Shanghai

March 9, 2010 - Shanghai, China

 

Ni Hao

Shanghai then? Where does one begin?

Busy place, be nice when it's finished! According tae Wikipedia - Shanghai proper (whetever that means) is the biggest city in the world by population. By jings it certainly feels like it. This place is massive and - noo whats the word - aye...'choca'. Booming is another word I would use tae describe Shanghai. There are already more skyscrapers here than in New York City, apparently, and there is room for tons more. Indeed, tons more are in the offing judging by the piles o rubble and giant cranes everywhere. Man I reckon in 5 years time this place is gonny be just outstanding. I mean it's pretty outstanding the noo.

We get intae Pudong International Airport eftir a 4am start, a 1 hour flight tae Sydney and then a 10 hour flight tae Shanghai. Bit tender by the time we get in and pretty much expecting a nightmare through Chinese customs and public transport tae oor hotel but...naw....none o that. Peice o piss actually. Customs just hae a wee look at oor passports and we are in. It wis harder getting intae New Zealand. MUCH harder. So then we loup on the Maglev train and get weeched intae Shanghai City at a walloping 300km/h. Straight off the Maglev ontae the Metro, where all the signs and even the PA announcements have English translations, and aboot 20 minutes later off we get wi a 10 minute walk tae the hotel. This is a bit o a pain right enough as oor bags are heavy and it is pissing wi rain but we make it and the hotel is really braw. Bloody should be for £35 a night.

Seriously...folks....£35. The money's weird in China. For a start it has two names. Some places call it Renminbi. Some places call it Yuan. Same damn stuff. Some things are shit cheap. Just shit cheap. Fags for example are £1.50 for 20 Marlborough lights much tae Jacs' delight. Ye can get ones much, much cheaper than that though. Like 60p for 20 and the likes. Everybody smokes in China and they dinny hae a smoking ban either so ye can light up in Restaurants, Pubs etc. I know we havny had the ban for long back home but it seems weird now, people smoking indoors. Onyways...aye money, the price o things. So accommodation is obviously on the cheap side - a decent hotel in most cities costs ye less than £50 a night. Much less if ye look around. £20-£30 here and there. That's New York Hostel prices. Public transport is ridiculously cheap. Ye can get fae one end o the city tae the other on the metro for 40p. Jacs and me got the ferry across the Huangpu River the other day for a whole 5p each. 5p! I felt like saying tae the fella - 'ye've a hard neck asking for anything if it's only bloody 5p'. But I didny - he looked pretty hard. Food is pretty cheap, depending on where ye go, obviously, but a decent Chinese restaurant in a non-tourist area will set ye back less than £20. Jacs and I both had roast duck the other night there, cooked two different ways likes, wi a starter between us, a portion o rice each and two bottles o beer for £17. This wis a pretty glam looking place aswell. Damn tasty anaw. So then ye go for a coffee somewhere and it's £2.50! Aboot the same price as back home. In the department stores the clothes and things are the same price as the UK - £40 for a pair o jeans, £100 for a jacket etc. Note this is only Shanghai though obviously which I'm no sure is at all representative o the rest o the country. We'll soon see.

Aye so anyway we get tae the hotel nae bother and it is braw. As I mentioned - it is raining. It pretty much keeps on raining the whole time we are in Shanghai unfortunately which is a bit o a pain in the buttocks. It's cauld aswell. Kicking the arse of freezing actually - 2, maybe 3 degrees. Shock tae the system eftir roasty, toasty Australia. Aye so we're in the hotel.

