Sunday, November 18, 2007

China Odyssey, Day 4 - Shanghai

Day 4 Shanghai
Sunday Nov 18;
The Bund and Zhu Jai Jino

Shanghai is enormous! Shanghai people call New York City "The Small Apple". There are 18 million residents in Shanghai and I think each and every one has tried to sell us something.

This morning we woke early and walked up the street to McDonalds for a cup of coffee. American food concessions are very popular in Shanghai. We have seen many KFC's, MacDonald's, Taco Bells and Pizza Huts. Then we walked across the street to Renmin Park to observe morning exercises. Early in the morning it is common to see groups of Chinese (mostly older) doing group exercises called Tai Chi. There were also several badminton games in progress as well a one gentleman practicing martial arts with a sword.

A Familiar Touchstone

Familiar Menu, Strange Language

Morning Exercises in Renmin Park

Our first touring destination after breakfast was the Bund. The Bund is a section of old British colonial architecture. It is located along the shores of the Huang Pu River, which is a tributary of the Yangtze. A broad, paved walkway runs along the river, across the street from the colonial buildings. We found a statue of Chairman Mao along the Bund. We did not realize it at the time, but this turned out to be a rare occurrence. The only other Mao images we saw were at Tienanmen Square. It seems that Mao has become something of a non-person in China. We think this may be one manifestation of a national embarrassment over the insanity of the Cultural Revolution.

The Bund

Chairman Mao

On the opposite side of the river are massive modern high rises, one of which is said to be the 4th tallest building in the world. There is much commercial traffic along the wide low-lying river. There is a mix of freighters , barges and Chinese sampans. There appears to be no recreational boating, at least not of the style seen in the US. Our tour guide Scotty told us that sampan is a term created by the English to describe the local boats. Chinese do not use this term. Scotty is a combination of philosopher, comic and storyteller.

Huang Pu River and Modern Shanghai Skyline

Huang Pu River Traffic

Our second destination on Sunday was the river village of Zhu Jia Jiao. This Village is about 30 miles west of Shanghai center, but is still considered within the city limits. Located on the Cao Gang River, Zhu Jia Jiao is a labyrinth of canals. It is a tourist destination for Chinese travelers; there were very few non-Orientals there. There was a wide range of merchandise for sale, silks, woodcuttings, live animals and food that we did not recognize. There are a variety of craftsman living in the village, including the paper cutting champion of the world. His work was beautiful. And, of course, there is another famous Garden in Zhu Jia Jiao. After a boat ride on the canals, we went to lunch at a local Chinese restaurant located in the center of a market village.

Zhu Jai Jiao Water Village

Another Familiar Logo

Festive Lanterns Decorate the Zhu Jai Jiao Water Village

Another Garden Goddess

A very Pleasant Canal Boat Ride

Another Tasty Chinese Meal

Lunch was good but rather bland. Scotty told us southern Chinese like their food sweet, while northern Chinese like their food spicy. Shanghai is at the mouth of the Yangtze River, which traditionally is said to be the boundary between north and south. The Shanghai cuisine seems to favor the southern style.

Our ride back to the hotel seemed endless. The land around Shanghai is flat river delta with numerous waterways, punctuated with industrial buildings and residential zones. Building going on everywhere. There are many massive high rise condos. We passed by one huge condo skyscraper with a hole in the middle of the building. The hole has been left there to let the dragon fly through, for good luck. We also drove through the French quarter of Shanghai, which is very different from the rest of the city. French style mansions remain from the old French colonial days.

The Dragon Hole Brings Good Luck

Shanghai French Quarter
Seen Through a Bus Windshield

In Shanghai the young dress very fashionably and in a trendy manner, while the old dress in more traditional garb.

A blend of Dress Styles

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