The lie in was heavenly this morning, following which I took a taxi to the very start of West Nanjing Road and walked the length of it stopping every so often in coffee shops and reading ‘Tender is the Night’. I went to the markets and bartered for some wellies (the only snow-appropriate shoes I could think of for Harbin). My Chinese came in useful and just by answering their English in Chinese I halved the starting price. From there I walked to the French Concession and sat for hours. I may as well have been in Paris, reading about France and surrounded by beautiful architecture in a lovely coffee shop. When it closed I went to Yuan and had a gin and tonic; I wasn’t ready to go back to the hostel and I reading in my favourite cocktail bar was really relaxing. Opposite Yuan is a tiny Chinese restaurant with about 5 tables where I ordered something that sounded remotely like something I had had before. The Chinese people only stopped staring when they realised I could adequately use chopsticks and therefore would be boring.
Whilst in Hong Kong over Christmas, Alex borrowed his friends deodorant and suffered an allergic reaction resulting in something under his arm that caused him considerable pain and the inability to lift his arm. Without telling any of us, the clinic at university advised him to go to the hospital to have antibiotics. To his surprise however, upon arriving at the hospital they informed him that he would be having an operation. Said operation cost £12 (worrying in itself) and he was laid on a table with minimal local anaesthetic as they cut into his arm. The story, as told by Alex, involves a lot of screaming and swearing as the operation that would (in Britain) be done with general anaesthetic was the most painful thing he’s ever been put through. For the next couple of days he had to return to the hospital to have an antibiotic drip and for a cleaning of the wound. We took it in turns to accompany him and the stories that returned were scary. Sam’s accompanying day resulted in her witnessing a child being held above the bin and going to the toilet in a room full of people on drips. On the day I went, Alex got the news that he wouldn’t have to come back to the hospital again as he could get antibiotics from the clinic on campus and we celebrated by finding a Costa coffee and having the biggest hot chocolate you could order. (The cup has two handles as it is effectively a bowl). The experience made me realise how little I want to get ill here.
The Kershaws Arrive in Ningbo
This morning we went to a fake market on West Nanjing Road by recommendation of Harry (from Mister Harrys). Here we were encouraged to bargain much more and Rebecca left with some Uggs and me, a new bag. My mother had an argument with a guy who sold us two phone chargers that weren’t right (we realised before we left the ‘shop’) but he refused to give us the money back. After a bit of a discussion in Chinese we managed to get half back if we still bought one charger. It fit my phone so I wasn’t particularly fussed.
Bargaining was fun though and I positively shocked people when I told them the price they offered was too expensive in Chinese. Having done this, we went to the train station and set off for Ningbo; my parents, surprised as I was, that the trains were so nice. Today upon arrival in Ningbo, we took a black cab and negotiated a price instead of waiting in the huge taxi queue. It was a bit rickety and sounded slightly like it was going to fall apart, but we made it to the Sofitel in one piece and have spent the rest of the day looking around Wanda Plaza and relaxing in the hotel.