German Christmas (Part 1) – Traveling from Nanjing to the Kaiserstuhl and Other Horror Stories


Kaiserstuhl jiangsu tripToday’s the day that I am meant to go to Germany; however, whether I will get there in the end is an entirely different question.

While Nanjing has direct flights to Frankfurt, Shanghai is a lot more affordable, and so the crazy travel route I am supposed to be on today is as follows:

– High-speed train from Nanjing South station to Shanghai Hongqiao Train Station
– Airport Bus from Hongqiao Airport to Pudong Int’l Airport
– Flight from Shanghai to Frankfurt
– Bus to Freiburg in the Black Forest
– Pick-up by my parents and taking train back to the little town they live in
– Walking up to their flat.

GRAND TOTAL: 30 hours on the road, the tracks or in the air.

It all started off with Nanjing South being suspiciously deserted. Instead of the throng of people waiting to pass through security, I simply stepped into the station and caught my train to Shanghai. That was easy.

Shanghai Hongqiao to Pudong Airport Bus – One Smooth Ride

The one thing I did not want to admit to myself is my bad Shanghai charma. Whenever I go there, everything goes wrong. Taxi lines are one hour long, metro ticket machines stop working the minute I step up to them and nine times out of ten I get completely lost; I, who prides herself on a great sense of direction and orientation skills. It’s as if Shanghai is just constantly showing me a slender, fashionably manicured middle finger (probably because I will tell anyone who will listen that I prefer Beijing).

As I knew that almost certainly something would not go smoothly, I booked my train to arrive 4.5 hours prior to my departure from the international airport. My boss gave me the exact instructions on where to find the airport bus, and indeed I managed to locate it without a problem; only to be told that it had just left 1 minute ago. I’m not making this up, it literally left at 7.30pm and I found myself staring up at the mocking red numbers on the display flashing 7.31 in my exasperated face.

So I had to wait for half an hour for the next bus. To make matters worse, the security guard already warned one of my fellow passengers that although the bus usually takes one hour there will almost certainly be loads of traffic and it will take longer. Suddenly my cosy three hours check-in time had shrunk to a less comfortable two hour window; if nothing else went wrong.

I hope for Shanghai’s sake it doesn’t or I will turn into a She-Hulk of unprecedented proportions. That would just be the right Christmas gift; missing my flight to Germany. Let’s hope Santa is in the area and I’m not on his naughty list.

As I get on the bus I see more mocking red numbers showing the time; just to rub it in. Great. So I will be spending the entire 1 plus traffic jam hours staring at these numbers. To add salt to the wound, the woman selling the tickets just announced that sometimes it might take 4 to 5 hours for the bus to arrive. Splendid.

I am wishing I hadn’t bought those items on Amazon now; I was getting too cocky in assuming I would actually make it to Germany. Damn you, Shanghai!

My dinner is a bottle of coke. I had some petty change left but deducting the money for the bus, petty change was exactly ¥8. Also, as I arrive at the airport bus stop there is only a vending machine with drinks, no food in sight. Coke it is, then. All the sugar is not helping my high-strung self calm down either. Time for some music.

I get sick writing or reading on buses, or doing anything involving screens of any kind. But if I don’t type I won’t stop staring at those red digits and convince myself I have the ability to control time and just make the clock stop (I’m sure it’s because I stopped time, not because the batteries died.)

So, the choice is chuck up or break under the pressure of the almighty clock that decides over life or death – of the countless mince pies my mum is baking in my honour. Sure, THEY would love me to miss my flight, so I won’t eat them.

I just looked up – big mistake – while we are currently still moving at slow speed, there is a sea of cars out there, that is just waiting to come to a complete still stand at any given time. Coke is now making my hands shake. The bus driver almost ran over another vehicle. I will have a heart attack. I’m sure of it now.

Shanghai brings out the worst in me. Like my paranoiac tendencies. I clearly remember placing my big, red suitcase in the compartment below. Yet, somehow I have managed to convince myself that I left it at the station. Or a thief with particularly low self-esteem walked by and decided to steal the old, non-brand, torn-up piece of junk. Yes, that’s what happened. Logically.

I am forcing myself to close my eyes and sit here listening to music. It is quite an effort, as the red little digits from hell are calling to me “Glance at us. We are all shiny and red.” NO! I shall resist!

Oh dear. Coke dinner is now making me want to pee. I knew there was something I didn’t consider with my fancy dinner option. Also, the fizziness is combining with the spicy chili oil I had during lunch to create a grumbling volcano in my stomach. Soiling your pants in public – now there’s a funny story. In China, such occurrences are always just a stone throw away.

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