After finishing our touring in Hangzhou, we drove back to Shanghai. I would have likely done the drive
back at night so that we used our touring time better, but that's the way the touring company set it up.
This is the great view from the Bund looking at the Oriental Pearl TV Tower .
I thought my buddy Chris Gorman would get a kick out of this since he was one of the first people I knew
who wanted a computer in his car.
Yup, this is for real. I'm not sure what prompts one to check into the department of intestines.
Are you looking to buy intestines? Are you having issues with them?
We had the afternoon off to wander and so we decided to check out a German beer house in Shanghai at
the Paulaner in Xintiandi. Here is Natalia enjoying some kind of fruity mojito and I'm having a beer.
We actually found a Japanese department store, which was like finding an oasis in the desert. It was
organized, had Western food (albeit ludicrously expensive), and had clean floors. We picked up more
Perrier and a Rogue beer as well as Natalia found gummi bears and Woolite to do her own laundry.
The Shanghai Museum
Allan had arranged to move our museum date to this morning from tomorrow aft so that we would have
more free time to roam so that's where we started our day. The Shanghai museum hasn't changed that
much from when I was first here. The pottery and coin areas were still the most impressive sections.
Here is some very beautiful furniture in the Museum.
A photo showing all of the Ethnic Minorities (one of Natalia's favourite terms).
These are all little Buddhas with one larger Buddha on it. I'm sure this is culturally significant, but
I just think it looks neat.
Natalia, outside the Shanghai Museum. Allan and I talked about how most Chinese don't have a 3rd (middle)
name any more and how common it is to have students with exactly the same name now. It seems quite ridiculous
to me to hear pinyin sounds for words that are surprisingly short have such a range of meanings. The short answer
is that the same word can have very different meanings depending on tone, but that's hard to infer without the
accents on the pinyin that no one uses.
Next, we walked through Nanjing road to see some of the shopping district of the city. We saw a lot of
people trying to sell us stuff and I was surprised to learn that locally in Shanghai, it's illegal to have
major knockoff brands in regular shops so now vendors try to show you a pamphlet and then get you into
their side street illegal shop. Too funny. This is Alan showing Natalia around.
Our next stop was the Jade Buddha temple, which on its own was a regular Buddhist temple with the two
halls and incense everywhere. I thought this bird was a nice carved sculpture.
What made this temple so spectacular were the two jade sculptured Buddhas from Burma that are 1000 years
old-ish that were brought here by a monk. Very cool and large white jade, which would be priceless.
The temple now also contains a much larger reclining Buddha made of marble (this one that Natalia is near),
donated from Singapore, and visitors may mistake this larger sculpture for the original, smaller piece.
The next stop was the Yuyuan gardens and old town, where we wandered around the old shopping district
and then went through the gardens themselves. Here are some goldfish (coi) rocking out in the pond.
Natalia, some lotus plants, a pond, and a nice-looking temple.
The old ginkgo trees and the rocks and lakes were the most impressive features here but the gardens
themselves are quite nice for sure. I left here determined to have a rock climbing actual wall in our
backyard at some point.
Natalia is pretending to be the carved dragon in the roof here.
How sweet would this be in our backyard??
We hit up a dumpling shop that had a 40 RMB minimum per person (including Allan) so it cost us $20 for
some dumplings and beer, but the dumplings were very good. Even when we went back at night, the dumpling
line-up downstairs was still very long.
Alan was showing us how to eat the dumplings. Surprisingly - you put them in sauce and eat them. Yummy!
Tianzefang shopping area
The Tianzefang old shopping area was quite neat and I enjoyed the small shops and mostly the photography
and the painting shops. I took a photo of this girl (with Natalia as a prop) to show that even in
China, there are hipsters.
This may have been Natalia's least favourite bathroom in Shanghai. She actually walked out without
using the facilities and then proceeded to rant about how terribly dirty the whole country is.
Before we went to China, my friend Erik went on a bit of a tirade about how I'd decided to 'design my
own baby' and that's what Natalia and I would do for a family (since I'm an engineer). Well, it turns
out that China IS the world's factory.
Acrobatic Show - Pujiangching - Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe. Our evening acrobat show was definitely
the highlight of this day though. The acrobats were very talented and had some mind boggling moves
and shows of strength.
I really enjoyed the Acrobat show. Find more about the troupe HERE .
This guy was unreal as he proceeded to take chairs and build up his tower even higher, while he was balanced
on it. I almost couldn't watch. Of course, you're not supposed to take photos, but everyone was.
Video of an acrobat juggling a pot with his feet
Video of an acrobat balancing a table
Video of the same acrobat spinning the table
The flexibility of these women was insane.
