Shanghaiist’s worst travel experience ever was on a 15-hour “sleeper bus” (ha!) from southern Shandong Province back to Shanghai. Packed to the rafters, Arctic January temperatures, layers of ice on broken windows, an ancient, festering interior dotted with rusty metal benches and the occasional sodden blanket (actual interior, pictured), black smoke chundering out of the engine console inside the vehicle, a desperate need to urinate for the second half of the trip and a Soup Nazi of a driver who couldn’t even be bribed to stop. To make matters worse, we joyously spied the night lights of the Oriental Pearl Tower in the disorientating haze of bladder pain and thought the horror was over, only to discover it was a miniature of the Pearl Tower located about 200 kilometres northwest of the city and we still had a four-hour crawl left to go.
Then, in a final indignity, we were dumped on a street corner — our luggage kicked off unceremoniously — somewhere in Baoshan District, because the driver was due at a mahjong table and couldn’t be bothered taking us to the scheduled terminus.
Next time this happens, we’ll be more forceful in our demands to be dropped off at a station. Not only that, we’ll demand to be taken to the Shanghai Long Distance Bus Station, the largest of its kind in Asia, which began operations on the weekend.
The RMB 700-million station, northwest of the Shanghai Railway Station in Zhabei District, will apparently be capable of dispatching 1,500 buses and transporting about 30,000 passengers a day. Shanghai formerly had more than 40 long-distance bus stations, located in various corners of the city. Most of the existing lines to these smaller facilities will now be transferred to the “Super Station” in Zhabei. Some 1,200 families and 44 companies were relocated to make way for construction of the 30,000-square-metre station.
All of which is variously interesting, but how are the toilets? We may be needing them when we get there.
Note: “(Are You Ready) Do The Bus Stop” is the title of a 1970s funk classic by The Fatback Band and an associated dance craze of the same name. The Bus Stop is said to have contributed to the development of Line Dancing which, like the interior of an overnight bus from Shandong to Shanghai, we hope we never see again.