Tag Archives: Shanghai

How to Get to the Shanghai Foreign Languages Book Store

I really dislike it when people tell me to just buy what I need off of Taobao or DangDang. Then again, I have been known to be a very stubborn and grumpy dude sometimes — and this is coming from a guy who, back in New Jersey, actually shouted at a bunch of kids and told them to get off my lawn. However, getting back to the my point, shopping and browsing a physical retail space can be enjoyable for some people. This is especially true when it comes to buying books. Perhaps I am a bit of a literature nerd. Okay. Fine. Point taken. Still, there is a sense of adventure when you walk into a store and you let a book unexpectedly find you.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of places to do that in Changzhou, currently. What you can find are mostly just educational texts in Xinhua Bookstore branch locations. Changzhou foreign folk have been told the top level of Banshan, downtown, will eventually have have big non-Chinese selection of texts. However, that still has not come to pass.  While this city is growing, there are still some things that you still have to go to Nanjing, Suzhou, or Shanghai if you do not want to use the Internet.

Books in English are definitely one of those commodities. Thus far, there is one particular bookstore in Shanghai that I have frequented. Sure, there might be others, but this one has become a habit for its wide selection and a relatively easy location. It’s in The Bund, and I often mix my Shanghai book buying with equally enjoyable culinary investigations that involve sandwiches.  Whatever your reason for a Shanghai day trip, Here is how to get the foreign languages book store.

Get from Changzhou to East Nanjing Road. 

There are two ways of going about this. It depends on which train station you are travelling from. If you are going to Shanghai via Changzhou North, you will end up at Hongqiao. Two subway lines reach East Nanjing Road from here. Trust me, Line 2 is the quickest. The trains from downtown Changzhou will take you to Shanghai’s central station. There, you will have to take Line 1 to People’s Square and switch to Line 2.

Find Exit #3 At East Nanjing’s Metro Station

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The bookstore is only like three blocks or so from East Nanjing Road, and there are many routes one could actually take. I am suggesting this one because it involves the least amount of turns. Plus, I hate walking on East Nanjing’s Pedestrian Street. There are too many swindlers, panhandlers, grifters, and pimps there that either want to sell me a watch or “a massage with extra romance!”

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Exit 3 takes you through part of the basement of Hongyi, which is a shopping center. Once you are up and out of the station, the pedestrian street will be on your right. A smaller street will be on your left. Walk down the street. Do not turn afterwards. Stay on this street.

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Find Fuzhou Road 福州路

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As I said, you should be walking a straight line. You haven’t turned. You should pass through any intersection with Hankou Road 汉口路 on your way to Fuzhou Road.

Turn Right and Find Your Destination

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Once you find Fuzhou Road, turn right. You will know when you are in the general vicinity. There are other book stores around here. One is dedicated to art and photography. Most of the stuff sold there is in Chinese with slick colorful pictures, but they do sell beautiful Taschen volumes. If you are into art, this is one of the biggest international art book publishers. If you see this particular establishment, you have actually passed the foreign languages book store, but not by far. Your target destination is pictured below.

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If All Else Fails, Show A Cab Driver This

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Pudong International Says Hi

For the past two weeks, I have largely been hanging out with my father. He went on an odyssey of sorts across China with stops in places like Xian, the Mekong River, Tibet, and more. That trip ended in Shanghai, and instead of heading back to the USA like other members of his tour group, he decided to hop on a train, see me, and stay in Changzhou. He wanted to hang out with his youngest son.

That ended up of being two weeks of laying low. I split my time between teaching duties and my dad. Since my father was traveled out and tired, I didn’t have it in me to drag him on any escapades into obscure corners of Changzhou. As a result, I haven’t been on any escapades into obscure corners of Changzhou lately. Sometimes quality family time involves eating not very exotic tuna fish sandwiches and discussing all of the science fiction movies you have seen recently. Some of the biggest adventures we had outside the Hohai University guest center involved trying the new hamburgers at OK Koala.

Eventually, that visit came to an end. A few days ago, my dad and I got onto a train to Shanghai. We did the whole Hongqiao to Maglev to Pudong International journey. We parted ways at the airport hotel. On my way back to the maglev, I noticed something curious.

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Pudong has an exhibit celebrating Changzhou. Its in the space filled with motorized walkways connecting the two terminals — the part of the airport where the maglev, subway, and buses are all located. It’s next to two other small exhibits celebrating other cities like Changshu. The display spells out some of the history and culture of Changzhou.

