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Not at Every Railway Station

Yesterday, my plan was to pick up the rail ticket for Xi'an, and then visit the city of Hangzou, which has a lake worth seeing. The train to Xi'an doesn't leave until Friday, but I wanted to have the rail ticket, which I bought online, in my possession before checking out of the hostel and lugging my bags to the railway station. I didn't want to be stuck at the station with my bags and having an issue with the ticket-particularly in a place where English is not widely spoken. Either Lonely Planet or the site where I bought the ticket said it can be picked up at any railway station.

So I thought a great place to start would be Shanghai West Railway Station-I figured I could kill two birds with one stone, and pick up the ticket and also buy a new ticket to Hangzou. I walked 10 minutes from the hostel to the metro-walked another few minutes through the passageway to the correct line. I waited for the train with the crowds, got on the train, and got off a few stops later, walked through a maze to the platform for the next train,, and got off at the railway station. I had trouble finding the ticket office, but eventually I found it.

One woman was working. I showed her my page with the confirmation number and my passport to pick up the ticket. I told her I would like the ticket. She clearly didn't understand, and didn't seem to know a word of English. She used Google translate on her phone (or some other translate-as Google doesn't work in China), and told me she couldn't provide me with the ticket. I pointed to the sign that said "ticket office". She told me to go to another train station. We we're going in circles, and she was clearly embarrassed that she didn't speak English. So I left frustrated, got back on another subway train with the crowds, changed trains, got on another train, and found the main station in Shanghai. Here, I waited on a long line, (there we're lots of lines here), and the woman immediately printed out my ticket.

Hangzou was 2 hours away, and now it was close to 11:00, so I decided against it. Instead, I took the train to Qibao, which promised to be a nice town on canals with charming shops, and was an easy metro ride away. So I got back on the metro, changed lines,and got off at the Qibao station.

When I got off, it didn't appear quaint-a giant shopping mall loomed over the station, with all sorts of luxury stores. I walked in the exquisite mall, and asked someone directions to the village (I just showed her the page in the guidebook-I didn't assume she spoke English to understand). She used the maps on her phone, and showed me to walk through the mall and a few blocks, and it was there.

So I found the town-it was quaint. I walked up a bridge over the canal, and then to a small museum showing how cotton was grown and how clothes we're made in town. I saw another museum of an artist named Zhang Chongren, who studied in Belgium and made all sorts of sculptures. I wanted to find the Cricket house-I learned that the Chinese used to train crickets to fight, and I would have liked to see that. I couldn't find the house no matter how hard I looked.

I did find a nice Buddhist monastery with beautiful peaceful lawns, pagodas, and monks milling about. I also passed many stalls selling different things, including clothes. I also tried a lot of the food sold, including octopus, sticky tofu, and some small eggs which we're good (I believe they are quail eggs).

I enjoyed walking around the markets, and was there until after dark. I went back to the mall to go to the bathroom,and I took the metro back downtown, where I saw a small display on street lift in Shanghai in the metro station.(part of the museum).

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:48 Archived in China

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