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Semarang: Iftar Picnic Plan In Tugu Muda

23 Jul

Living in a city for longer than 2 years could provide you with more time to explore more of its hidden yet pleasurable parts of the city. I know that in most of people first impression of Semarang always about its various and delicious culinary dishes, well, because that’s what the city best known for. Yes, the food still interest me til now, but by the time I already stay longer than 4 years, it is the activities and the events that keep reminding me of a good times this city could always provide. Better yet, I got friends and a lot of friends to create moments with.

Recently, I crossed off another wish in my have-to-do list, which is held a public outing in one of Semarang’s green open space. Or perhaps something like a picnic in the public park. Several days before the Ramadhan ends, the idea to held a potluck gathering in a public park comes up in the conversation and most of people in the group easily agree with it. No detailed yet about when or where or how the gath will be, but I think the idea of group outing enthusiast everyone so they just go along with it. After some considerations, it was agreeable to held it on one of known public park in Semarang, which is Tugu Muda Park. Tugu Muda Park is a circle park surrounding the Tugu Muda’ statue located in one of the busiest intersection in the city.

Planning an outing potluck gathering is rather easy. You just need to make a list of who will bring what kind of food, simply to make sure there will be a variety of the dishes and you can easily bring something that someone hasn’t put on the list yet. Since it held in the outdoor area, make sure to pick a day that has less or even no possibility of raining; and don’t forget to bring something to cover the place you guys will sit. Also prepare for a proper amount of plastic/paper plates and cups and spoons and forks. That’s it.

Oh, one more thing. dont forget to pick the place and set the clear time and make sure everyone familiar with the direction of the place. Having difficulty explaining the location to a person who dont have a good orientation skill? Simply share your gps location. Nowadays everything just one click away.

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This is a monthly gathering of Couchsurfing Semarang, held in Tugu Muda’s Park on July 15, 2015. The spirit was awesome. The circumstances was lovely. I mean there is no rain, the wind was not so strong yet enough to comfort every single person attending the gathering. The foods were marvelous. LOL I mean there were literally so much food for everyone to eat and even still a lot of leftover which some of them still perfectly sealed.

This might be the first of many picnic moments that I would certainly love to plan again. And thanks again to everyone contributed in this moments, especially mba Eny for once again being the lovely CS ambassador and bring all of the necessary equipment for us to eat, drink and sit.  See you again in another plans, another places, and another public outings, guys! 😀

Regards,
Dea

It’s Shanghai: Chapter 4

27 Oct

“There is something seriously sexy about The Bund. Lovely, grand, historic buildings line the decedent waterfront of the Huangpu River affording an old-world charm, albeit European, to the “Paris of the Orient”.

Nicole, from Minnesota.

If you check on my previous post, I already told you about The Bund. A Shanghai’s famous symbol for more than 100 years. As a landmark of Shanghai, the Bund is a must for visitors who come to Shanghai, especially those who only had a short-visit-time. It is a good place to start to know about this amazing city. The Bund is the long corridor of Shanghai. It shows the culture of Shanghai and the creation of modern civilization to people. In a short sentence, The Bund is a definite MUST SEEN!

The first chance I visit The Bund was in the noon to spend almost all of my afternoon there. The view of Pudong district from across the Huangpu River was spectacular, I must admit. I think I have a good time there. That was one time and for me, it was enough. Later, it turns out that I was totally wrong.

Anyway… since the conference started, I barely had any free time, like in seriously. The conference was running in a tight schedule. It looked like they already planned everything out, right from I woke up until the bed time. The breakfast time, group discussion time, tea break and lunch, field-trip, dinner, also entertainment time at night, well… I think you get the picture, right? Hahaha I once joked about this to some Chinese friends I made back there on the conference, about how the committee successfully accommodate almost all of our time the whole day yet tend not to forget about “the fun” part. They just laughed and joked back “that is Shanghai’s conference style” Lol honestly, I don’t mind to go through these “Shanghai’s conference style” once more 😀 it was sure tiring but also refreshing and fun at the same time.

