Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Shànghǎi Metro

10th – 14th April 2013.

The Shànghǎi Metro is very fast, modern, efficient and easy to follow.

The trains come into the stations behind a perspex wall, so you can’t get accidentally pushed onto the rails by the big crowds.  Along the wall are marked where the doors of the carriages will be, about every five metres.  When the trains stop, their doors exactly match the door markings on the walls. 

On the floor of the platform are arrows which indicate where the people will come out, and where people can line up, in single file, either side of each door.  Consequently, when a train arrives, there are a whole lot of neat lines of people waiting to get on.  However, when the doors open, there is quite a surge.  If you hesitate, the people behind just push you on.

Electronic boards tell you when the next train is due, in minutes and seconds.  We would have caught the Metro about ten times when we were there, and only once was a train not exactly on time.  It was a whole 30 seconds late.  The trains run very frequently – we never had to wait more than four minutes.

Tickets are plastic, recyclable and cheap, especially if you are a senior!

 IMG_6975In the stations, especially where you are changing lines, there are enormous crowds of people.  It’s quite easy to find your way, as the lines are numerically numbered, colour coded and clearly signed.  In the picture above, you can see the directions for Line 1 (red), Line 2 (green) and Line 8 (blue).

The underground stations are huge, often including mini shopping malls, and have multiple exits.  This was where we sometimes had a problem, taking an exit which finally emerged several blocks away from where we expected to be.  But that was all part of the fun.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Shànghǎi: Morning walk

14th April 2013.

Having a free day in Shànghǎi, we decided to go for a walk around our hotel, the Marriott Courtyard.



This area of Shànghǎi was either very new or about to be very new.  Somehow, a few older style houses have survived here, but I suspect they won’t be there much longer.

Our hotel was near a landscaped and floralised canal:





As it was spring, there were many beautiful flowering trees everywhere.



Drying space is at a premium in Shànghǎi, so this washing had been resourcefully hung in a public garden.



Many intersections had complete pedestrian overpasses which kept the traffic moving and the pedestrians safe.



We nicknamed this the Golden Bosom Hotel.


Pat and the main Shànghǎi Railway Station.  (I’m sure you can tell which is which.)



Butterfly garden, with the Golden Bosom Hotel in the background.  The butterfly needed a bit of a prune.



Pat in the butterfly garden, with the Golden Bosom Hotel in the background.


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Keeping two trucks off the street.


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Big flower pots down the middle of the street.  These were watered by one man on a push bike pulling a tank of water and another man beside him with a hose.  Everyone in Shànghǎi seemed to have a job, many of them quite menial, such as sweeping the streets with a straw broom.



Back in our hotel, looking out the window, where another skyscraper is being born.

Shànghǎi Circus World

13th April 2013.


Photo from http://images.wikia.com/degrassi/images/0/0e/China-shanghai-circus-world.jpg

We were very keen to see some Chinese acrobats while in Shànghǎi, as they are reputed to be among the world’s best, so we headed out to Shànghǎi Circus World.  The show we saw was called 'ERA Intersection of Time' as it combined traditional Chinese arts with modern technologies.  Aspects of traditional arts presented included:

1.  Sinan, an old Chinese invention for telling directions

2.  Soothsaying 

3.  Conjuring

4.  Fighting techniques

5.  Dance

6.  Chinese porcelain culture

Photography was not permitted during the show (regrettably but understandably) so here are a few photos I found on the internet that illustrate some aspects of the show we saw.


A young female gymnast performs at Shanghai Circus World in Shanghai, China.

The show began with this small pole emerging from the floor and a very strong girl performing graceful acrobatics supporting herself with one hand, as the pole gradually rose higher and higher.  Occasionally she switched hands, but never had two hands on the pole at the same time.  Amazing.  Photo from http://edythemcnamee.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/portrait03.jpg


More acrobatics:

Photo from http://deltaskymag.delta.com/getattachment/30c074fc-c455-4045-8187-df9abf56d23e/Jing-Qu-Contorti.aspx


Photo from http://img.timeoutshanghai.com/201104/20110422122355811_Medium.jpg


This man juggled a very heavy porcelain bowl, throwing it up in the air and catching it by one corner on his head.  Ouch!  Photo from http://www.mishanghai.org/Sites/files/640*512/file_168.jpg


This wheel rotated, faster and faster, while the acrobats leapt about on it, and there were no safety nets!  Picture from http://www.smartshanghai.com/flyer/era_intersection_of_time_shanghai.jpg


Gymnasts performed routines on regular trampolines, and then on narrow strips held by two (strong) people.  Every landing was a miracle.  Picture from http://withoutbaggage.com/msgs/74/74035/side_74067_cJY.jpg


A young couple performed a very romantic and skilful trapeze routine, seeming to use only a couple of scarves, often supporting each other’s weight by one hand only, or, as in this case, one neck.  Photo from http://cache.graphicslib.viator.com/graphicslib/media/86/forever-jpg-photo_5949574-260tall.jpg


Here they are again ….. Photo from http://images.quickblogcast.com/101364-94062/101.jpg


….. and again.   Photo from http://blog.asiahotels.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/shanghai-acrobatic-troupe.jpg 


How many motor bikes do you think could ride around inside this sphere at once?  Would you believe eight?  This includes riding upside down, no hands, intersecting at speed etc.  Exhausting to watch.  Photo from http://travel.mattmittelstadt.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/14-acrobats-motorbikes.jpg

This is only a small sample of this amazing show, a highlight of our visit to Shànghǎi. 

