THREE FACES OF SHANGHAI

IMG_1853.jpg

Here above are samples of the first two.

Looking over the Old City (the smallest, oddest and most under threat) to the towers of Pudong separated by the Huangpu River. I’m craning out the window of our AirBnB on the 23rd floor of a tower block with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and, bless it, a washing machine with an excellent place to dry clothes — and a wall decoration worthy of record.

IMG_1855.jpgIt turned out to be an excellent place to begin, on the fringe of the tourist bubble, but next to another tower block full of restaurants and a huge supermarket. Our entry to the Old City from the south was up through a ‘normal’ street studded with noodle and dumpling shopsIMG_1824.jpg and the hordes who wanted to take photos of junior foreigners.IMG_1834.jpgThat the Old City exists at all is a phenomenon. It is vigorous with popular life, hundreds of tiny shops with odd collections of sale items, complex sculptural versions of wiring,  people still doing their washing in troughs in the street belting it into sparkling submission with long poles, sitting, eating, chatting, watching. Apparently it was declared a Historical Cultural Scenery Area in 2006 preserving it from the depredations of developers, if not tourists. The closer you get to City God Temple and the Yu Gardens the more dense they become.

IMG_1862.jpg

It was a walk to the Bund from where we were. There was no shortage of other photographers. Having your photo taken here is an important Chinese pastime.thumb_IMG_1257_1024.jpgAnd below is the view to the other side, dominated by the office towers of New China. The first time we went to Shanghai ‘the bottle opener’, still under construction at the time, was the big building. The Shanghai Tower, all 628m of it, now ummm towers over everything else.

I’ve written about this part of Pudong elsewhere. It is a reminder that one-third of the world’s billionaires are Chinese.IMG_1840.jpg

We were in Shanghai for the purposes of child-minding while our daughter and son-in-law were working for/with a Chinese drum manufacturing company. The modern world.IMG_2004.jpg

With 25 or so recruits from the company and elsewhere they spent several days developing and practising a performance for the Shanghai International Music Expo which was a spectacle in itself; no idea how many hectares of display space, tiring just to look at. I’ve checked: in total 2 sq km of indoor space; 3 sq km, of outdoor display space; 17 display halls each one bigger than Jeff’s Shed (a Melbourne yardstick of ‘big’).thumb_IMG_0403_1024.jpg

Three generations of gorgeous gals here. The third one is on the banner behind. The spectacle (Fr.) was deemed a success.thumb_IMG_0458_1024.jpg

And we feasted yet again.thumb_IMG_0491_1024.jpg

For this part of the journey we were living in the third face of Shanghai, the one where most of its population lives, the endless forests of tower blocks that make up 7/8 of the city. This is the view from the window of our hotel.IMG_2068.jpg

Not Shanghai Disney or Madame Tussaud’s, although we went there too, but somewhere being turned into living spaces.

IMG_1922.jpg

Each night some of the street corners provided old style commerce and life: here wok- and Bbq-cooked food; on the opposite corner, fruit and vegetables from the back of a truck. Below, after a big feed inside, passionate dance.IMG_1889.jpg

One night we went for a walk after dinner to shake down the jellyfish, chicken feet, chilli greens and blood jelly, just a stroll round the blocks and, lo and behold, stumbled on hundreds of people on several street corners dancing, guǎngchǎng wǔ, public square dance. It was a surprise but apparently more than 100 million people participate. (So a tiny minority activity! Ah … you can say things like that about China.) I didn’t partake but a gallant gentleman inquired if my wife was interested and of course she was. Crummy photo of a memorable event.thumb_IMG_0494_1024.jpgWe returned to the luxury tourist version of Shanghai for the last two days and had a luxury tourist version of a good time: mooched round, ate Macca’s, bought things, went to Mme. Tussaud’s most successfully, and made an assault on Shanghai Tower.

It is a simply magnificent building, nine blocks stacked on each other inside a glass sheath with a twist and an inset, and yes, 628m high, the second highest building in the world.

As will be obvious the weather had been fine and hot and the air relatively clear for the duration — until the last day, the day of our ascent.IMG_1344.JPG

We spent modest fortunes getting to the 128th floor and sawIMG_1345.JPGI had in mind something more like

images.jpeg

But what the hell. We can do it again next time. 

Two eccentric faces that don’t really count.IMG_1312.jpg

That’s called ‘stopping in the middle of a panorama’.

We found the painting below in M50, Shanghai’s arts precinct with its intriguing contents. It probably tells China’s contemporary story — and a tale of the world’s future — and illustrates that the new empire will not be completely bereft of irony.thumb_IMG_1331_1024.jpg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s