Next morning we take, what looks on the map like maybe an hour's hike, intae the city. This turns oot tae be a three hour hike. Oops. Misjudged that yin. Onyway it's quite braw as it takes us through the old French Concession and there are, surprise, surprise, wee pastry shops aw the way along the street. We stop for one o these. Well ye would wouldn't ye. Eventually we hit The Bund, which is supposed tae be the smartest bit o town wi old European style buildings along the riverside and a view across the river tae the Pudong where aw the new skyscrapers are piled up. The Bund, however, is being redeveloped at the minute and the pavements are aw dug up, forcing ye tae walk on the road - which is aw muddy and with every step yer very life is in danger fae one o Shanghai's crazy drivers. No the best. Seriously man, these people know not the concepts of 'traffic lights' or 'pedestrian crossings'. Ye see a green man and think 'Ho...that's me' and across ye go and suddenly yer dodging cars, scooters, cyclists and all horns beeping and bells ringing. 'Hello, people?...green man!'. Och it fair gets the blood pumping so it dis. Onyway so The Bund is a nightmare. We hae a wee look aboot it onyway and three kids try and scam us. Apparently it's a well known scam that youngsters pretending tae be art students will invite ye tae see an exhibition and have tea, at the end of which ye are presented wi a huge bill. 'Art students eh? Let me paint you a picture, sunshine - get fucked!'. We then walk back along Nanjing Road tae this area which is aw lit up like the Las Vegas Strip wi wee Chinese dudes and dudettes spotting ye a mile off and falling over each other tae get tae ye tae say, invariably, 'Hello sir! You want watch, bag, shoe?' and pointing at pictures o the aforementioned items on a laminated sheet. Slightly irritating but nothing a gentle 'No Thanks!' disny tackle. Easy. Bite tae eat fae a Chinese fast food joint called 'Yoshinoya'...take my advice, don't ever....and then it's ontae the subway and 20p take us hame. Day one knocked in.

Day two is chucking wi rain so we hae a wander aroond the Shanghai Museum. Jingseroonie what a place. Noo we tend tae think Scotland or Europe have long, rich histories. Ye take a look at this stuff and it blows ye away. These guys had a comlex and artistically refined civilization going on while we were scratching aboot looking for worms tae eat. Huge, ornate bronze pots 6000 years old. Porcelain, carved jade, paintings, calligraphy - four, three thousand years old. The numbers make yer brain hurt. Quite incredible. Royal Dynasties that lasted two thousand years! Two thousand years, folks! Think aboot that. Incredible. Aye, needless tae say the museum is well smart. We hae an early tea in a Chinese curry house - I get a curry served in a hollowed oot half loaf o bread and Jacs has a kind of seafood soup and discovers it is impossible tae crack open a crab wi a pair o chopsticks - and then we make the ridiculous mistake of trying tae catch the metro home - at rush hour - on a Friday. Man I've never seen so many people all trying to get someplace. Ye just point yersel at your metro line number and then just go with the flow of people. There are millions of them and you are jammed in between them. If it turns oot tae be a mass suicide attempt and everybody is jumping in the Huangpu at the end o this line then you are going with them, I'm afraid. There's just nae stopping. It's wild.

Day three is chucking it aswell so we head oot tae the Science and Technology Museum over the river. Jingso thon is some place. Enormous concrete and glass building that feels like an airport terminal in which there are some quite interesting science-y type displays like, for example, a piano-playing robot and some replica rockets. Well....it was somewhere tae be oot the rain, alright! When we get back intae town we, forgetting it is Saturday afternoon, decide tae hae a wee look aroond a department story. Busy? Imagine shopping on Christmas Eve and multiply that in noise and number of people by about 3 or 4 times. Thats how busy it wis. No the optimum time tae be ganning shopping ye could say. This is too much for the McPs and so we jump on the busy busy busy (always busy) metro and head back to our quiet(er) wee neck o the woods in the French Concession. Bliss. We pop intae a proper Chinese restaurant along fae oor hotel and it was like walking intae a saloon in a 19th century California Gold Rush town, the music stopped and everybody stared at us. Nevertheless, the staff whisked us off tae a corner and we managed tae order some food and it wis delicious. This is the night we have the two ducks. Remember? Remember the two ducks story fae earlier on hmmm? There ye are.

