Cash and I ended up going to a massage parlor last night after dinner. One of our other roommates recommended this place that wasn't too unreasonably far and had really decent prices. Plus he told us exactly how to get there so it was really easy to find. It was a simple oriental style place and was rather nice. When we walked in we were told to go upstairs and shown into a room with 3 massage tables. One of them was already occupied so we quietly entered so we wouldn't disturb the other person there. It was my first time in a room with several tables so that was a little strange since I wasn't sure what to do. We were looking around and noticed that the other patient had removed his shirt and pants. Cash and I stared at each other in confusion. We stayed fully clothed since it wasn't an oil massage. They did the massage with some pressure points added in so that was interesting if not somewhat painful (at first). After lugging my backpack around for the past 2 weeks it felt really nice to loosen the knots in my shoulders and back. The massage itself was a little harder than what I'm used to so that was a little uncomfortable at first but it was otherwise really nice. It costs 65 yuan for an hour full body massage which is incredibly cheap! Don't worry Sean, you haven't been replaced!
After the massage Cash wanted to get some money exchanged and since there weren't any banks open any more we went off in search of a hotel that would do it for us. He finally got it done in a bar if we agreed to buy a drink. We got an orange juice and some pistachios before we went out once again. When we finished our juice we weren't completely done the pistachios so we each grabbed half of them and chucked them into our pockets before we left. We then decided to go and try to take some pictures of the city at night. Since we were close to the Jing'An Temple we took some shots of that and the surrounding area for a bit before going to a coffee shop for a drink and a snack. I bought a mango smoothie (with real pieces of mango in it) and a dessert which I thought was some fruits with some custard/yogurt stuff at the bottom. It turned out to being whipped cream. It got really sweet really fast but it was good. Since I didn't have the proper lens equipped I asked Cash if he could take a picture for me since it was so nicely arranged. We went back to the hostel shortly after since we were getting rather tired. It wasn't until I was getting ready for bed did I realize that I still had the huge pile of pistachios hidden away in my pocket. I had intended to eat them as we were walking and taking pictures of the temple.
I woke up fairly early to grab some breakfast before I started to pack my things to go to the train station to get to Martha's house. I had breakfast with Cash and some of his friends that he had met on the train from Hong Kong a few days before. These guys were from San Diego, Chili and were traveling the world together. They were on month 4 of 12 and they were hot and funny. I'm really beginning to think that I'll need to do a major trip like that some day. Then again the idea of doing a trip of that size has been running through my mind since I backpacked Europe. Going around the world in 12-14 months would be amazing! Every one I meet seems to be doing these awesome trips. It was a little upsetting to have to say goodbye to Cash and the other guys whose names I didn't catch. I really wish I had gotten a chance to know these guys a little better. They were awesome. Cash and I promised to keep in touch since we've added each other to facebook. We wished each other safe travels and went our separate ways. His primary stop was to retrieve his wallet at the museum.
I decided not to go to the photography thing since I had no idea how long it was or where it was exactly and I wanted to get back to Martha's house. Cash promised to tell me how it was and I hope I won't regret not going to it. I took the metro to get to the train station since it was only 3 stops away without having to switch lines. That was very easy and strait forward. When I got to the train station I had to weave my way through the underground shopping mall and make my way to the ticket booth. I bought my ticket at an automated teller (since I couldn't find one with a person) which was a little confusing. I got myself a coach ticket and after getting onto the train I kind of wished I had spent the extra 10 yuan for business class. I would have had more room. It took me a few minutes to find out where I had to go to get into the train station only to find out that I was at the wrong station! I wanted the South station at the other end of the city not the Northern one. I thought my train was supposed to leave at 1.30 in the afternoon so I jumped into a cab in a slight panic at having to cross the city in 30 minutes and went towards the other station since it would be a lot simpler than figuring out the metro to get there. In retrospect the metro would have been a lot cheaper and probably just as fast although there was a high possibility that I'd have to stand for the entire trip with my backpack on. That wasn't a very attractive prospect. When I finally got to the train station I found out that my train was delayed until 3.35 in the afternoon which left me hungry, thirsty and bored in the waiting lounge (I eventually found some food and drink once I boarded the train). They haven't said why it was delayed but I was a little relieved to be able to relax a little before catching my train because the security here to enter a train station is like going to the airport. You have to get all of your bags scanned and you have to walk through a metal detector (the bag scanning is actually quite common in all of the metros as well since you aren't allowed to bring certain things onto the metro with you) .
The train station in Shanghai is much like an airport. There's cafes, restaurants, shops, different sectors which resemble terminals, and the construction of the building itself resembles an airport. It's really cool to see. I wanted to take some pictures but the security told me that wasn’t allowed. I'm not 100% sure why but I suspect it has something to do with the fear of me wanting to plot some form of terrorism attack by studying the layout of the station. I did however sneak in a shot or two of the roof as I was walking down towards the center of the station to get to the platform since it looked that awesome.
As I was waiting in the train station's lounge for my train to Martha's house I noticed a bunch of interesting characters. There was this one guy in particular that really astounded me. He had 2 huge suitcases (one had a rolled bamboo mat attached to it) on strings hanging over his shoulder by a large wooden stick much like you'd see in a movie of feudal Japan/China/Europe with buckets of water. It was really cool to see. I didn't get a shot of it because my compact camera was safely tucked away for the train ride. By the time I didn't manage to bring it out the man was gone and security was staring at me strangely again. You'd think I'd learn to keep my compact within an easy grasping distance wherever I go since this has happened to be several times before both in China and back at home. I might learn some day.
While waiting on the train for it to leave and the compartment was getting more crowded I realized that most people in my section all knew each other. Some of the guys had figured out how to switch the seats around entirely so they could face each other during the ride! I turned around to see the seat half way into the aisle while the guys were working hard on finishing the job. They've pulled out some cards and are pretty much settled in for the ride. They have this neat little set up with their briefcases (which they're using as a table) I guess they'll be going to Changsha (the end of the line, I think it's a total of 8-9 hours of a train ride. I'm so glad I'm only going to be on here for a very tiny portion of that.
I've also safely arrived at Martha's house. I shall be here until Monday. I'm planning on going to Suzhou to see some more pretty gardens during the week.