It was at lunch break that I finally had a proper conversation with various people from different groups (yep, we were divided into five group with five different topics) and most of people talked about the possibilities of going out to some places or just anywhere at night. While everyone seems pretty excited on participating in the discussion, I just sit there listen quietly and started to take note in my mind about the destination they talked about. Lol it’s not like I don’t want to join the conversation or something, but I was that type of person who tend to zip their mouth when they were extremely enjoying a really delicious meal. In another word, I was stunned. And cannot perform the action of speaking other than complement the food taste which, I was sure of, was not the main topic to talk about from most people in the table that time. My only regret is that I have no name to tell you with, because I don’t know the food myself and that I forget to ask about it *sigh*.

Sooo.. This was it. There were two plans made, with the same destination, The Bund, mere on the different day.  It seems like the best suggestion compared to the other places considering we will be going at night. The plan was simple. Go directly to there and spend as long as we can, also perhaps do some shopping, then go back. We got some advises to pick a bus from in front of the university instead of using subway. The reason? They said it was the most efficient way since our intention is merely to enjoy The Bund at night.

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waiting at the bus stop

The bus stop is nothing like the subway station. A much simple one, just a space with bus stop’ sign on it. But you wouldn’t miss it, for sure, because it is easy to notice. It took approximately 15 minutes to find a bus with certain number (the number showed in the bus define its route) and another 25 minutes to reach our destination. All of us kept the conversation to minimal as we busy to pay more attention to everything outside the bus, that was, at least, until the view of The Bund began to appear in our sight. And it was….gorgeous.

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View from inside the bus

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Beautiful, sparkling buildings in The Bund area

 To see The Bund at night, made me see that place in a new, different perspective. Yes, The Bund is an incredible sight during the day. Yet at night, it was sparking beautiful place. For a few hours when all the lights are turned on (from about 7pm til 10pm) it is like a sparkling memory from centuries ago. Like a fairy tale in the middle of Shanghai. The modern city truly comes alive at night. Shanghai has gone through extensive development over the past century and The Bund, a walkway lining the west bank of Huangpu River, has become a hallmark of development and growth in China. After evenings, the buildings across the river light up with vibrant neon colors transforming Shanghai into a city of lights.

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Night time at The Bund: Huangpu River Sightseeing Cruises 1

Night time at The Bund: Huangpu River Sightseeing Cruises 2

The amazing view of Pudong skyline from across the Huangpu River at night. Marvelous!

A hectic cruises’ night. Beautiful, just beautiful.

From the side I was standing, I could distinguish between the very different east and west banks. The west bank is rife with skyscrapers and colorful lights. On the side of tall buildings, images were flashing about every minute or so. At one point, the image even transformed to say “I heart SH”. The east bank, however, is marked by western-style architecture such as the Peace Hotel and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. Both of these banks are truly different in character and style.

 Due to the limited time I had back there and the fact that I went there in a group (there are few things each of us want to do, but we don’t wish to separate), I did not get to experience the Sightseeing Cruises (Huangpu River cruises). Or Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. Both of them closed around 10pm, almost the same time as the light around The Bund turned off. A bit disappointed… but, hey! Perhaps this is just another excuse to come visit Shanghai again some times in the future, don’t you think? LOL right, sounds like a plan! 😀

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me with friends, enjoying the night at The Bund

*more info:

Bund Sightseeing Tunnel is currently connected Puxi Bund and Pudong Lujinzui two tourist areas and the most convenient combination of tourism and transport landscape tunnel. 360 degree fully transparent tunnel type cable car track, 6-channel High Definition audio with sound, light, electricity and other high-tech and fast-changing landscape composition, gave people a kind of immersive shock. Cost: 50 RMB.

Huangpu River Sightseeing Cruise is a must see for anyone visiting Shanghai. Best time to visit is after dark when all the buildings are lit up. There are many companies offering river cruises. They start around 100 RMB for a one hour tour (in June 2013) which is around US$16. But some might cost you about 250 RMB.

