Saturday, April 24, 2010

You Can Wait Like Everyone Else!

Our second day in Shanghai was spoilt by rain. We had planned to go and wander the streets of the French Concession districts to visit the little cafes, bakeries and parks, but we were put off by the down pour. Instead, we decided to visit Xujiahui train station which is at least in the same district as the French Concession, but is surrounded by a number of multi-storied shopping malls. While Jenni enjoyed browsing the large English section in one of the big book stores within Metro Plaza, I enjoyed exploring the huge multi-storied computer market, similar to the one we saw in Xi'an, but even bigger. There was even some stalls setup with work benches where once you were finished getting ripped off by the salesmen because you are a foreigner.... err I mean, finished buying your computer parts, people would put it all together for you in front of you! Next door to the computer market was a Best-Buy that had pretty much all of the major things available in the computer market, but at fixed prices. If you weren't too sure how much to bargain for something at the computer market, you could take a quick trip over to check what the standard price is to make sure that you don't get screwed on a deal.

The following day was also spoilt by rain, by we managed to keep ourselves entertained by visiting the Shanghai museum. With free admission, the day at the museum proved to be very cheap and entertaining. We were fortunate enough to see the Uffizi Gallery exhibit which is a on loan to the museum from Italy. The rest of the exhibits were based on Chinese history and included jade carvings, stone statues, paintings, calligraphy, porcelain crafts and bronze relics. The statue exhibit was excellent as nearly all of the statues were not enclosed in glass cases, enabling you to get right up close to see the detail. The jade carving exhibit was also very interesting, although I am unsure how to regard the information that we gained from it. Let me explain... 

I do not claim to be an expert when it comes to jade relics, but the dates for some of the older jade pieces on display seemed a bit too far fetched to be believed. We saw some jade relics which were small statue carvings with rather intricate patterns and components on them. The plaque would claim that this relic was created in 4,000 BC. Surely to create a carving with such level of intricacy, one would require precision metal tools. Last time I checked, the bronze age didn't occur in China until 2,000 BC, so they didn't have that technology at the time, so what then did they use to make these carvings? My questions were 'answered' when we watched a video in the jade exhibition that claimed that they used other 'hard rocks' such as flint to make the carvings. This was explained while showing a Chinese guy dressed in rags banging a piece of dark rock (I assume it was supposed to be flint) on some jade stone. I will believe that they could have created some form of jade carvings using this technique, but I am sorry... I simply find it difficult to believe that someone could carve all of those intricate patterns and components by banging a bloody hard rock against a small jade block. 

After viewing that exhibit, I was some what skeptical about the information on display in other parts of the museum. I was half expecting that the plaque in front of Sandro Botticelli's "Adoration of the Magi", on display in the Uffizi Gallery, to claim that it was painted by Chairman Mao in 1959, when he landed on the moon, a whole 10 years before the Americans did.

The next day we did a day trip to Tongli. I have been forbidden to do the post on Tongli as some immature aspects of my sense of humour may get the better of me, so I have been instructed to skip it and let Jenni write about in her next article. Don't worry, you will figure out what I am talking about when you read it!

On our final day in Shanghai, we returned to the Bund to see it in daylight. We took a trip in 'The Bund Sightseeing Tunnel'. It was certainly not what we expected. The entrance to the tunnel lies right next to the edge of the riverside and leads you down a long escalator. When we saw this, we assumed it was a tunnel that ran from one side of the river to the other, along the riverbed, with a glass top, kind of like a walk through aquarium. Upon arriving at the entrance to the tunnel, we were escorted into a small carriage that we were to ride in. Instead of being what we expected, it was more like something out of the twilight zone. The large tunnel that our carriage travelled down was pitch dark, then suddenly illuminated with coloured flashing lights and eerie music. As we travelled through the 'sightseeing tunnel', the music would change along with the patterns the lights were making and a corny voice over would sound saying something like 'Meteor Shower' or 'Molten Lava'. It was really weird, but very entertaining.

The highlight of the day came when we were travelling back to our hostel so we could make a move to get to our next accommodation. Jenni and I were waiting to purchase our ticket at the self service ticketing machine at one of the busy subway stations. As per usual, the idiots in front of us were taking forever to buy their ticket. After having to wait for about 5 minutes for them to figure the thing out, they finally managed to get their ticket. Just as I was about to step up to start purchasing ours, an old geezer barged right in front of me and started punching in the information on the machine to get his ticket. Up until this point in our trip in China, Jenni and I have been frozen in shock when things like this have happened and by the time we are able to think straight, the time to do anything about it has long past. Well not this time... To the crowds amazement, I grabbed the bloke by the shoulder, swung him around, looked straight into his eyes and yelled at him "Oi!". The guy froze as I can only assume he could see the fires of hell blazing in my eyes. I then leaned over to the machine and hammered the 'Cancel' button on his transaction, turned to him and said with a growl "Listen here you rude ****. You go to the back of the line and wait like everyone else!". I doubt that he actually understood exactly what I said to him (or what I called him), but he and his wife certainly got the gist of it as she promptly grabbed him by the arm and escorted him to the back of the line with his tail between his legs. 

I don't think I have felt so satisfied with myself in such a long time.

Now we are headed to Hangzhou, a smaller city that lies to the south of Shanghai. When I say smaller, what I mean to say is smaller than Beijing and Shanghai which both have populations of 15 million people EACH! Hangzhou is definitely smaller, but it still has a population of 6.5 million!


  1. Using this opportunity to wish Jennifer a Happy 26th. Birthday. Hope that you have a good day and a very good year to follow.
    Enjoying your blog. Both of you look well happy
    and fit.

  2. Happy Birthday Jennifer hope you find a great cake to enjoy for your celebration in exciting places. Glad to see AMR your grand pa has mastered the blog. I have been cycling with Allister, Julie, Robert and Patrick in Denmark, lovely and sunny, also good wine. Love Margaret