 

Day four gets a bit better as the rain goes aff, jings the Sun even nearly comes oot a couple o times, and so we bounce owr the river...or, well, under it really on the metro...and head for the Jin Mao Tower, the tallest building in Shanghai. Maybe one o the tallest in the World I'm no sure. Noo if there is a smarter building anywhere I'd be mighty surprised. The Jin Mao tower is beautiful. Just beautiful. Concrete and glass never looked so good. If ye hae a look at the photaes, there are two really tall builings in a lot o the photaes. The Jin Mao tower is the one that disny look like a huge bottle opener. We pay tae go up tae the observation deck on the 88th floor and spot a waxwork model of Jackie Chan which I, obviously, insist Jacs takes a photo of me with. Hilariously, just after this....some young Chinese guys come over and ask if they can have their photos taken with me! I, of course, oblige. Madness. I reckon they thought I wis Bruce Willis. I do look a bit like him eh? Actually joking aside it might hae been the bald heid. No many baldys in China. They aw generally hae lovely, thick, black hair. What's their secret dae ye hink? Noodles? Anyway mighta been that. I'd noticed a few folk staring at me afore. They're quite obvious aboot is some o them likes. Gie ye a guid look up and doon when yer standing in the metro car. Bit disconcerting. Never mind. Onyway up the Jin Mao and crivvens what a view ye get up there. Ye can see all of Shanghai. Or ye would could see all of Shanghai if it wisny for the smog. Bit o a pollution problem in the Shanghai likesay. I actually wonder if they ever see the sky here. Onyway we dig the view for a bit and then shoot back doon and oot and walk doon the river tae the aforementioned ridiculously cheap ferry crossing which brings us, more or less, intae old town Shanghai. This is an area with nae skyscrapers and all the old buildings - temples and the likes - which comprises the original town of Shanghai. Its a big tourist spot as ye can imagine but still pretty cool and ye get a bit o a thrill as ye push yer way through the crowds haen a wee keek at aw the stuff for sale in the shops, silkware and artwork and nick-nacks. Funny though, in among all these ancient pagoda-type buildings, ye can clealy see the evidence of Western encroachment - KFC, Pizza Hut, Macdonalds & Starbucks signs everywhere. Also ye can see the city skyscrapers through the crack between the old buildings. Modernity is over-running you Shanghai. In among all this madness there is a wee place called the Yu Yuan Garden which is this peaceful wee oasis in the heart o the old town. We pay tae get in here and chill out wandering around for a bit enjoying the peace.

We are spat oot the old town on the West-side near a place called Xin Tian Di which is a renovated wee part o town wi modern, two story, brick buildings and some fancy pubs and restaurants. Also this is where the Chinese Communist Party had it's first assembly. Ooh! I reckon the original building has been knocked doon though. We stop in a Paulaner Beer House for some wheat bear and then go for a Thai meal. Well...ye cannae have Chinese every night.

On oor last day it flipping chucks it doon all day again. We've decided tae take a bit o a swing oot o the city-centre a wee bit and find a place called Mogashan where there is an artists area with a bunch of independent wee galleries. Christ what a bloody hard place tae find. Oor guide book is only two years old but I think that even since it was written, Shanghai has changed a lot. Consequently, we get a wee bit lost looking for this place and end up walking about in the rain for an hour or so. Not cool. We do find it eventually though and, though probably no worth the hassle o finding it, was pretty groovy. Alas, ye werny allowed tae take pictures in any o the galleries so I cannae show ye any o the stuff. Eftir this we wander aboot 10 minutes due South-West and find Yufo Si, the temple of the Jade Buddha. Two Jade Buddhas were brought to Shanghai from Burma in the 19th century and this is where they are at. One o them is the reclining Buddha which there are photos o but the other one, the Jade Buddha, ye arny allowed tae take photos o. It is aboot 2 metres tall carved oot a single piece o milky Jade with all encrusted jewels and sits in a wee seperate builing at the back o the temple. Stunning. No having had enough o temples, we wander back intae town and go see the Jing'an Si, Shanghai's main working temple, and hae a keek at this. Big silver Buddha boy is quite smart even wi aw scaffolding roond aboot him. So after this we catch the metro along tae The Bund and, wi a bit o difficulty given the turmoil of the Bund, find M on the Bund where we intend tae hae a posh meal on oor last night. Isny open yet when we get there so we go tae the bar below where Jacs has a cocktail and I hae a....ah bliss...dram of The MacAllan and we sip these while looking oot watching the skyscraper lights coming on across the river. Lovely. Oor meal upstairs is very good - I have pork and Jacs has steak - and what a view oot the windae.

