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April 3, 2006

Shanghai skyline

I’m in China!

More specifically, I’m in Shanghai!

Kyoto was freezing, and although the cherry trees were in bud I didn’t quite catch the blossom. I did get snow to make up for it, though. In my last few days in Japan for some reason I developed an inexplicable craving for ‘omrice‘ – rice wrapped in a thin omelette, which is odd in that it seems to be a Western-style dish that is Japanese. For almost the whole time I was in Japan I hardly ever ate it, and then right at the last minute I realised that it is brilliant and ate it at every opportunity.

I met up with Graeme and Kasumi for a last wander round Kyoto, and then on Friday morning I went across to Osaka and boarded the boat for Shanghai. I’ve ridden three boats so far (Okinawa – Kagoshima, Fukuoka – Osaka, and Osaka – Shanghai), and each one has been better than the previous one. The one to Shanghai was great – very comfortable, and much more sociable than plane travel. The only downside is that 36 hours after I got off the boat, I’m still swaying slightly, though that’s more strange than unpleasant.

Last night I wandered up and down the Bund – the grand European-style riverside in Shanghai – ate a big Chinese meal, and then went to a bar to see a great jazz band for free! I haven’t been to that sort of gig in Japan at all, and have missed it. The bar was full of people of probably at least a dozen nationalities, but had none of the artificial, limbo-like feeling that ‘foreigner bars’ in Japan tend to have – probably because foreigners are much less out of the ordinary here. The city is a crazy mix of ramshackle and futuristic. I didn’t really plan to come here, but I’m glad I have, and I’m considering staying a couple of days longer than I’d planned before I catch the overnight train to Hong Kong…

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