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My vacation in China Part 1, Shanghai - Enjoy!

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  • My vacation in China Part 1, Shanghai - Enjoy!

    My Trip To China (February 1st to April 1st 2005)

    This is my first time traveling in another continent by myself.


    Tuesday Feb. 1st

    The airplane ride from Edmonton to Vancouver took one hour. I had some nuts and
    orange juice on that flight. I landed in Vancouver at 11:30am I walked across the airport
    terminal to catch my next flight to Shanghai. The flight 11-hour flight from Vancouver
    to Shanghai was a long one consisting of 3 meals and one snack. I saw a bunch of
    movies & shows like, China, I Robot, another Chinese movie, a crappy home and garden
    show, a ‘60’s magic women sitcom??, and Frasier. There was a middle-aged lady sitting
    beside me, I introduced myself to her and told her my plans when I get to China. She
    was very helpful in telling me where to stay and what to do in Shanghai. She was so nice
    that she helped me through the Shanghai airport (it was my first time doing this in
    another country and by myself) she also had her husband drive me down to the
    Shanghai Conservatory of Music’s foreign student’s dormitory. I got a dorm room that
    had 2 beds (lucky for me I had the whole room to myself) a shared bathroom on each
    floor, the showers consisting of an open pipe with water running through, at least the
    water was warm, I would realize later on in my vacation that other parts of China don’t
    offer the luxury of warm running water. Unfortunately, my room had no heat so I had to
    keep my sweater on almost all the time. The place cost me Y70 per night; this is where I
    would stay for a couple of days. I offered to compensate the lady for helping me get here
    she refused, God bless her and her generosity. I was tired so I went straight to bed but
    before I did I took pictures of the dorm room, lighting, windows, bed etc. Looking out of
    the window I was elated to see Plaza 66!!!!! I felt like I was seeing a rock star! Thanks to
    all you skyscraper nuts for sharing valuable information on Chinese cities.

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    This is me at the Edmonton International Airport. I would soon be on the other side of the globe.

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    That little white spot in the middle of the photo is Mount Fuji – I swear!

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    It was already dark when I got to Shanghai, I was jumping up & down like a fan seeing a
    rock star in person.

    Wednesday Feb. 2nd

    I woke up at 7:30am, got out of bed and checked my surroundings; sure enough Plaza
    66 was there. I took a picture of the skyscraper and noticed someone doing Tai Chi on
    the ground below and took a picture of him as well. I organized my belongings to prepare
    for a walk outside. I took all my belongings with me because I didn’t want anything
    stolen, especially on the first day. I walked to Huai Hai Rd. towards the elevated freeway,
    on my way, I saw a sign in a small park called “welcome to Shanghai” I took a picture of
    it. After walking around a bit I needed to tell my family & friends that I was in Shanghai
    and everything was all right. I noticed a photography shop that had a computer so I
    asked if it was possible to borrow the computer to do e-mail. The lady at the desk told me
    that the computer wouldn’t be on until 9:00am so I walked back the same way I came.
    On the way back I went into a McDonalds to get breakfast. I also stopped at a “convience
    store” to buy some bottled water, and then I headed back to the dormitory. After
    rearranging my backpack to make it more comfortable I headed out again, this time
    towards Plaza 66. I found navigating through the streets of Shanghai very easy, it’s
    impossible to get lost with all the familiar skyscrapers showing the way. I found a mall
    and went in and found a foreigner (like me) wearing a flashy suit, he appeared to be
    something like a doorman so I went up to him and asked if he knew where I could access
    the internet. He didn’t know of any places but told me that the Chinese word for internet
    bar was something like “wan-ba”. I kept on walking and found another place that had
    computers, I asked the Chinese guy at the front desk if I could borrow a computer to
    access the internet. The guy was nice and allowed me to use his. There were 3 other
    Chinese women in the room and they all crowded around me when I went on the
    computer. They were all curious as to where I would go on the internet. I found my
    e-mail site, typed in my password… ******!** I typed my password!! I hope they didn’t
    notice so I continued on with a poker face. I decided to cut my e-mail time short so I
    wouldn’t reveal anything else to the curious but nice people. I headed back to the
    photography shop. When I got there the lady was confused at what I was trying to say
    because she didn’t know much English, still not knowing what I was trying to say she
    motioned me to come with her. She led me up a dark, dirty, narrow staircase in the back
    of the building the stairs lead up to an office where another lady was working on a
    computer. The girl talked to the lady sitting in the desk and she told me that I could
    borrow her computer. I sent out the remaining e-mails and gave her Y10 in thanks for
    the kindness. I left the place and continued to explore heading up Huai Hai Rd. The
    buildings got older, the streets became narrow, and the density increased. It sank to me
    that I was going in the right direction towards the Oriental Pearl TV Tower after walking
    further I ended up seeing the tower sticking out in the sky. After walking a few more
    blocks I encountered the river and Shanghai’s skyline in all it’s glory. I was filled with joy.
    I walked around the Bund, this place is large with many narrow streets filled with old
    buildings, and indeed Shanghai is the Paris of the orient. The Bund is in need of tender
    loving care, the buildings are dirty, and some are boarded up while others have
    “plumbing” shops in otherwise glamorous buildings fit for high-end stores and business. I
    zig zaged my way through the bund and bumped into The People’s Square. By this time
    my large backpack was getting heavy on my shoulders. I stopped for lunch at a Kentucky
    Fried Chicken - I ordered a chicken burger. The chicken patty had large flaps all over it, it
    almost didn’t look like a chicken patty, and the spices in the patty were stronger than
    what we have in Canada. After that I headed straight back to the dormitory. While I was
    heading back on Huai Hai Rd. I noticed the pedestrian traffic was packed; I never walked
    in an everyday human traffic jam before, quite a refreshing change from the near empty
    streets in my hometown. There were also high-pressure sales people on the sidewalks
    holding flyers of watches, jewelry etc. These people were trying to get shoppers to go to
    their store, almost like panhandling without the grit. I declined all requests. When I got
    back to the dormitory I pulled out my Lonely Planet to find where the internet bars were
    in Shanghai, it told me to go to the Shanghai Library.