Regards,
Dea

It’s Shanghai: Chapter 3

20 Oct

It was me and this man.

Man : You are not from around here, are you?
Me    : Yep. Have you heard of Indonesia before?
Man : *nodding* My sister in law went to Bali last winter. It was beautiful place, she said.
Me    : *smiling* Alright.
Man : So, what do you think of Shanghai?
Me    : Haven’t seen much. I arrived here just yesterday. Will be staying only for another 1-2 weeks.
Man : Go to “The Bund”.
Me    : The Bund, huh?
.

A small greeting to a complete stranger lead to almost an hour of light yet interesting conversation. It turns out that this Chinese man who was born in a small village, northern part of China, has been living in Shanghai since he was 19 years old. Anyway, he did know about my short visit and the limited time I have for wandering around, also my limited choice of transportation; then he gave me a short explanation about where should I be visiting in Shanghai, what kind of food I must try, and what kind of things I can expect from Shanghai.

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The Bund area. These building located in one side of Huangpu River and show off a really great riverfront view’s concept.

Sooo… The Bund. That place became everyone-I-asked’s recommendation. So I think it worth a visit. well.. more likely I was pretty excited to go there haha It was a sunny day when I had a chance to visit this place. The Bund was a tourism place so there is a subway station that located near it and on a walking distance. You can take either Metro Line no 1, 2 & 8 at People Square’s or Metro Line no 2 & 10 at East Nanjing Road, depend on your location to start with. Don’t worry about get lost in the MRT because take the wrong line or get on to the wrong side of subway. I’ve done it before and believe me, it’s not that scary/bad. And as long as you have a subway map, you gonna be okay 😛

The Bund, also called the Zhongshan Road Yi Lu (East Zhongshan 1st Road), is a famous waterfront and regarded as the symbol of Shanghai for hundreds of years, showing both old and new Shanghai. It starts from the Baidu Bridge, which is at the connecting point of the Huangpu River and the Suzhou Creek, to the East Jinling Road and winds a 1500 meters (less than one mile) length. Walking along the Bund, which is at the west shore of the Huangpu River, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower can be seen on the opposite side and also the Jin Mao Tower.

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The view of the other side of Huangpu River which is give a sight of Shanghai skyline – or more likely to be the new look of Pudong District. The highest tower in the picture named Oriental Pearl Tower.

Being one of the Top Ten Shanghai Attractions, the Bund is a really beautiful and special place which is worth visiting. The newly-built Flood Control Bank takes the function of preventing the oversize flood; the square with the statue of Marshal Chen Yi is an open air podium which gives new views of the Shanghai Plaza Culture; the Cenotaph which stands on the man-made island is a monument of people’s heroes; the riverside greenbelt, the Electronic Waterfall Bell, and the Great Mural Carving are all representatives of the Bund.

The most famous and attractive sight which is at the west side of the Bund are the 52 various buildings of different architectural styles including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and the Renaissance. The Bund was the centre of Shanghai’s politics, economy and culture hundreds of years ago, consulates of most countries and many banks, businesses and newspaper offices were settled there, and that’s why Shanghai have these art-like buildings. Although they were not designed by the same person or built in the same period, the architectural pattern is similar. (Find more about each building descriptions in here and about its history, read it here)

Anyway, when I said that it was a sunny day, what I really mean is that it was the most sunny day I had back in Shanghai. Shanghai’s sky was not ever clear enough to allow me to see the sun. And I think it still is. Indeed, it was a busy day after all. By the time I reached my destination, it was already a lot of people there. They were tourists with their cameras and their tour guide, local people who seems to enjoy the view, some groups of young people who having chat with their friends, and etc. Needless to say, The Bund is not just a tourist’s attraction but it also a famous public space in where a lot of people – including the citizen – love to spend time on.

One famous public space for both tourists and the citizen.

