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Shanghai part 1

overcast 20 °C

I have a good sleep in and am late down for breakfast, so just a light one today. I am in the French Concession area, and I start out by walking the neighbourhood and looking at some of the shops. Just here in FuMin Lu there are some great porcelain and ceramics shops, as well as Mrs. Mao’s Dowry where there are some modern souvenirs.
Head up along JuLu Rd to Brocade Country where there are some of the traditional crafts, particularly woven and embroidered fabrics from the Yunnan area. I can appreciate the craftsmanship, but they are not for me, or for anyone I know as souvenirs.
After this I kept walking across town. The streets are not crowded; there are lots of bicycles still, and loads of delivery vans. In the French Concession area, the streets are lined with plane trees so they are quite cool and green. It is not at all what I expected in my happy ignorance. I am working my way across town to The Former Residence of Dr Sun Yat Sen. Here I get to have a look at some of the history behind the 1911 uprising - a cause for special celebration on this, the centenary. There is plenty to see and English translations for the permanent exhibits. Next door in the residence itself, the rooms are well preserved (or restored?) showing that this was a modest residence that he lived in.Sun Yat Sen's Museum

Sun Yat Sen's Museum

For a break I see there are the Fuxing gardens next door. I head in and have a bit of a sit down. Here there are people spending their Saturday relaxing, playing mah-jongg or reversi. In other corners, families are having picnics on the grass (well rugged up though) and others are dancing to music being played. A very happy place for all concerned. Dancing in the park

Dancing in the park

Next stop is the old trendy alleyways in Taikang Lu’s Tianzifang where there is a real crowd, wall to wall people, this is more what I expected! There is plenty of stuff here, I pick up a Mao Slogan shopping bag, 110Yuan, not particularly cheap. I also head up to the Dongtai antique market and have a look around there. Not much I am set on, but some good fried samosa like thingies off a street cart keep the fires fed.
It is starting to get dark so I head over to Xintiandi. The place I am after here is Din Tai Fung. I arrive and there is a queue, but being a single I get through quickly to one of the small tables. I have read this is the place for great xiao long bao - a broth filled dim sum. They are good too, with the hot broth bursting into your mouth and mixing with the flavour of the pork or shrimp stuffing. BUT they are HOT and can burn the roof of your mouth if you are not careful. The meal has been really god, now it is late and I could do with rolling myself home.
The next morning I am down earlier so I get more breakfast, and a chat with a French family. Today I am off to the Shanghai museum, but I have learnt enough not to walk all the way there. So it is onto the metro and off to people’s square. Shanghai Museum does not look big from the outside; the entry atrium is a square, four floors high, with galleries off on each side. I have to select what I am going to look at, unless I can cycle through. There is a great display of traditional clothes from all the different regions, and a map showing just how many regions there are in modern China. The range of costumes is naturally wide, even including one suit of tanned salmon skins.Costume gallery in the Museum

Costume gallery in the Museum

The jade collection also has a great breadth of pieces on display, showcasing the increasing skills of the craftsmen over the aeons. The many uses of jade from funerary, ceremonial and decorative are all explored. It was complemented by the display of Maori green stone in the ground floor exhibition space. Next was the ceramics. And although some were not to my taste, there were a few porcelain bowls where the depth of colour in the glazes was just amazing.
After all this, I went quickly through the different collections, including painting, calligraphy, bronze, furniture and coins. Last stop was the museum shop where the souvenirs and reproductions are good, and not bad prices.
I watched the kites flying in the people’s square, and then spent some time in the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre. Here they have the Master plan of how Shanghai will look in 10 years time – and details of the plans for reducing pollution (move the coal burning power stations away from the city – no mention of cars?) Increasing the green spaces in the city, cleaning up the creeks and rivers, particularly the rotten Suzhou River. Having walked around part of town yesterday, there is still plenty of the old neighbourhoods being closed down and boarded up ready for the bulldozers and tower blocks to move in.Ready for the wrecking ball

Ready for the wrecking ball

From here I head across the Huangpu to the new side of Shanghai. At this point the plan is to decamp into the bar up on the 79th floor of the Grand Hyatt for dinner and drinks and watch the city change through sunset. At ground level, the sky looks quite blue and clean, but looking out of the hotel, the smog layer is very plain to see. Having paid for the view, I head back via the bund tourist tunnel, a very interesting if strange experience. Halfway across, the camera battery runs out, so the planned photo session on the Bund will not happen.up in the Hyatt bar

up in the Hyatt bar

bund by night

bund by night

Posted by lostagain 05:26 Archived in China

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