Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Day Nine: Shanghai: Written by Bryce

Day Nine: Shanghai: Written by Bryce

I miss the caged songbirds kept in the trees back in Xian.  They had such a beautiful melody.  Shanghai has a very different song of its own. We are so blessed to end up on The Bund, across from the old Russian Embassy, for our stay here.  This is the old, very European, part of Shanghai that is on the Huangpo River and across from the Oriental Pearl, and all the financial towers of the city.  The Broadway Mansion Hotel, and the Embassy and the Astor and Roosevelt, were here for over a century, in some cases.  It really does provide a dramatic difference to the Shanghai of today.  The Bund was and is what kept a number of western countries interested in this country.  It is the Wall St. of China, and looks a lot like New York with its Doric columns and piles of Greek and Roman statues on all the buildings.  
Our hotel was used to spot the Japanese army movements during the occupation and then it was taken over by the Japanese High Command during the war.  Bellboys in little round hats and elevator operators take you to your room, complete with doorbells, and are just a part of the Broadway Mansions ambience.  It is loved by all, and a focal point for oh so many wedding couples taking their pictures.  They absolutely stop traffic to do their posing right out in the middle of the busy street.  Everything moving on the roads either stops or moves around while these beautiful young couples with their entourages take scads of photos.

Shanghai is one of the most beautiful and interesting places I have ever been to in my life; very orderly and welcoming.  We went for a ride in a tube that runs under the river to the business section of Shanghai.  The tunnel has been set up to resemble a neon psychedelic trippy ride thru the center of the earth.  I was immediately reminded of what we kids said ” if you dig deep enough you would come out in China".  I laughed at the time, and just enjoyed the journey. We made it over to the convention center on the other side, where the new Shanghai of one high skyscrapers has sprung up virtually overnight.  This is the area that we see from our side of the Bund, it is beautifully lit up at night!
There are lots of big BMWs and Mercedes, even a few Rolls Royces in today's China.  Things have changed a lot from the days of everyone getting around on bicycles. This place was the seat of where it all started with Mao and his mob, back in the 40s and I figure that Chaing Kai Shek liked it here too. The weather here is great year round and it has such a nice feel to it.  I figure once they closed all the Opium Dens and packed off all the Dope Fiends to reeducation centres, everything started to close in on the White Devils too.  That's what they used to call us.  I like the term " round eye" to " white devil" , but I'm never asked my opinion on preference. Thank goodness, the locals just stare at us and don’t call us any names in these modern times!

The food is oh so good here.  We absolutely could not get good Internet here, and sought out a cyber cafe to do some stuff.  The hot chocolate was blas√© and the “American” food was terrible, so we have just switched over to the local dishes for all our gourmand needs.  Arly has a picture of me scoffing down a chicken’s foot in our dining palace, and we found a spot last night with a barrel of fish at the door and a cooking area on the table top for our evening repast. They call this hotpot, and it is a local favourite. Hot and spicy is the name of the game here.  Lots of Sechuan food and wonderful bakeries.  I really enjoyed some little sesame covered dough balls that where a cross between salty bubblegum and strawberry plum jam.  Yum!!!

Anyway, many places to go and people to see!  We are off to see the city and snap a few pix.  One last memorable day and night in Shanghai, til next time.  Bryce

Bryce with bellman at the hotel

Psychadelic tunnel under the river

Bryce with chicken foot

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