I’m was staying with family in Shanghai a couple of years ago, and, having just turned nineteen, was desperately keen to go out. All my family is either under ten or over forty, and I didn’t know a single friend in Shanghai, so it was looking like a solo night out. I did some googling and jumped in a cab and asked the driver to take me to some club I’d found called ‘M2’.
It was a super-club type vibe, with an extravagant DJ booth blasting a combination of techno and house, filled with cashed up Chinese people and expats alike. The club was scattered with tables brimming with bottles of Grey Goose, Patron, Hendricks and various other rich people drinks, surrounded by tall, ornate brass jugs containing every type of mixer. Being an Australian college kid that survived on a diet of goon and orange cordial, I was impressed.
I bought myself a drink and sat down, lighting a cigarette. I was getting a fair few stares. Being a girl out alone in China is strange enough without the added fact I seemed to be the only person in the club under 25. A young, European-looking woman approached me and asked where I was from. Within minutes, we’d hit it off and she led me over to the table she was drinking at.
“Help yourself,” she said, pouring herself a Grey Goose and orange juice.
Trying my best to be cool and not pour myself a triple shot, I did the same. Within ten minutes of drinking with this crew though, I realised these were not the type of people to judge. By 1AM, the group at our table had thinned down to myself, the Finnish woman, a Chinese chick raised in Canada and an American guy. We were all absolutely tanked, working our way through the exorbitant number of bottles on the table.
We decided to go to another club, Hollywood, which was the most extravagant place I’ve ever seen. Everyone was so incredibly loaded I think I actually gained money even though I constantly had a surplus of drinks in hand. By this point in the night my memory sort of blends into one big haze of flashing lights, gilded mirrors in gold-plated bathrooms, expensive shots and pounding techno. I have a vague recollection of being in a Chinese man’s apartment with the group, catching taxis to various other clubs and feeling like the ultimate white-girl while drinking a blue slushy drink with an umbrella in it. And then I woke up.
I open my eyes, resisting the urge to spew.
Rolling onto my side, I found the Chinese-Canadian girl from the night before beside me. We appear to be in her bedroom, which is decorated with traditional Chinese flowers and ornaments.
“Uh, hey, where are we?” I ask, confused.
She explains that we’d decided to come back and crash here.
I definitely do not remember making that decision. Too ill to even attempt to try and extrapolate what happened, I get out of bed and gather my belongings. I thank her for letting me stay and head out the front to hail a cab.
To my absolute disbelief, I emerge from her house into what appears to be some kind of village. I see a man herding his goats along the road and a cow-drawn cart in the fifteen minutes I spend on the street trying to find a cab. How on earth did I get from the frantic central city of Shanghai to this dirt-roaded tumbleweed of a hole in one night? Eventually, I realise I’m never going to see a taxi and I call one.
After a long, painful wait, a cabbie pulls up and I jump in.
“Ni hao, shifu,” I say politely. “Honqiao Lu, please.”
The driver gives me a strange look. “That’s in Shanghai.”
Jesus Christ. Shanghai is HUGE. “Aren’t I in Shanghai?” I ask, getting pretty worried at this point.
The driver continues to look at me like I’m insane. I probably look it… A bedraggled Australian girl in rural China wearing a skintight minidress with a stupid fucking lion printed on the front and chunky leather heels, at 9am in the morning. On a Monday. I am now officially being judged.
Eventually, the cab driver agrees to take me to the nearest train station, North Jiading, which is apparently about 40 minutes away. We get there and I get my wallet out to pay.
Now I’m well and truly fucked and the driver is PISSED. I went out with 300 Yuan the night before and I know I barely bought any drinks. I have no idea where my cash went. He takes me back to where I came from and I shamefully knock on the girl’s door and ask to borrow 50 Yuan to pay the driver. We know we’ll never see each other again, but she doesn’t seem to mind loaning it to me. I work out later that it’s probably because I most likely spent my 300 Yuan getting us a cab back to her house in buttfuck nowhere.
The cab driver takes me back to the station, and the total fare comes to just over 50 Yuan. He rolls his eyes and accepts my insufficient funds and drives away before I’ve even finished my pathetic apology.
At this point, my hangover is reaching an insurmountably horrifying new high, and I still have no idea where I am. I swipe my transport card and I have just enough to get on the train. I look at the metro map, and to my absolute dismay I’m at the end of the line. I get on the train and sit down in a corner, urging every single fibre of my being not to let me throw up. I make consistently awkward eye contact with commuters who are clearly unimpressed. I sit and ponder if I’ll look more or less ratchet if I take my heels off.
After about an hour and twenty minutes of severe dehydration, judgment, borderline vomiting and further ensuing judgment, I arrive at the station nearest my auntie’s house. I get the lift up to her apartment on the fourth flour and ring the doorbell. My mum opens the door, and at that exact moment, my resistance finally cracks and I throw up all over the doormat.
Ah, Shanghai nights. All class until there’s none at all.