Being the usual me, again I found myself talking to a stranger. Not a Chinese stranger, because he has Pakistan or Arabic face, well…kind of. And an Arab’s name as in Abdul Hakim. We soon fall deep into the conversation, even though it was kind of weird how we can understand what each other intend to say. Let me explain it this way… His mother language was neither English nor Chinese. He was born to speak with something that sounds like Arabic language. I know that because in the middle of our conversation, he excused himself to answer his ringing cell phone and seems fluent of speaking in a rapid (perhaps) Arabic. I learned that language once back in my elementary school’s year, but already forget it ever since I graduated.

We both tried to held most of the conversation in English, yet from the description above, he understand much less English than my understanding in Arabic. Yep, imagine it that way haha . However, we managed to talk about many things, for almost two hours which is amazing. Mostly he spoke of his family and his life in Shanghai. I must be a good listener to him that he freely spoke his personal problem also about his brother’s shocking condition. He talk about bad side of Chinese government and polices. About their attitude to the people of his kind. Also about how pricey they made him paid to them as he don’t want any harm come to his family.

No, I won’t give the detail here as he prefer to keep low profile, or let just say…anonymous (yep, I told him about the possibility of me writing it on a public website – or in this case was my blog). To sum it up, I might know what you probably be thinking after reading this. I found myself saying that it was one awful story. In that very moment, even I don’t see if there is any cell in my body that willing to live in this city anymore. But then again, he told me this..

“You know what, D? If only the situation was different and my brother was not in this kind of position, I don’t think I want to leave this place. I’ve been here since I was much younger and it was killing me inside that I would not be able to come back here again once I was in the plane heading back to my own country. I always love to spend the afternoon on a coffee shop in the French Concession near my place. Yeah.. it would be a perfect place to grow old. Haha now it sounds like a silly dream, right? I fell in comfort with this place in where I grown up yet they kicked me out of this country because of “those” matter. Money is not a problem for me, you know. If only they let me pay for these.. If only money can solve all this mess.. “
(He had this dreamy look in his eyes while speaking it and I can’t stop myself to feel sorry for him)
.

Overall, I was grateful to ever met and talked to him. Of course I didn’t absorb everything he said, as I always believe one’ story is their own opinions which is formed from their own point of view, unless I heard most people told me the same thing or I experience it first-handed then I perhaps believe it. But still, it nice to be aware of such thing in order to avoid it happen at any cost in the future.

Well, this event ended by him be a more cheerful version, even though not so cheerful one, but still.. He looks more relaxed which is a good thing. And guess what? I got an offer to join the dinner with him, his sister and his sister-in-law on a famous Pakistanis restaurant, not so far away. A tempting offer considering I was famished, but due to the lack of safe transportation I can rely on, I turn down the offer as polite as I can. A few minutes later, I said goodbye. We exchanged email address and separated our way. Honestly, I don’t know though, but I had this feeling that I will not have the chance to meet him again. But who am I to say such thing? haha May Allah bless him and his family, always.

Regards,
Dea

It’s Shanghai: Chapter 2

15 Oct

One different thing I learned about Shanghai is that it has different side of driver seat. Instead of having the right side of car driver seat, they are in the left side which is different with the one we have in Indonesia. The funny part is that I learn about it in one embarrassing way.

It was one morning that I decided to take a taxi because we need almost 30 minutes walking from my friend’s apartment to the nearest MRT station. After a few attempt of trying to explain the direction (with some helps from Chinese-daily-conversation-books that my close friend force me to bring and some brochures, of course) we finally had a deal with the Chinese man who offered to take us in a fair price.

Then he lead us to his car and open the middle-left door, then the front-left door. In that very moment, my assumption is that he was being a gentlemen and I accepted his kind gesture by decide to sitting in the front seat, while my friend seat in the back. And that was exactly when the moment of awkward situation happen.

The Chinese man frowned at me for some moment before saying something like “did you want to drive or what?” and kind of find my action amusing. I felt confused and scanned my surrounding and was like “what the..” when the realization hits me that I was sitting in the driver seat instead of the passenger seat like I thought I was. And believe me, it’s pretty much embarrassing. You know the feeling when you wish the earth suddenly open and swallow you the whole? Yup, that’s exactly what I was feeling. Well, next time if I had the chance to go to another country, to check on which side the driver seat is definitely on my to-do-list. Lesson number one, learned!

