Reflections on Shanghai

Well… my most vivid memories of Shanghai are those of noodles… polystyrene bowls of five minute noodles being consumed 24 hours a day in every conceivable location … the clearest image being dozens of people squatting along the walls of the metro tunnels, bowl and chopsticks in hand


A city that’s being built as fast as they can tear it down… Pudong – the new suburb (with the huge bulbous TV tower, used in all promotional material) did not exist 15 years ago – the entire area was a boggy tidal swamp, not even suitable for agriculture…

The Bund… a broad attractive avenue of historic buildings (now housing mainly banks and other financial institutions) runs along the northern side of the Huangpu River opposite in every way to Pudong

I caught the lift to the top of the Peace Hotel (an historic art deco building) and sat in the rooftop garden at night just watching the cities arteries pulse with movement and light

Then walked up Nanjing Road – the most astonishing display of NEON I have ever seen – (It’s been a while since I walked around with my mouth open in astonishment) towards the Peoples Square and my metro station

I am now quite comfortable with the public transport system and haven’t used a cab for days … its 3 Yuan to get into town (12 Yuan = 2 dollars) – the trains are fast, clean and crowded – I find my self watching in amusement as 50 people desperately try to get through 1 door into the carriage as another 50 people try to get through the same door to get off… there seems to be little concept of ‘waiting’ and for those who have ever even hinted that my personal characteristics included being a very ‘I, sort of person’ – I can only suggest you visit Shanghai!!!!


I went to Suzhou today, located approx 1 hours train ride north west of Shanghai on the grand canal. A city of gardens, my favourite is the ‘Humble Administrators’ garden, which has the most beautiful gateways and lattice work screens giving glimpses of the manicured trees and magnificent rock structures beyond…

Walkways and bridges tread there way through the vistas, traversing ponds full of fat goldfish and the odd turtle

The Chinese love to have their photo taken, so at each turn, family members line up to pose in front of the new ’scene’… providing an excellent photo opportunity for the voyeur…

One of the gardens had the most extraordinary collection of ‘flower arrangements’ encompassing pieces of twisted metal, or grids of bamboo, with out and explanation in english, I could only image that they were for some sort of local flower arrangement competition

Then a visit to a magnificent pagoda and temple area cloistered by monks who were quite officious…

And then the toilets… in this case, a long trough providing tiny screens for privacy… my position provided me with a fabulous view of half a dozen ’sweet young things’ dressed to the nines for their weekend family outing… all talking on their mobiles with their bottoms in the air… a perfect photo opportunity missed!

Then lunch at a local restaurant, fish, rice, sea based creatures and soup, which I shared with a family from Sichuan and back onto the ‘barge’ for a tour of the canal – not unlike the train from Newcastle going through the inner city suburbs where you can observe the residents cooking, washing, cleaning or just sitting enjoying the sun

And finally after being released from the tour guide… back to the station to catch a train which is half an hour late, every seat has been triple booked and 50 people crowd each door to get on while another 50 try to get off

Quite a friendly experience really, once you’ve worked out which seat is ‘really’ yours and who your travel companions are…

I saw a very young boy ( 3 or 4 years old) at the station who was being tormented by a crowd of locals… his frustration rose to the point where he pulled down his pants, ran at the crowd and proceeded to wee on them … very primal


Shanghai, China

Nee Hao, Wo boo hway shuo han yu … this is phonetic so noone else will be able to read it.

I’m in Shanghai… spent yesterday at the Peoples Park celebrating the national day holidays with 6 million other shanganese, friendly people (generally) – tend to love to have their photos taken – even thrust the young emperor (single male child) in front of the camera and command he smile.

Lunch at ‘5’ on the Bund – crispy river prawns (eaten whole) followed by seared something on a bed of fresh beans, corn and capsicum with a bottle of aussie white (VVV Expensive) – just joking total each $120 Yuan = $20AU ish

Then the town temple… i got into the spirit of things, burning incense and bowing a lot… fantastic Buddha’s, amazing architecture, millions of friendly Chinese tourists and a very pert pagoda.

Then the back street tiny shop front markets … would you like a Mao – cap, t-shirt, poster, book, bag, watch, lighter, badge, button, suit or set of playing cards?

Tommorrow I’m off to the Moganshan Lu artist colony – studios, galleries (Bizart, Shangart and the new Red Door Gallery) about 100 studios in a converted cement enclave… found several well known chinese contemporary artists ‘at home’ and was able to organise ongoing discussions via email

Then the Town Buddhist Temple and it’s museum of Buddhism with hundreds of different incarnations in a variety of medium.

Just for something really Kitsch I’m going to catch the underground trolley car through the gaudy bund sight seeing tunnel (a stupefying 678m long voyage of flashing lights under the Huanhpu River) to the China Sex Culture Museum.

My mate Wendy flys back to Ghongzhou this afternoon – then I’m on my own?!

Have to run the gauntlet of the thought police again later … logging on to google and bigpond is a bit hit and miss here…

Take care

Love XXX Kate (Mum)