So, we were in our van with our driver and guide heading home from the acrobat show. As we're coming down
the alley from the show, a security guard hops in front of us and tells us to go to the right. We go out that
way, find a weird path under a building over a ramp, and then promptly drive down two huge steps and wreck the
undercarriage of the car as we drive into what's obviously a pedestrian area. After the driver got out (he couldn't
even open his door - he had to climb over our guide), he cursed a mean streak all the way back to the security
guard and hauled him back over to have a look at the car. He was fuming and by the time it was over, there were
5 other people along with our driver and the guard (including some random guy in a wife beater) arguing over who
owed who compensation. Unreal. That would have turned into fisticuffs and possibly shooting in the absence of
cops in the western world. 20 mins later and a promise to show back up the next day with insurance papers meant
we were on our way. No one wants cops around since it actually costs everyone more as they have to pay off the cops.
Zhujiajiao Water Village
We drove out to Zhujiajiao water village and wandered around in the heat. This village was established
over 1700 years ago. Here we see the rice wraps that the locals were selling. It smelled intensely awesome,
similar to the rice packs that get served at Dim Sum.
A human-powered boat moving people around.
Innovative use of broken glass and also recycling to keep out the pigeons.
Some of the canals of Zhujiajiao. I enjoyed this more than Venice.
We saw women selling fish for release in order to establish Taoist balance or something, but then
they will simply recatch the fish and start again. The same is true of turtles. Too funny. I'd say it's
better for their bank balance.
China exhibit at the World Expo
We were then dropped off at the Expo site just as the rains and wind were starting and by the time
we had walked to where Allan said the ticket office was, the rains were in full monsoon condition.
The ticket office was closed and we were in the middle of torrential downpour so we hunkered down
while the very violent thunder and lightning worked overhead and 30 mins later, we sorted out that
we had been dropped off at the wrong spot and walked back to the ticket office before going into the
China Pavilion. Check out item 8 in the list of things you can't do at the Exhibit.
The pavilion itself was a beautiful building, all done in red and in the shape of some manner of house
Inside the pavilion was an interesting display of Chinese views of themselves and how they see the future.
It's clear that they see themselves having made the leap to modernity in the last 30 years, even though large
portions of the population haven't come close to that. It was amusing to see how much of the other patrons
were clearly from smaller communities as the staring and gawking started again at this site.
It was kind of a surreal mix of Disneyland, Epcot Centre, and mass propaganda. This is a small ride taking
us around another display showing how amazing the Chinese civilization is.
We took the subway back over to Nanjing road and wandered there looking for a decent non-Chinese dinner
option, but after being told that we didn't pass their dress code at the Radisson New World, we went
back down the elevator and ate at Burger King.
Then, we walked through the lights of Nanjing and the Bund and eventually wound our way back to Yuyuan
area so that Natalia could have DQ ice cream. This is the only reason she's smiling here.
Natalia with some of the lights on the Bund.
Surprisingly, my Blackberry actually took better night photos.
Yes, even in China, I have to ride things. This is a turtle with a dragon head! That might be a first for me.
Throughout the trip, Natalia and I had an ongoing bet to see how many people we could spot on a single
regular-sized scooter. While this wasn't the winner (5 was actually), I thought the dog sitting on
this scooter was funny.
This sign, near our hotel, made me laugh. What great imagery!
Shanghai Propaganda Museum
Since today was our day to walk around on our own, we proceeded to walk about 2-3km to the propaganda
poster museum (Nate's suggestion), which turned out to be quite excellent. They had hundreds of vintage
posters up on the walls and many more in the back rooms. With both English and French explanations, I
easily spent an hour walking through here. There was a strong anti-American slant to just about all of
There was also a good amount of idolatry related to Mao.
I wound up buying a postcard of the one on the bottom right. I also like the American prying apart
China using Taiwan as his lever. See more about the museum HERE .
I think this one says, "I have the recipe to make Vegemite"
We had lunch at Oscar's pub, a Chinese attempt at a pub. It was right by the US consolate so I thought
it might have hope. With 5 beer on tap and reasonable priced non-Chinese lunches, I think this was a
winner. I had mushroom/bacon pasta and Natalia had chicken parm. They both came with salad and a Chinese
congee-like soup, but all-in-all (especially after 2 full-size pints), it was a stellar lunch.
We then took another Nate suggestion and tried to make our way to the go-kart track. While it wound up
being a solid distance from the subway (about a 40 min walk by the East China Normal Univ), we did find it
and Natalia got to try her first go-kart ever. She made a bad call of wearing a dress though and she wound
up concerned about flashing the go-kart people with her dress and so she really didn't enjoy it at all.
Maybe next time though.
An hour or so later and we were back to the hotel. In the spirit of not eating Chinese, we made a reservation
at the Indian place in the hotel (Tandoor) and then had one of the nicest meals (definitely the most expensive)
of our trip to date.