I have to admit to being not very well travelled when it comes to China. I have lived in SAR for nearly ten years now but have been some how magnetically repelled from the mainland because of the horror stories I hear on a daily basis about:-
- dirty toilets
- dirty air
- dirty streets
- dirty trains
Then there is the danger angle people like to thrap on about:-
- risk of earthquake
- risk of flood
Not to mention the general physical risks of:-
- being robbed
- being in a car accident
- being swindled
Taking my life in my hands I visited Shanghai, China's most populous city to find it was none of those things and whats more I had a great time and came back all in one piece. I enjoyed it, I felt safe and I would go back.
There is lots of art to see and the first stop was Shanghai Museum of Art situated next to the People's Park. At the moment there is an exhibition of American Print Makers and we saw famous pieces by Jasper John's and Jim Dine. After that we headed for 50 Moganshan Road which is a higgledy piggledy complex of converted warehouses filled with a vast variety of contemporary art. Hundreds of visitors are attracted to this area every day and as well as the art there are trendy cafes and coffee to be had. There is also the Museum of Modern Art, a state of the art glass building inside the People's Park but at the moment it just has a cafe inside - no art.
Pervert taking photograph of young girl's legs
THE PEOPLE'S PARK
The People's Park itself is a myriad of life. A well looked after garden plus a few small theme park rides, it attracts a variety of people. Sit on the grass and enjoy your picnic. Practise tai chi to your hearts content. Dress up in a panda outfit and thrill the children. Advertise your unmarried grown up children being available for marriage (there was loads of that). Play chess. Beg. Stop bewildered tourists and ask them questions to practise your English then offer to take them to a tea ceremony (we had that lots of times). All very friendly and non threatening. I was even protected from a particularly annoying beggar in the park by some Shanghai people who felt the need to keep me safe and send her on her way. They then translated what they had said for me which was basically 'get a job and stop bothering the tourist's!
WANTED - GROOM FOR MY DAUGHTER
Upon arrival on Nanjing Road pedestrian street the hawkers selling copy everythingyoucanthinkof pounced but being used to it on Nathan Road the usual technique of eyes front and ignore was implemented. Although I wasn't quite ready for the wheelie shoe sellers who zipped about on a type of roller skate wheel that can be attached to any shoe. They obviously felt that I was in the market for wheelie shoes but I politely declined, at first, after the 8th person zipping up to me on their trendy wheels I had had enough. That's when Fairy Land Foot Massage lit its beacon and led me up their wonderful staircase to wonderfulness. See previous blog.
In the evening, after one of the most delicious and interesting meals of my life at Lost Heaven. See previous blog.
We did The Bund. The most famous area by the river lined with magnificent historic stone built structures dating back to a time when the west had a strong influence on the city. On The Bund side of the river are the neo classical and art deco style buildings while across the river are the futuristic modern buildings all lit up and pretty. Having said that it was Earth Hour when we arrived which meant that most of the lights had been switched off for an hour so the impact of them all coming on again at 9.30pm was thrilling, albeit not environmentally that friendly!
JAZZ IN SHANGHAI
On The Bund is the Peace Hotel which contains a very cool jazz club. We look our positions on high stools at the bar and enjoyed the band. Wow! Excellent live music. I didn't enjoy the cigarette smoke quite so much and it was a surprise to be in a bar full of smoke these days. There is talk that China will ban smoking in public places very soon. Let's wait to see how it goes? A bit more jazz after the Peace Hotel involved a taxi ride to JZ Jazz Bar, 46 Fuxing Road, near Yongfu Road which was, again filled with smoke, and a zillion more people. It is Shanghai's hippest jazz club. After a difficult attempt at trying to get close to the stage and being told we had to pay 500 RMB for the privilege, we moved back to the free seating and let the jazz wash over us. Yeh daddio!
OLD SHANGHAI AND YU GARDENS
Next morning more exploring was on the itineray and a visit to Yu Gardens and Old Shanghai. It was crowed. Very crowded. But very exciting and filled with atmosphere and tourists being lead around by ladies in red caps and the dreaded electric megaphone. Oh dear! The buildings and temples were stunning and food stalls overwhelming. We made our way out of the more crowded tourist shuffle area down some back streets where the real people lived and enjoyed a lunch which was cooked for us as we watched. There were ceramic dishes already prepared with the ingredients, vegetables, fish or meat or just a veggie options with noodles or rice. Once you choose your dish it was placed over a gas flame until it bubbled and cooked everything. I think it was the original Pot Noodle.
So I wasn't in any danger as far as I know and I now know the horror stories are just that - stories. There was even a Marks & Spencers with a sale on with a great coat just wating for me!
MORE PHOTOS WILL BE POSTED SHORTLY