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Pacific Ocean

2 | Pacific Ocean near Shanghai


14 April (Sunday)




My airport taxi driver finally arrived at the Pacific Ocean, but first we had to get past the security guard at the Shanghai Jiuduansha Wetland.

I met Nouqi on the Hong Kong to Shanghai flight. She was a young Chinese woman, studying English in Perth and wishing to enter university to study interior design. She said she worked at a Japanese restaurant but sometimes also made money selling her drawings. Her smartphone was running low on power and as I was charging my mobile (cell) phone with a powerpack, I let her charge hers too. Her mother was waiting for her at Shanghai airport but before we said goodbye, she pointed me toward the airport taxi service.

Kelly had English and a car and a driver, dressed as if he were a pilot – along with a promise to take me to the pier within the Shanghai Jiuduansha Wetlands National Nature Reserve, all for about A$100. We estimated that the journey would take about 40 minutes. I figured that paying airport prices was much better than getting in line and trying to get this ride off the taxi rank.

Coco, Miwa’s friend from her yoga class, had kindly prepared instructions in Chinese and English that outlined the goal and the expected route. I was now prepared to accomplish a task essential to the entire journey.

Can't Find the Pacific Ocean?

My driver had no English, but worse he must have completely misunderstood the instructions that Kelly had provided. First, he took me to the golf course that bordered to the north of the Reserve and we asked the two golf-guards for instructions.

Then he took me to a five-star hotel, which would have been acceptable except that the English-speaking staff member said it had no ocean access. Fortunately, he could understand my Google Map – something my driver seemed unable to comprehend. I am not sure he could read Chinese and he certainly had no common sense, but he was pleasant enough and I tried to avoid alienating him.

Finally, we turned down the road to the Nature Reserve. There was a big sign, and I had told him to turn several times. But there was one last obstacle between me and the Pacific Ocean: a secure gate and a security guard that seemed to say the Reserve was closed on Sunday. I had invested too much into this little venture to stop so I pulled out a 100 RMB note – about A$20 – and told the driver that I was sure there must be some kind of fee to enter the Nature Reserve and that I was happy to pay now. I guessed it was a lot of money for a Chinese security guard. The guard wanted the money but seemed uncomfortable about taking it. My driver must have explained that we would only be 30 minutes. Eventually the guard took the cash and the gate opened. We headed through the reserve and out onto the pier that was marked clearly on my Google Map.

I had told everyone that I was going to dip my toes in the Pacific, but I was worried that I might instead go for a swim. The pier was four storeys above the water and the wind was strong enough to blow a child overboard. There was nothing but air between me and the Pacific. Not only was I at the Pacific coast, but we had driven past the coast and over the water. All good – lots of pictures, including of each other.

I hadn’t planned to tip my driver 100 RMB but that was my smallest note, so I got him to stop so I could buy a bottle of water. I gave him a 50 RMB tip when we arrived back at the airport.

An Evening in Shanghai

Then it was time to board the Shanghai Maglev train to East Shanghai, Line 2 to West Shanghai and the Mercure Hotel, which was my home for the night.

My two-month journey westwards had just begun. I Skyped Miwa and told her of my initial success and she told me of the satisfaction she feels sharing her life with such good friends when shopping at the Northey Street Organic market in Brisbane.

Heading out for dinner, I was pleased to find a place with an English menu. A young German fellow from Nuremberg sat down not far from me and I invited him to join me. He was in Shanghai for an international auto show, as his small Germany company specialises in LED lighting. He was responsible for setting up and taking down the company display, which meant he would work at the beginning and at the end of the auto show. He had a deal with his company to remain in China for a week, on vacation time, so that his company would not have to pay for two flights. His company was happy, and he was also.

Having had little sleep on my flights to China, I was ready for bed, and got nine solid hours after returning to the Mercure.

World globe with China highlighted in green


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