life

One night in Shanghai…


There’s always a downside to travelling: long flights and long layovers.

  • Sometimes they afford wonderful opportunities and experiences, whilst on the flip side, they can leave you incredibly frustrated.
  • In my case it was the latter.

    Having 17 hours between flights in Shanghai the best thing to do was get a hotel. And according to Booking.com there are an abundance of reasonable hotels within 10 minutes of the airport.

    With a few clicks, my bed for the night was sorted, as was the free shuttle. All I had to do was get off the flight, get on the shuttle and then get into bed: perfect.

    But like all best laid plans, it often takes only one element to fail and everything turns proverbially pear shaped.

    My failed element was the shuttle. Yep, it wasn’t there.

    Not one to be daunted easily I simply walked over to the info desk where a lovely young girl happily offered to call the hotel.

    Enter problem number two. The number on my booking.com booking was not connected.

    ‘Sorry, number not work, you get taxi…’

    Ok so be it, taxi it is. Still undeterred I asked her to check how far and the approximate cost of the taxi. As any experienced traveller will tell you, unsuspecting tourists often get slogged for small taxi fares. Better to err on the side of caution.

    ‘Ten minute only, 60 RMB…’she said dismissing with a wave of her hand. Obviously I’d used up all my free questions, so off I went in search of the taxi rank.

    It wasn’t hard to find and after being directed to the next taxi, I showed my driver the hotel address, which was also in Chinese. With much nodding and hand waving, there was some semblance of assurance that I was on my way and I felt mildly confident that I’d soon be enjoying a hot shower and a warm bed.

    There was no doubt I was on my way, just apparently not to my hotel and my supposed 10 minute ride quickly became 30. I suppose I should’ve been grateful for the tour of Pudong and to have met a few lovely hotel receptionists at the ‘wrong’ hotels we stopped at, but fatigue and frustration had started to take over.

    Clearly my driver had no idea and just when I was about to try and get him to head back to the airport, he started gibbering excitedly and was gesturing toward a brightly lit building.

    ‘Jie Jia, Jie Jia…’ he shouted gleefully behind his plastic driver protection screen, whilst animatedly pointing at a brightly lit building.

    Apparently, we’d finally arrived.

    Thirty minutes and a hot shower later, I sat on the bed and had a little giggle to myself. Yep, travel certainly presents challenges that can result in frustration, but I guess it comes down to how we let those challenges affect us.

    Sometimes you just have to let it ride over you and smile.

    P.S

    And on the plus side of my soirée in Shanghai. Meeting fantastic China Eastern crew and two hilariously funny Chinese tourists whilst waiting in line to board the flight to Paris. They were in the 70’s, thought I was Russian, then on finding out I was on my own, Australian and walking across Spain, I became their hero 🤣🤣🤣. I could easily dedicate an entire post to them …

    Fabulous China Eastern crew – checking out 1st Class

    travel

    Two days and counting…


    Daphne has been dressed and undressed multiple times over the last few days. She’s been pulled, prodded, squeezed and squashed, but all for a good cause. For Daphne is and will be my main companion over the coming weeks and her bits being just right is paramount for our upcoming journey.

    If you don’t know me personally, then I imagine you could be somewhat confused with the first paragraph. But if you do know me, then you’ll know I’ve always had a penchant for naming inanimate objects, particularly luggage. I spent over 20 years travelling the world as an international flight attendant, and giving my luggage names simply became the norm.

    With that explained, Daphne, if you hadn’t already figured is my backpack. And a rather lovely one at that. She’s a ruby red, rather slim 28 litre Deuter: which means I need to be ruthless with my packing choices. Couple that with the fact Daphne and I will literally be joined at the hip, reducing her weight is a necessity.

    Stanley, my beloved wire-haired dachshund is not too happy about Daphne’s presence…

    So I’m pleased to say she weighs a doable 6.5 kgs. A little over the suggested 10 % of the carriers body weight ( I’m 59kgs) but all in all I think we’ve done well. There are items that have no emotional attachment, so if I need to offload on the way, it’ll be easy.

    However I’ve also packed an item that DOES have emotional attachment. My Dad’s rain jacket.

    He passed away 2 years ago, and I felt it was really important to carry something that belonged to him. Whenever I travelled he would often tell me to make sure I was warm or dry, so taking his rain jacket is for me poignantly significant. It is also something that he and Mum bought together, so in some ways they are both coming along for the ride. Which, as Mum told me yesterday, makes her really happy.

    So with Daphne sorted and Stanley somewhat miffed and definitely suspicious of what lies ahead, we are pretty much ready.

    Yep, two days and counting… 🙂

    travel

    A walk across Spain…


    A few years ago I watched a beautiful movie titled The Way. A touching story about a man whose life changed after walking the Camino de Santiago.

    Call me ignorant, but I’d not heard of the Camino before watching this film, but in the aftermath of its ending, I was left feeling the need to discover more.

    And on researching, I realised I wanted to walk the Camino. Not because I needed to mirror the impact it had on Martin Sheen’s character, but because I simply wanted to experience the emotional and physical challenges the Camino appeared to present.

    As a self-proclaimed empath, it’s the emotional challenges that will undoubtedly be the most confronting. Why? Because the thought of having to share ‘personal space’ with strangers is terrifying as my need for solitude is a profound part of my being. Without it, I tend to become anxious and withdrawn. Couple that with my fear of socialisation and you have to wonder why I’m subjecting myself to such obvious personal adversity. But isn’t that what life is about? Finding ways to challenge adversity, albeit personal or otherwise?

    Yes, I could opt out of dormitory accommodation and choose to stay in private rooms, but what is the point of that? In doing so, I’d be taking the easy way out and not honouring my reason for walking, which is, to experience the challenges.

    And that brings me to the physical challenge of walking up to 30 kilometres a day across diverse terrain. Funnily enough I’m exhilarated at the thought of placing one foot in front of the other, hour after hour. These long treks will be my emotional charging station. My time for refection, my time for solitude. My time to allow the weight of past hurt to slowly slip away with every forward step. Of course fear is there, I’m human after all, but the need to discover things about myself is far greater than that fear.

    My walk across Spain will undoubtedly present a myriad of emotional, physical and social challenges. And as I write these words in the comfort of my home , surrounded by my beloved dogs, I’m ready, ready to embrace whatever the Camino places in my path.