Shanghai Trip

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Shanghai’s Qi Bao Lao Jie

getting ready for a Chinese feast

I visited Shanghai this August for a two week vacation.  To give you a quick history about Shanghai, it has been around as a village since the Song Dynasty, a thousand years or so ago.   In 1842, China lost the First Opium War, and was open to trade as a treaty port along with four other Chinese cities.  Eight nations — Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Austria-Hungary, Japan, United States and the United Kingdom — were granted concessions in Shanghai, areas that they controlled and where Chinese law did not apply.   Hence, the cityscapes in the older parts of Shanghai were heavily influenced by Western architecture.  Most notably, The Bund, which has many British-style buildings.  French-style buildings can also be found in the former French Concession. 

Today, Shanghai is one of the largest and most developed cities in China.  You will see many people still walking on the streets hours past midnight.  I stayed in an area with primarily locals and few tourists so I got a good authentic look of the city.  My favorite things to do in Shanghai include getting cheap massages (2 hours for 75 Yuan or 12 dollars), cheap hair washing and a style blow dry (30 Yuan or 4 dollars), lots of good food, shows, and shopping!  I used to shop for myself, but this time I mostly shopped for Annabelle.  I brought so much educational resources back such as 60+ Chinese children books and 30 traditional Chinese paint brushes.  I also bought a talking pen that reads Chinese.  All you have to do is point the pen on a book and it will read the words in Mandarin! 

There are 23 million people living in Shanghai.  To give you an idea of how many that is, Los Angeles has 3.7 million people.  And some people say LA has too many people!  I don’t think traffic is as bad in Shanghai as it is in LA because not everyone drives.  Some people choose to drive in the city but personally I wouldn’t dare.  I don’t think you can go more than 10 miles an hours on the local streets because you share the streets with so many pedestrians and motorists on bikes, scooters or motorcycles.  I chose to use public transportation as most natives do by riding the subways and public buses during my trip.  The subways cost only 4 Yuan which is about 60 cents and it takes you all around the town.  The buses cost only 2 Yuan which is about 30 cents and covers the city even more extensively than the subways.   Sometimes, I also ride the taxis, but you have to be careful with these or you will be overcharaged.  There are couple of large taxi companies that you can trust, but I wouldn’t ride in all the taxis.  For example, on my way home from the China Expo building, a blue taxi wanted to charge me 80 yuan to go home when it should cost no more than 40 yuan. 

Most of the time, I took advantage of the busy streets by walking around as much as I could.  I easily walked at least 3 miles a day but most of the days even more.   This is a welcoming change from living in LA where I have to find opportunities to exercise but in China walking is a necessity.   Walking is also a great way to let me check out shops and stores on the streets.   My most memorable moments walking around were when I saw a man carrying live ducks tied by the legs hanging upside down on a stick for sale and a man holding a large live soft shell turtle for sale.  As I walked around, I also munched on many interesting local foods such as a whole lotus flower and small roasted birds. 

August normally is very hot and humid, but I lucked out this time because it was fairly cool.  Almost daily, I experienced furious summer thunderstorms that came and disappeared within a few minutes to couple of hours.  These storms kept the temperatures cool during my stay.   Thank goodness!!!  

Annabelle and her Chinese friend, Beibei, visited the Shanghai Circus.  This attraction is open year around so you can always visit it whenever you visit Shanghai.

Below are some pictures from Shanghai.  

Shanghai fruit stand




Annabelle loved this clothing mannequin!




Annabelle eating freshly made tang yuan

Is it a flash mob in Shanghai?  No, it’s women participating in their daily group dance exercises all in public! Anyone can join in!Anyone can join in? Annabelle attempts to join in the group dance… but gets distracted quickly Annabell goes to the China Pavilion built for the World Expo 2010

At the China Pavilion, we were amazed at the animated version of  Qīngmíng Shànghé Tú “清明上河圖” or Along the River During the Qingming Festival.  This is the most famous Chinese painting and has been called China’s “Mona Lisa.”  It was painted during the Song Dynasty by Zhang Zeduan.  The original painting is 5.28 meters long; there are 814 humans, 28 boats, 60 animals, 30 buildings, 20 vehicles, nine sedan chairs, and 170 trees drawn.  Inside the China Pavilion, the painting was remade into a 3D animated, viewer-interactive digital version, about 30 times the size of the original scroll. The computer animated mural, with moving characters and objects and portraying the scene in 4-minute day to night cycles.  Honestly, you can spend hours looking at the painting!  At night time, the entire painting gets dark and lanterns lit up in all the buildings in the painting. You can see it in the video here.  Learn more about this painting here.

This is the famous bridge scene from Qīngmíng Shànghé Tú “清明上河圖” .  I have always loved looking at the details of the painting and imagining what the people are doing.  It was truly an amazing experience to watch them come alive in the China Pavilion.

Song Qingming Scroll

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