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For example, there is the obligatory mention of Qu Quibai, Zhang Tailei, and Yun Daiying — the three revolutionary heroes of Changzhou.

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Plus, there is a display of the things one could snack on while in the dragon city. Other informational displays detailed the history of handicrafts like wooden combs and more. As foreigner who has lived in Changzhou a few years, I found all of this strangely comforting. Shanghai can easily sell itself as an international, urban center with tons of things to see and business to conduct, yet here is a display promoting and sharing the spotlight with a much smaller city.

Pudong Security Changes

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If you are traveling from Changzhou to Shanghai Pudong International, new and extra security measures are in place. This came about because of an explosion that occurred at a ticket counter. Somebody lobbed a crudely constructed explosive, and four people became injured because of it.

In all honesty, this new security check didn’t take much time. I recently flew out of Pudong while on my way to New Jersey to see my family for about 13 days. When I went through this checkpoint, I had walked from the Maglev station to the terminal containing United Airline’s ticket counters. Once I reached the check point, I saw that they were wanding ten people at a time. This was to speed up the flow of travellers. By wanding, I mean security officiallys rub a piece of fabric over everybody’s luggage and bags. If an alarm is tripped, then they will more than likely check people within that group individually.

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How To Get To Pudong International

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Every summer and winter, expats in Changzhou often contemplate how to spend their holidays. Typically, Australians,  New Zealanders, and South Africans prefer going back in January and Febuary — those are the warmest months in the southern hemisphere. Most everybody else rushes to Pudong come June, July, and August. This makes for a commonly asked question. How do you get there? Here are the most common answers.

  1. Task a Chinese Friend to Pick You Up or Drop You Off

Just don’t do this if you can avoid it. Don’t. Driving from Changzhou to Shanghai by itself is time consuming, and that’s just to the city limits. And do not forget that gas and road tolls cost money. Metropolitan traffic jams are nothing new inside Shanghai. If you ask the same friend to do this for you all the time, you are taking advantage of them and wasting their time. They might end up resenting you for this.

2. Private Driver

Out of all options, this is the most expensive option. It’s also the most convenient. This can range anywhere between 700 to 1000+ RMB. If you are on a business or engineering salary, cost may not be an option and this may be a bargain for you.

Health is another reason. Getting from Changzhou to Shanghai’s international travel hub is time consuming and physically taxing. If you have, lets say, issue with your legs, the extra money for the convenience is actually worth it. At the beginning of every summer season, request for driver recommendations become common on Facebook and WeChat forums.

3. The Bus from Shanghai Central Station

Image care of Wikipedia
Image care of Wikipedia

Many people swear by this option as the ultimate convenience. You simple go to the main station, and the bus stop is on the far side of the plaza with the clock tower. The fare, last time I did this, was about 30 RMB. You simply stow your bags, get on the bus, and relax.

Personally, I do not like doing this. If you are worrying about your departure time, you have to calculate how often the bus leaves, and trust me, it wasn’t every half hour last time I tried. Also, the bus has to contend with Shanghai traffic. That can be congested on a summer day. Add rain, and it just gets worse. Maybe, though, it’s better for when you are returning to China, and you don’t have to worry about anything other than getting home.

4. Subway with Optional Maglev Ride

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

I am biased. This is my preferred method. It is easy to manage time, and that is saying a lot, since I am math stupid. It goes like this.

  • Take the high speed train from either the downtown or north Changzhou stations to Shanghai Hongqiao.
  • Go to the subway and get on Line 2. Before Hongqiao, there is only one stop. The subway car will not be crowded. There will, however, be a crowd of people trying to get on with you. There will be a mad dash for seats. Eventually, the crowd will thin out after many stops. You can stay on this line; it terminates at Pudong. However, if you get off at Longyang Station 龙杨战, you can transfer to the high speed Maglev. It’s 50 RMB, but it puts you into Pudong in just eight minutes.

The time calculation goes like this. Budget one hour to get to Shanghai Hongqiao via high speed train. Budget one more hour via subway and maglev. For me, it’s become the most consistently reliable. Sure, it’s not the most comfortabe way, but sometimes you do not know what delays you will face in Pudong itself. This method allows you a consistent “two hours” rule from a Changzhou train station to the airport.

Keep in mind that this is general advice. Each of these options could be broken down into more detailed “how to” explanations.