DAY 36

Week 6

SHANGHAI (Shanghai, CHN) to XI'AN (Shaanxi, CHN)

Friday August 11th, 2017

TODAYS MILEAGE – 855 miles or 1,376 kilometres
TRIP MILEAGE – 33,957 miles or 54,649 kilometres

I found my local breakfast spot nice and early and for less than $5.00AUD I was fuelled up and ready for the new day.

The plan was to meet everyone back at the Shanghai Railway Mansion Hotel at 9AM for an update on Don and an overview of the days activities from our CEO (Chief Experience Officer) Lee.

The good news was that Don was feeling whole lot better and the medical professionals would be releasing him from hospital, after the completion of some more testing around lunchtime.

Lee gave the group some suggestions of activities for the day, but as she had to update her management team and go and collect Don, would not be able to conduct the daily orientation walk. She did ask for us to meet back again around 3PM to check out of the hotel in preparation for the overnight train journey to Xi'an. I took a moment to mention that due to my experience with "Lost Plate" in Beijing, I was booking the Xi'an Evening Food Tour for tomorrow night, to which they all enthusiastically agreed to join in.

I decided to head off without my camera rig, with the simple aim of enjoying the city without feeling the need to see it through a viewfinder. As luck would have it, I met up with Rob for a late lunch and we both went over and spent a couple of hours exploring the electronics market which completely filled a huge 7 storey building opposite the railway station.

We got back to the hotel a little early and ran into Lee who gave us an update on Don. He was released from hospital, but refused further testing based on out of pocket costs and was wanting to continue on the trip with us. It was clear to see that Lee was in a quandary with Don's decision and asked both Rob and my opinions. Rob had a similar mindset to me, in that if Don was cleared medically to go, then we're OK with it. The question I put to Lee was "Did Don have a medical clearance, from the hospital or doctors, to continue?" Lee responded that "he did not and nor would they give him one until he had completed the full range of testing, that they required in making that determination".

It was at this point that Lee asked if I would speak to her manager and explain the situation from our perspective. I spent 15 minutes on the phone and was somewhat in disbelief that the manager was even contemplating letting Don continue without medical clearance. I said that as manager, he alone has the responsibility and duty of care to not only Don, but also the rest of the group in this matter, as none of us want the possible death of a person on our consciences. We came on the trip to explore, to experience, to participate and not to be pall bearers. I told him to piss or get off the pot, as part of the mandated trip conditions was that we all had to have full comprehensive travel insurance - he needs to invoke that clause. Don needs to prepare to leave the trip and head home from Shanghai, rather than from the back blocks of rural China, which may or may not have the facilities or expertise to deal with him collapsing or worse.

I handed the phone back to Lee, who spoke to her manager for another 10 minutes before she headed over to me. She asked if I could help her gather the required documentation from Don, in contacting his insurance company, to have him returned to his home in Minnesota. Lee and I spoke to Don alone and after some initial pushback, he relented to Lee's managers decision and our reasoning to let me contact his insurance company and initiate a claim to hopefully get him home and under the medical care he needs and is obviously more comfortable with.

Around 5PM, we all bid Don farewell and left him in the hands of Lee's manager before heading across the road to the railway station for our 18-hour overnight sleeper train to Xi'an. As I was not sure what amenities there'd be on the train, I armed myself with a small shopping bag with fruit, nuts, minute noodles and two rolls of "poo tickets" just in case.

You hear all kinds of public transport horror stories, but the journey was quite pleasant in all reality. My clean but sparsely furnished cabin had 4 separate bunks, which I'd be sharing with a couple of parents that looked around my age and their son of around 20. Through broken English, hand gestures and a smattering of charades, we got on like a house on fire. They were as interested in me and Australia as much as I was interested in them and their homeland - I thought to myself that experiences like this is what travel is all about.

• ZHABEI ~ Exploring The City (Shanghai, CHN)

Day 6 - Shanghai/Xi'an
Enjoy free time in Shangahi before boarding an overnight train to Xi'an.
Temples, markets, gardens and colonial enclaves are around every corner. Spend some time exploring the Yuyuan Gardens or the old alleyways.
Experience the 18 hour overnight Shanghai - Xi'an train travel like a local. Sit back and get some well-earned (and likely much-needed) rest en-route to your next stop.