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Left-sided taxi driver and one embarrassing experience

I arrived in Shanghai two days earlier before my conference start, which mean I will have almost two days to do some sightseeing or explore the city or perhaps try a few local cuisines. Sounds like a plan. But honestly, by the time I found out about “Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center”, it becomes my top-place-to-visit list. For you who didn’t know, the place is a museum that show you how the city developed also its change from time to time, from decade to decade.

With a great expectation, I come all the way to that place, using the only reliable source which is a MRT station map that I picked from the airport, only to find that the place was closed on that day – Monday. Damn it. I don’t know on which one should I be angry at. Either of the museum’s decision to close on the only day I had a chance to visit or perhaps of myself for not checking the schedule of the museum itself before actually come to there. Whichever. I wont be able to check out the museum that day.

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See that screen saying “Close on Monday”, right?

At least, this experience teach me something important that is to do more preparation before going to somewhere, especially to find out on what day and what time it open, is a very necessary thing to do. Lesson number two, learned!

The effort I had to come again to this place is big enough to make me try my luck on the last free day I had before leaving Shanghai. It was open! Finally! Hahaha. Consist of five floors, this place is beyond amazing! You can see the whole Shanghai in one place! The whole city in much smaller scale, a miniature of many tourism places, of the airport, and many else! You can learn Shanghai’s histories since before the first skyscraper building was build until the day when Shanghai become one International metropolis city. Overall, in my own opinion, it’s even better than the one in Bangkok or even in Singapore. It’s one place that you cannot miss, especially for a planner-soon-to-be like me.

The Urban Exhibition took you on a ride through the years of Shanghai industrialization and development. Each gallery educated you on the progression of how the city became what it is today. Back in the 1980s, one could argue that Shanghai did not even have a skyline. If you look at a time lapse of construction projects over the past 30 years, the change is quite remarkable. In addition, in 1999, the Shanghai metro system was still in its infancy stages.  Having only a portion of one line (green line 2 today), the Shanghai metro could only take you from the east portion of Pudong to Puxi’s western airport in Honqiao. With a highly anticipated 2010 World Expo on the horizon, Shanghai infrastructure turned up its gear and began construction projects at an exponential rate, much greater than any city had done in the past. Within nearly a decade, the Shanghai metro system developed 9 more lines, which could take you to virtually every part of the city as well as the outer suburbs. Some experts claim that Shanghai grew so fast that its citizens could barely keep up.

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The Amazing Shanghai City Model

This model is perfectly to scale and depicts the entire city of Shanghai. Every ten minutes or so, the lights in the room would shut off and the model would light up, emulating Shanghai during the night time. This was amazing because it truly opens your eyes to how big the city is. It feels like you could live in Shanghai for a lifetime and still never experience so many other areas!

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The front desk of Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center

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Almost-two-story-height miniature of Shanghai famous places

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A 360 degrees animation of Shanghai city tour and a must seen. Simply awesome!

I like to buy and to use black t-shirt. Just like usual. It’s always the simplest, the comfortable way to walk around in a non formal way, like visit this museum. But there was mistake which I just realized when I went through the photos back home again, I used a black t-shirt with “Thailand” word on it. Geez. How come I don’t realize it any sooner? How come no one remind or ask me about that? and how come I even brought that t-shirt in the first place? Unbelievable. There goes another lesson to not bring any-other-countries-labeled when you decided to go to different country. Lesson number three, learned!

Anyway, I spent the rest of the day by walking around, looking for any interesting places and things to see, and by the end of the day, I learned a lot about Shanghai daily life also I started to memorize about the metro line. One good progress of the day 😀

When the exhaustion feels too much to bear, I decided to go home, well.. more likely to go back to my friend’s apartment lol. Yeah, in the previous post I said that my stay in Shanghai will be all covered by the organization, but that’s only happen during the conference. Because I came two days earlier, I had to stay in another place, in this case was my friend’s apartment. He is a professor in Fudan University and his main study concern is in black hole. An Italian lad who I usually called Daniel. Also the very guy who offered to cook for an Italian dinner that taste incredibly delicious. Thanks, Daniel! Thank you for everything 🙂

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A black-hole-professor of Fudan University and an Italian man, Daniel.

