Monday 20 November 2017
One of Sylvia’s team was leaving today so I volunteered to go out and get a nice letter opening knife as a gift. I started the search at the local plaza, which, with seven floors of expensive shopping, drew a blank.
I wandered the local streets near the Jing’an Temple and still nothing. With the aid of Google-translate and a picture I asked a couple of security guards who told me to order one on line. Eventually, probably to get rid of me, they pointed down a street so off I went. I put souvenir shops into Google maps and one popped up only a few kms away. I always enjoy strolling the streets of big cities as a good way to get a feel for the place. Most of the streets have plane trees growing down each side, which leads to the employment of many people to sweep up the leaves with there efficient home made brooms.
There are lots of small shops and workshops across the city crammed with stock. People race around on three wheel motorbikes delivering goods of carrying their tools of trade.
As it turned out, the souvenir shop didn’t exist. Next I headed across town, where I remembered seeing a large area of shops on a previous visit here. Just now it is hairy crab season. I watched a guy pull them out of a bucket and tie them ready for sale.
Eventually some helpful people in a gift shop gave me directions to a shop they reckoned should have a letter knife, I had by now found a youtube video to assist with enquiries. With a piece of paper with the shop name and directions in Chinese for me to show people off I headed. Soon I was pounced on by one, then another, tout who wanted, in broken English, to take me to their shop. Having got rid of them I found the shop but no luck.
Then a young woman with really good English asked if she could help. She led me around several shops but still no luck. She then suggested a cup of coffee and lead me into a restaurant. I was buying lunch and what’s more they didn’t even have coffee!! Then the questions started. How long are you in town? Which hotel are you staying at? Can I add you on We Chat? Can I have your phone number? Can we hang out while you’re here? Lunch over, and having not answered any questions, I hit the footpath alone, heading back across town to what I thought was an ornamental sword shop I had found online. I found my way up to the sixth floor where this place was located to find it was a media place, which had written an article about a sword shop which was 17 kms away and closed in five minutes. A guy from the US that worked there directed me to an antique shop close by. It no longer existed. After 20kms of walking the day was almost over and no letter knife. In the end I did find a nice good luck bowl, which made a good present. I had also seen lots of interesting sites along the way.
Tuesday 21 November 2017
On the way to People’s Square and the Shanghai Museum I passed through a nice little park where a security guard was giving a couple of woman a serious dressing down for daring to walk their bikes through the park. At the exit to the park hundreds of rental bikes jammed up the footpath. There must be hundreds of thousands of these in Shanghai as everywhere I went there were bunches of them often blocking the footpath. Only very occasionally I did see one being ridden.
Pottery, art, furniture and coins were the main things on display over five floors of the museum, some items dating back 5,000 years. Some early coins were made in the shape of knives.
After the museum I strolled to the Bund, a nicely done area on the bank of the Huangpu River. Hundreds of little pot plants make up a hanging garden wall popular with tourists.
Dozens of barges make their way up the river loaded with various cargo. I followed the Bund up river to the end to discover it is being extended. There are also many new buildings going up in this area.
Passing the end of the works I was intrigued by a two-plus meter wall that runs alongside the river with large gates in it at varying intervals. These gates have rubber seals and stays to pull them in tight to prevent flooding when the river rises.
Continuing up river more bikes blocked the footpath at regular intervals.
One of the big dangers I have discovered here are electric motor bikes which silently speed out from buildings with no warning. They seem to have their own set of rules, which include running red lights and not diverting to avoid pedestrians on the footpaths or pedestrian crossings.e
A few kms up river I came across a walking-come-running track. This is a really well done place with various gardens along the way. Seating areas are set along the way on piers built out onto the river. A bored looking security guard stood every 200m; many workers tended the gardens and kept the place pristine. I walked the length of the track, which must have been close to 10kms.
Near the end of the track are lots of stairs and tent type stands, aparently built for the world expo in 2008 but not used since. There are some impressive bridges crossing the river. A large ship with some interesting antennas sticking up sits in dry dock.
The track ended at a gate that was locked so I had to backtrack then make my way across town back to the hotel.
Wednesday 22 November 2017
I started the day with a visit to the Jing’An Temple. Originating in 247AD, apart from being turned into a plastic factory during the cultural revolution, and back to a temple in 1983, it’s been a temple the rest of the time.
The main hall has a large sitting buddha and large round wooden columns holding up the roof. There are a number of worship halls in other parts of the building and a large statue stands in the courtyard, which people throw money up and into.
I took the number 2 train from the temple to the other side of the river where there are a bunch of the tallest buildings in town. I had seen the Oriental Pearl TV Tower quite a few times and was curious to see if it allowed the public up for a look. I was in luck, they did and what’s more it wasn’t too busy. Taking various lifts, eventually we reached the 359m capsule. The weather wasn’t very good and the windows were dirty but the experience was an enjoyable one. At about 250m there is a glass deck which is fun to walk around on.
Thursday 23 November 2017
I took the line seven train north about 18km to Gucun Park. Luckily it was quiet as by the look of the size of the entrance it caters for a lot of visitors. Even the ticket office has 20 windows.
I headed down the west end to a bird area. As I headed through the gate a lady in a hut yells out and rushes over to stop me. I show her my ticket; she shakes her head then leads me to another ticket office but there is no-one there. After an attempt with Google translate was going no where I took my wallet out and held it open. She took 20 locals and in I went. The area is well-manicured and maintained. A lot of the birds were in cages. I found a flamingo pond and was looking at what I thought were statues when one of them moved.
Opposite there was a parrot area the parrots were chained to the logs they sat on. The keeper was, I think, tied to her i-phone as she’d didn’t even look up.
I wandered through the rest of the park, which had a variety of landscapes.
Exiting the park on the east side I enjoyed a stroll back into town to meet up with Sylvia’s team for an activity. We were briefed up, divided into two groups and jumped in a taxi, our group heading to Tianzifang shopping centre, where we had to find a number of objects and photograph them with at least two of the team in the photo. We also had to complete some tasks, one of which was eating stinky tofu, which I hope I never have to eat again!
After that we headed to a restaurant. The traffic was so bad that we walked the last kilometre. On arrival the guy who had organised the challenge said we had all done very well. He departed and we tucked into a very nice traditional meal at a large round table.
Arriving back at the hotel a few of us retired to the bar for an entertaining evening – flaming B52s, burned lips and a few bottles of bubbles concluded and enjoyable evening.