Monday, January 07, 2008

Shanghai, China

The last city on my China trip. Don't worry no more stories about dog meat. And FYI, I didn't eat any.

Shanghai has the whole international feel to it. The Pudong skyline towers above the Yangtze river, shiny and new. The Bund provides a stark contrast to the chicken farms that dotted the side of the highway in Guilin. Suddenly fashion changes from functional to, well... Tokyo. Not as over the top, but much more variety. It was pretty cold in China, so men and women both donned themselves in utilitarian coats. In Tokyo, no matter how cold, girls still show leg and sports high heel boots, and guys still wear 15 pounds of jewelry with skin tight distressed jeans. Shanghai wasn't that wild, but none the less you could tell people cared more about how they appeared. I even found a UNIQLO!

I don't have much to say about Shanghai. Seems like a good place to live. The subway is efficient and only costs about 40 cents to ride. There are western style cafes and huge shopping malls. Some great museums too.

These shots are from the Shanghai Museum. Akin to the National Museum in Tokyo, it was a crash course in Chinese craft and art history. Spectacular.

Also on the agenda was some Chinese acrobats.

Ancient kung-fu style - spinning plates and walking on heads. The plates could be used as weapons against invading mongrels.

Juggling hats. It gets very cold, so people often have to wear more than one hat. Juggling them is just the next logical step.

Super hula hooping. Girl looked like a human slinky.

The mystical art of twirling a red thing on your foot.

The obligatory jumping through hoops.

This wasn't in the show. It's a typical Chinese school bus taking children to learn their three Rs.

It's the hula hoop girl. She rode the motorcycle in a giant sphere with 4 other people on bikes. A very ancient and time honored Chinese acrobatic technique. Hmmm... when I think of "Chinese acrobats" I think of kung-fu and cartwheels. But this was still cool. Except the music was whack. They played the theme from Titanic at one point.

Woke up on the 29th to take my flight home. No ferry you ask? Turns out a last minute flight was cheaper than the ferry - shinkansen trip I had planned. And a 3 hour flight kind of beats the 3 day journey. Plus, this means I get to ride the Maglev! The Maglev is a train that floats on magnets. This means no friction from wheels, which means super high speeds. The Shanghai Maglev cost over a billion dollars US to build, and with current ticket price and maintenance fees it will never recoup the money spent. Oh well.. it was fun to ride.

It took 7 minutes to travel the 30km to the airport. My dad scored some passes to the business lounge, so I spent the next 2 hours eating cake and drinking Asahi Super Dry. What's that? No vomit aftertaste like my acquaintance Tsing Tao beer? And thus ends my adventure to China. I'd like to go back someday, and explore some off the beaten path type stuff. I've got a year on my China visa, so it could well be an option.

Next: I'll write about food and shopping in China. More like rant about shopping and rave about food. Cheers and jeers here people.

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