“Travel, But On A Slightly Smaller Scale,” is a guest post by blogger, Daniel from Left Foot 4Ward.
Travel is all but an essential part of many people’s education these days. I am using the word education here in a pretty loose sense. Traveling remains, by far, the best way to experience and learn about the world we inhabit. Sure you can read about it, but nothing truly compares to experiencing something yourself first-hand. The information you need as well as the means required are all but at your fingertips, through the omniscience of the internet. But, it seems to me, all we hear about is travel on a large scale. Unless a group of tribesman escorted a weary traveller 300 miles across treacherous snow-capped mountains, tiger infested jungles and hazardous sand dunes, on the back of a majestic elephant; we hear little of how anyone got from point A to point B. Now, you must forgive my cynicism hear, I just find it odd that I rarely see a travel guide discuss the necessary methods of getting from point A to B (unless I’ve just been subject to some terrible guides). So, on this very page, I will attempt to assist all you intrepid travellers in traversing the bustling streets of Shanghai! Just bear with me, I’m not usually a travel writer.
Here we are, in no particular order:
You may consider the notion of taking a taxi as rather self-explanatory; there are taxis all over the world after all. Yet, I’ve never quite met taxi drivers like I have in Shanghai. First, we should deal with the fact you never quite know what you’re getting when you cross that threshold and enter one of the various coloured taxis. (The cars are generally the same, companies are differentiated by the colour they paint their cars, red, blue, yellow for example.) One trip you may experience the joy and serenity of a calm and clairvoyant drive through a particularly beautiful section of the city. On another, you may be gripping the dashboard in front of you until you knuckles turn white, out of pure terror as the driver casually throws his car around the roads, weaving through moving traffic at what I’ll describe as uncomfortable speeds. Aside from that, as a foreigner, don’t expect every taxi to pull over to collect you, and don’t be offended either. It some cases, sure, it may be out of mistrust or dislike (how will you ever know), but more often than not taxis may not wish to pick you up because of the language barrier or they may be heading home, they may just be at the end of their shift. With the continuing rise of car booking apps, they may be on their way to another job. Sometimes you may even be ushered out of a taxi you successfully managed to flag down because your particular journey is too far. All of these things have happened to me on many occasions. Yet taxis remain a very useful and reliable means of getting around the city. It is important to note however, they don’t operate on what you may consider as conventional means. Taxi drivers won’t likely take you to a specific address, unless perhaps you can guide them. Instead they learn and memorise intersections, so you’ll need to know the nearest one to your chosen destination. Finally, payment is simple enough, just hand over the number stated on the meter. A word of warning, not all taxi drivers are honest, make sure for example they do indeed use their meter. 9/10 though, you’ll have no problem.
Another hugely reliable service, that is currently undergoing a period of expansion, having recently opened another 27 stations. There are few places that cannot be reached through these magical subterranean tunnels. They run periodically, although the time varies between lines. Expect to be stared at, whilst it seems to be less common, or perhaps I just don’t notice it as much or in the same way anymore; being foreign is still quite the novelty, especially as travellers on the metro may be from out of town. The best part about the extensive labyrinth that inhabits Shanghai’s underground is the cost. It is by far the cheapest method of getting around. But like all transport systems, it is subject to the feared menace that is rush hour. Only in Shanghai have I discovered how a sardine must feel in its can, not to say this is the only city you can revel in such an experience. At peak times on peak lines you’ll more than likely be queuing for a train, and when it arrives space will certainly be a luxury. Aside from that, at times prepare yourself to force your way of a train, despite the fact you are meant to wait for other to disembark, rarely is the form of etiquette adhered to. But I’ve yet to miss a train or a stop.
The bus drivers, much like the taxi drivers, of Shanghai are a different breed altogether; owing in part to the fact they are paid by passenger. When not caught in idle traffic, buses get you from point A to point B in the shortest time possible. They offer limited seating, which is generally occupied, but do provide rails and handle for you to hold. Buses are the undisputed kings of the roads, their size being a contributing factor, as well as the no prisoner mentality mind set their drivers possess. Again, much like the rest of the public transport in the city, they are more often than not, clean, safe and reliable which is more than I can say about a lot of other buses I have been on. The difficulty here of course is that a lot of the bus information is in Chinese, something, like many other travellers I am yet to learn to read. There are of course way around this, like the numerous apps available that detail the bus routines.
Now this list isn’t extensive, and I don’t feel I need to tell you how to walk, run, cycle or take a Uber for example, I mean you’ve been walking for some time now. Each has it’s own merits, many of which you will have already experienced countless times. So there you have it, a whistle stop tour or transportation in Shanghai, I hope you enjoyed what you read and found it in some ways useful and a little entertaining.
Travel, But On A Slightly Smaller Scale by firstname.lastname@example.org