Regards,
Dea

It’s Shanghai: Chapter 1

9 Oct

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Travelling abroad is exciting yet scary. Especially when you go there all by your own for the first time. Just a warning for all of you beginning travelers, it is an addiction! Once you pop, the fun don’t stop! There’s always way to get by, money or no money. Sure the experience will be different but as long as you can save up enough to buy the ticket, there are cheap cheap places to go or places you can work and make much more than stay in your place with no experience what so ever. Well, I’m just saying. No offense.

 Another chapter of travelling. That is exactly what I did. Yes, this is perhaps not my first time on travelling abroad or going to another country. But never once did I have to plan all the things by myself. I always had someone to take care of every single thing and all I need to do is just make sure my suitcase is packed. Honestly, I was beyond scared, I was-sure as hell-terrifying. But instead of afraid on my lack abilities to handle such stuffs, I was more concern on the remaining time. Guess what? I have to be ready on less than three weeks!! Alright. Don’t panic.. don’t be panic dee.. just don’t.

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Shanghai, I’m coming!

Why Shanghai? Me of all people will never had dream to go there, well, more likely I never had thought of going to Shanghai in my mind before. Never once I type “Shanghai” or anything related to it on Google. The only Shanghai’s thing that ever cross my mind is when I watched one of Jackie Chen’s movie a loooong time ago.

Then again, there is this international conference which is inviting university students from more than 45 countries, offering a free accommodation (including hotel facilities, also delicious-free-food) and free transportation during our staying in Shanghai. So, there is me went all the way of “that-selection-process”, sent everything they need and…. voila! There I was..shocked to know that I passed the selection with 249 other people from more than 1500 applicants AND that I was soon will be in the middle of place I never even think about before, with only less than three weeks chance to do all the preparation. Happy? Not really. Ecstatic? DEFINITELY!

Needless to say, I was extremely busy the next two weeks. With almost every lecturers give us their assignments’ deadline, I still have to go to Jakarta to make Chinese visa by myself because my mom was unable to help me that time (at least my passport still available until next year which make me can’t be anymore happy), search for flight tickets, print and copy all the documents I might need, search for information about what to do and not to do while in Shanghai, packing and many other things. Then without me realize it, I will be leaving tomorrow.

The first thing that crossed in my mind since I landed safely in Pudong International Airport (Shanghai) is that this place is pretty BIG! Yep, I know it’s an International Airport, but.. you know.. since I arrived here was already late and I was panicked because I need to find the metro station in this damn airport so that I can catch up the last metro. It’s a very very very limited time that I had back there. With no one that could speak a proper English or even understand English a little, I got even more stressed. Come on.. come on.. I need miracle! I felt helpless yet I cannot give up, simply because I don’t want to spend my first night in Shanghai to sleep in the airport. It’s seriously not funny.

In that kind of condition, I did the only thing I usually do when I got lost. I start to follow random group of people. Big group of people with suitcases, of course. Just then I noticed something plastered on the floor. There were signs showing you which line of metro you should take with the destination on it. And just then, I started to throw a small laugh and relaxed a little. The moment of relieveness didn’t last long, I still need to hurry up looking for the metro.

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a yellow sign on the floor, my little miracle lol

Learning how the metro ticket machine works for the first time is quite a challenge and I did it anyway, with someone’s help LOL. Another help from a sweet couple who offer to tell me which station I need to stop become another welcome relief. Overall, the plan of writing a book entitled “Getting Lost in China: Pudong Airport for Life” was canceled. Hahaha already got lost since day one didn’t sounds so appealing, right? LOL.

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This sweet couple offered to let me know which station I need to stop 🙂

Regards,
Dea

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