Final stop on tour: Shanghai! First stop: a Chinese acrobats show! How many Chinese girls can you fit on a bicycle? I think the answer was 8:
But I’m not entirely sure. It’s a bit difficult to count. Here’s an easier one: how many Chinese idiots on motorcycles can you fit into the “Ball of Death”? Easy: 5!
If one crashes, they’re all dead, but that’s ok. This is China. There are 1.4 billion more, right? I myself will steer clear of the “Ball of Death”… or the anything “of Death” for that matter.
Shanghai was the most western of the cities we visited in China, but there were still touches of the real China all around. In the morning, locals do Tai Chi and some random dances in the streets:
The Shanghai Museum gave a great cultural history of China. Featured were jade, pottery, garments, calligraphy, furniture, sculpture, and of course, the scariest water pitcher ever:
There was a bit of time for shopping! Just like in Beijing, markets were all around in Shanghai. While the salesladies weren’t as aggressive in Shanghai as they were a few days earlier in Beijing, I still got grabbed by one of the shop owners. She refused to let go of my arm so I had to forcefully rip it free and hop on an escalator to get the hell away from her. She cried. And after that whole ordeal, I took a small amount of pleasure in her tears. Don’t try to rip me off, bitch.
There was a whole section of one of the markets devoted to pearls. They aren’t natural pearls, but rather cultured ones. So they are real, but they are given a helping hand by humans. Here is a much friendlier pearl store owner making a necklace:
After the tour ended, I spent a few extra days in Shanghai with my friends, Ross & Jonathon. The Shanghai Boys, as I refer to them, are friends of mine from Sydney who moved to Shanghai nearly a year ago and were the inspiration for my trip. I got to do a bit more sightseeing in those few extra days, and a few of the things I saw were pretty interesting. One of them – off the beaten path – was the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center.
Inside, there were a few rooms filled with propaganda posters, mostly from the Cold War period. There were a ton of anti-American posters and even more pro-Communist and pro-Soviet posters. One in particular caught my attention: a poster of a muscular Chinese man holding hands with a muscular Russian man. The poster was illustrating the friendship between China and the USSR. To me: it just looked really gay. So I bought a copy.
On a different note, I was also able to check out the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum.
Shanghai was one of the only places in the world to not limit Jewish immigration in the years leading up to World War II. So, roughly 30,000 Jews escaped Europe and made new homes in Shanghai. Today, all of the Jews have left for western countries, but their synagogue remains and has been converted into a museum. The museum featured an art gallery, a timeline of events, and several personal stories of select Shanghai Jews. I had no prior knowledge of Shanghai Jews, so I found it all quite fascinating.
Back on the metro… I wasn’t alone. I think 1.2 billion of China’s 1.4 billion must be on Shanghai’s subway system at any given time. Ross informed me that this was actually quite empty:
Stop pushing me! Ugh! I strolled around The Bund – a waterfront section of Shanghai full of old European buildings:
Across the river sits the Pudong New Area. Formerly farmland and countryside, the Pudong New Area was declared a Special Economic Zone in 1993. From there, construction took off, people moved in, and buildings went up… and up… and up. In less than twenty years, what used to be nothing has turned into this:
Pretty crazy. More to follow on that two blogs from now. I dipped over to the Pudong New Area via the subway. I was looking for the China Sex Culture Museum which was sadly kept hidden from my view. Instead, I hopped down into the Bund Tourist Tunnel to take me back under the river to the main part of Shanghai. There wasn’t a very good description in English of what the hell was going on, but I later found out that the tunnel takes you on a journey from the centre of the Earth to outer space (or vice versa depending on which way you are traveling). I’m always game for a little tacky touristy, but this…
This was tacky beyond belief. I paid how much for that?