Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Shanghai, continued.

Well, ' still can't post photos but promise to do so while I'm in California.

I started feeling a bit better this morning--after, over a 36-hour period-- only drinking coke and tea and just eating one bowl of rice --so was able to go out for awhile. I think I might have caught stomach flu from somebody--perhaps my roommate on the Chinese boat on the Yangtse, since she spent two days in our berth and seemed to complain of the same kind of headaches and gastric pains which I've been suffering from.

Shanghai is a huge, bustling city, as I'm sure you all know. The Bund, or a particular stretch of the river front, is just as fun to visit during the day as at night, especially as there's an elevated walkway you can take from one end of the Bund to the other, with views on the water and Padong across the river on one side, and the Art Deco buildings dating from the 1920s on the other. I also visited the French concession area, but was rather disappointed since I didn't see very much interesting architecture. Other than that, I also visited the Yunchen (sp?) gardens and markets in the Old Town. The gardens are in the Ming dynasty style and are quite lovely, with their rookeries, fish ponds and small buildings.

The overall impression you get of Shanghai, though, is of high- rise buildings, shopping streets and department stores.

Haven't got much else to report but would like to jot down a few random thoughts, words and experiences I've been storing up in my mind before I forget.

China is............ one big shopping mall...... one big factory...... a land of polluted skies, McDondald's, KFC's, Olay cosmetics, spitting "macho" men (who'll push you out of the way and take the seat you were eyeing on the metro), attractive smiling girls, and adorable (but spoilt, at least in the big cities, since they haven't got any siblings) children.

If I hear another street vendor say "Hello, Lady, watch? bag? Polo shirt?", or the phrase "Where are you from?"--I think I'll scream!

And what to make of the ship steward who wouldn't let me and two of my Canadian backpacker friends go up on the top deck of the boat we were taking through the Little Three Gorges until I threatened (using sign language and pronouncing the name of the capital) to write Beijing and then subsequently took his photo? He's obviously got a little racket going there, as I observed that some Chinese would slip him some Yen and they could go up! Anyway, the follow-up of the story is that, once I was on deck, he BEGGED me not to write Beijing. I, of course, told him ("No, Beijing. No Beijing.") I wouldn't and showed him I'd deleted the photo I'd taken of him. After that, we became the closest of "buddies", and everytime we'd pass some scenic sight, he'd point it out to me and put his arm around me.

It's a communist country, but as all over the world, money definitely "talks" here , and there are huge differences between the have's and have not's. Materialism, consumerism and the unpleasant sides of western culure are rampant. Indeed, I'm beginning to wonder whether in China there are any sort of "social service" or idealistic values left. It all seems so much about acquisition.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for today.



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