So here I am. Haven’t got killed, lost, robbed, abducted or raped on the way. After about 24 hours spent in air-conditioned airports and airplanes I arrived in Shanghai coughing like a wanna-be victim of consumption, my pockets a cemetery of throat sweets wrappers. From there it was easy: 3 hours on a bus and a walk to the dorms. Yes, in my infinite wisdom I decided to actually walk there with all my gear… Needless to say, it turned out to be (or feel) a good bit longer than it seemed on the map. Still, it was a much more straightforward way of getting there than trying to figure out the buses (bus systems always being a bit confusing to me. Unfortunately Hangzhou still hasn’t any metro. Oh, they’re building it all right. They’ve even waved a passing hello to a few deadlines as they flashed by. The newest has been set for 2012. Erm, yeah, good luck with that. From what I know the latest development has been the caving down of one of the stations…)

Finally, with a sigh of relief, I stumbled into my dorm room. All alone, with just an occasional cockroach for company, I decided to head out and get some provisions. A portion of baozi and a roll of toilet paper later there remained one crucial purchase to be made. Mr. Muscle. Yes, this is how dingy the room felt.

The big surprise during all this shopping: the streets were empty! It was 8 pm, dark, and no life whatsoever. Where, pray, were those alleged 8 mln people? Where, I ask you, were the street food stands and cheap eateries? Where were the night markets with 3 pairs of knickers for 100 yuan, stinky tofu and piled up hamsters? Where were the omnipresent 7-11s (or a local equivalent), a whole institution in it’s own right, where you can pay your bills, purchase disposable underwear, a timely can of beer and a rice sandwich in every moment of night and day? What a disappointment.

Thus disheartened, I went back to my room, cleaned the crucial spaces and went to sleep, comforted by the knowledge that my VPN worked and that I could laugh at the Great Firewall of China, as proved by the successful log-on to facebook.