Onyway that's the end o that. Shanghai rattled. Just sitting waiting until it's time tae split fae the hotel and go catch oor train tae Guilin. Went doon for breakfast there and was reading the English language China Daily. Front page is denouncing The Hurt Locker's oscar triumph as 'Pentagon propaganda'. Ye forget aboot things like that sometimes. There is an English language channel on the telly here and it's been interesting watching that this week as they've been having the big National People's Congress and talking a lot aboot China's place in the world, both now and for the future. Quite unprepared tae even consider seccesionist claims of a certain province, denouncing their red and gold robed leader (no mentioning names ye notice) as the ring-leader of a dangerous seperatist movement. Some things they do discuss quite rationally and pragmatically though like the economy and wealth disparity. They do acknowledge they have problems and do seem tae be approaching them in a positive way. Interesting place the China.

Oh aye...big intae their fitba anaw. There is a channel on the telly showing fitba constantly. Live English, German, Italian and Chinese games and, when there isny any fitba on, they show re-runs of old World Cup and Euro games. Braw. Managed tae catch the Portsmouth V Birmingham FA Cup Quarter-final on Saturday night there and it was quality listening tae the Chinese commentator trying tae pronounce 'James McFadden'. Wisny having as much difficulty wi' 'Barry Ferguson' though as ye can hear if ye watch the wee video I've posted.   

Interesting place the Shanghai. Ye'll be hearing aboot it, mark my words. They are having The Shanghai Expo 2010 on a massive site across the river there in May and, judging from the adverts for it, it's gonny be utterly spectacular. Huge buildings representing hunders o different countries. Shame we are missing that really but will be keeping an eye oot for it.

Onyway that's me off. Heading South where hopefully it's warmer. Jacs has just come back fae the shops and told me it is snowing. Uy.

 

Zai Jian.

McPagoda

 

PS.Oh, everyone hacks and gobs which is awful.  Every nerve in my body just screams.  This one woman did it off the ferry and I nearly thru-up.  But hey-ho at least it is a fantastic way to teach children never to lift the chewing gum off the pavement !!!!!!  

Jacs xx


Pictures

Shanghai Skyline
City Lights
Nanjing Road
Brick Head
 
 

4 Comments

elliot Mather:
March 10, 2010
Sounds braw.

Now when you say people might have thought you were Bruce Willis, was that Moonlighting era Brucey or 12 Monkeys era?

Enjoy the southern provinces.
Sam:
March 10, 2010
Elliot - I am thinking 12 Monkeys Era!!!

Great to hear you guys again. Sxx
Lbb:
March 13, 2010
Hey you 2.. loving hearing about your travels.. pics fantastic too keep them coming and looking forward to seeing you soon take care... Lesley
May 18, 2010
A healthy body needs a good shoe, meaning you have to wear shoes for you. People can not lack sports, then you need sport shoes or casual shoes to exercise. I think air jordan shoes are really good brand. Our <a href=" http://www.airjordans.cc /">air jordan shoes </a> provides cheaper but high-quality shoes, hope you like it.
Fuzzy Travel · Next »
Create blog · Login