Saturday, June 13, 2015

Saturday In Shanghai

Our first day in China began in the enormity of Shanghai.  I say that big cities are the same everywhere...

but then....  This place really had something others do not:  the heart of the city hosts a stunning collection of high rise buildings, each one an architectural masterpiece.  

A stroll along the Bund, the elegant riverside promenade, is a tourist must.  A floral bedecked, elevated boardwalk, swarming with those wanting to see and be seen!

"Old Shanghai" (newly renovated and updated, as in paved streets, painted and refurbished shops) was our first morning stop.  

an original, ancient tea house.

Chinese tourists, and our small group of 35,  clogged the pedestrian lanes, crowded the tiny shops and devoured edible offerings from the street-side cafes.  
(click to enlarge photos)
The things with straws in the middle of them are dumplings full of soup.
Although I was careful to follow our tour guide's warnings not to eat the street food, I still ended up with Travellers' Complaint.  Immodium forever my friend.

 Tour agents advise modest, plain clothing, not too colourful, plain even.  Don't listen to them.  Even on the cruise, which advertised casual dress, the women turned out dressed to impress.

Haggling for purchases was the way of it--fun.  
-How much did you pay for your silk scarf/copy watch/chopsticks/fan?  
-I got mine for half that!

I loved the ancient, enclosed garden we spent time in.  A young, aspiring government official, back in the day, made building this garden his life's work.  He had failed his parents, embarrassing them by not making it in "officialdom", so he tried to make amends by dedicating the garden and it's many buildings to their memory.

Being a country of billions, every effort is made to keep things clean.  Litter is non-existent!  Street sweepers are everywhere, constantly, busily making sure there is not a scrap of paper, piece of string or cigaret butt to be found, and they do it with rag mops, twig brooms  and dust bins, all by hand.

Who is watching who?
-This one looks like a tasty morsel.

We had barely 1.5 hours (not nearly enough time by half) to tour the Shanghai Museum.  We ooo'ed and ahhh'ed over exhibits of ancient Chinese art, ceramics of the Ming Dynasty, jade carvings, silk screens, country dress from day one and onward, scrolls of ancient script (read right to left) complete with red chops (the official stamp, unique to the author, a practice still in use today when gentlemen sign official documents or write letters of import.)

Where we had lunch, there was a silk factory, complete with a display area and a shop.  Who would have guessed???  See it, learn about it, buy it.  At least that was their plan for us tourist types.

I learned that the silk worm builds his cocoon by spinning one continuous strand of ultra thin silk filament around and around himself and then goes into metamorphosis mode.  Before he is ready to eat his way out of his cocoon, thereby breaking the single strand of silk, the cocoons are steamed in boiling water to kill the wee beasty.  Then, people with nimble fingers unwind the cocoon very, very carefully.

Numerous strands are spun together to be used for silk embroidery, cloth, or in this case, carpets.  The fine grade silk carpets are over-the-top luxurious, wonderfully beautiful and fantastically expensive.  No, the Steadfast Crew did not buy anything.

After supper, we were treated to the Shanghai Acrobatic Corps performance.
The highlight, grand finale, was a breathtaking, daredevil act:  8, count them, eight full-size motorcycles spinning, at full speed, INSIDE A ROUND, ORB CAGE!!!!

Ah...the satisfying end to a busy day.  Our five star Westin Hotel was a welcome sight for jet-lagged travellers.  The fun was just beginning.

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