical shuttle. After this I tried to go to another museum but I couldn’t find it – on the way I found some canals which Suzhou is partly known for before looking at a couple more gardens which Suzhou is really famouse for. These were good but not great. Partly because I don’t enjoy them that much and partly because it’s winter I’m sure. For lunch I did manage to have a small portion of Chinese dumplings which was good. After this I headed back to the train station where I got my ticket. I had to wait so first I headed to KFC for supper before settling down in the waiting room for my train.