With Shànghǎi having a population greater than that of Australia, we were very surprised to meet Tatyana and Yuriy from our tour at the circus, particularly as most people from the tour were on an optional visit to another venue that night.  What a coincidence!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Shànghǎi: Yùyuán Bazaar

13th April 2013.


To reach the Yùyuán Gardens, you have to walk through the strategically positioned Yùyuán Bazaar.



This bazaar consists of traditional buildings converted and renovated into a modern tourist attraction.



The bustle and clamour of the bazaar is a typical Chinese contrast to the serenity and tranquillity of the garden right next door.











Ahwen told us that there are more than 400 Starbucks in Shànghǎi – they can even be found in “traditional” bazaars.  While the older generation meet each other in tea houses, the young people go to Starbucks. 

So do the tourists.



Loads that westerners would carry on a truck, the Chinese move by hand.  At least it keeps a lot of traffic off the roads.

Shànghǎi: Yùyuán Gardens

13th April 2013.

The Yùyuán Gardens were founded by the Pan family, rich Ming-dynasty officials, from 1559–77. 

The gardens have  been  been damaged during various wars over the centuries, but have now been repaired by the Shànghǎi government, opened to the public in 1961 and declared a national monument in 1982. 

We learnt that there are four main elements to classical Chinese garden design – plants and water (fairly easy to work out) and also rocks and pavilions (a bit harder to guess).  These elements create an idealized miniature landscape, which is meant to express the harmony that should exist between humankind and nature.

1. Plants


I suspect this tree hasn’t grown into this classical shape all by itself.


2. Water


The water often includes fish.


3. Rocks

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This garden was particularly big on rocks, which have criteria of their own:

“A centrepiece is the Exquisite Jade Rock, a porous 3.3-m, 5-ton boulder. Rumours about its origin include the story that it was meant for the Imperial Palace in Beijing, but was salvaged after the boat sank off Shanghai” (Wikipedia),


4.  Pavilions


This garden had lots.



A garden should not reveal everything at once.  The visitor should be drawn in to the next area by receiving a glimpse of it through a window, or a promise of something new around the next bend.

Each area in this garden is separated from the others by "dragon walls" with undulating grey tiled ridges, each terminating in a dragon's head.



The garden features the Bridge of Nine Turnings

When stepping onto the bridge, the visitor cannot see the other end.



Chinese gardens are made for reflection and escape from the outside world.  We certainly enjoyed a peaceful time in this garden before moving on to the  frenetic pace of the Yùyuán Bazaar outside.









Friday, April 26, 2013

Shànghǎi: Back to the Bund

13th April 2013.


The next stop on our Shànghǎi city tour with our group was to the Bund.  We had already been here a couple of times, so felt quite at home, but there is always plenty more to learn. 

Here are some of us learning more about the Bund from Ahwen.  We spent the next two weeks following that red flag around – Ahwen hoped we would follow like sheep rather than cats. 


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I wonder if I could do a wall like this at home….


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The Oriental Pearl TV Tower peeps coyly over the wall.


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On the Bund.



The building with the clock on top is the Customs House, which was completed in 1927.  The bell in the clock was modelled on Big Ben, and so is called Big Ching.  During the Cultural Revolution, Big Ching was replaced by loudspeakers that issued revolutionary
slogans and songs.

Next to the Customs House is the grandest building on the Bund, the
former Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank.  When the current building was constructed in 1923, it was the second-largest bank in the world
and reportedly ‘the finest building east of Suez’ (Lonely Planet).

While I was taking this picture, I had a whistle blown at me by a policeman, for standing on the strip of grass next to the wall.



“The 1911 Shànghǎi Club, the city’s best-known bastion of British snobbery, stood at No 2 on the Bund. Its most famous accoutrement was the bar, which, at 110 feet was said to be the world’s longest. Businessmen would sit here according to rank (no Chinese or
women were allowed in the club), with the taipans (company bosses) closest to the view of the Bund, sipping chilled champagne
and comparing fortunes. It is now the Waldorf Astoria Hotel which, incidentally, has just opened a new Long Bar” (Lonely Planet).

We didn’t go there.




The Bund Bull.

Designer Arturo Di Modica credits both Western and Chinese cultures as influences on the work. The bull is symbolic of perseverance, diligence and wealth in Chinese culture. The animal's confident stance represented a bullish and prosperous future for the rising financial centre, Di Modica said. "It must be strong. It's about a strong nation," he says. "If you observe the tail of the bull, the tail is spirally pointing to the sky, meaning a uplifting financial trend," he said.

The bronze bull is the same size as the Wall Street version, but "redder, younger and stronger" Di Modica said (Wikipedia).