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    Good morning Shanghai!

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    My “comfy” dorm room at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

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    Thanks for the welcome Shanghai!

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    Looks haunted.

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    Huai Hai Rd. heading towards the Bund.

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    Huai Hai Rd. heading towards my dorm.

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    Looking towards the People’s Square

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    Believe it or not but there is a playground there.

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    My first sight of the Jin Mao building.

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    The Shanghai skyline.

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    From within the Bund district.

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    The streets are narrow inside the Bund, car traffic is restricted.

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    Thursday, Feb. 3rd

    I woke up at 7:15am the morning was cold so I decided to try the shower out, at least
    the water would be hot. I drank some water, brushed my teeth and packed my
    belongings. I took only the important stuff with me and hid the backpack under the bed.
    Hopefully no one would notice. I headed out to McDonalds for breakfast, and then I went
    to the Library, found the computer room and did my e-mail and skyscraperpage
    browsing. Going on the computer made me feel like I never left home. One of my plans
    for the vacation was to go and see my brother; he gave me an e-mail telling me that we
    should meet in Chengdu before the Chinese New Year, which was fine with me. I left the
    Library and went on the subway towards The People’s Square (Y2 or Y4 depending on
    distance traveled) At the square I went to see the Shanghai Urban exhibition hall (Y60).
    This place is a city/skyscraper nut’s dreams come true. Plans, Plans, models, and more
    models of what to come in Shanghai There was also a Picasso exhibit but it only consisted
    of sketches that he made. After seeing the exhibits I went back to the subway to head
    towards Pu Dong New Area where the Oriental Pearl TV Tower is. Unfortunately I made
    the mistake of getting off a station to early – Middle Huan Rd. Station. I decided to make
    the best of it and explore the Bund district in hopes of finding the Yan An Rd. tunnel.
    Failing that I headed back to Middle Huan Rd. Station and continued on my way to
    Pu Dong. When I got there I realized that I was running low on money and had to
    transfer more money from my money belt. I was going to do it in the privacy of a
    washroom but found out that the washroom near me charged Y.50 so I didn’t do it. I
    dropped the idea of going up the Oriental TV tower because it costs Y100; instead I
    headed to the Jin Mao building. This building is incredible! Built for the world’s uber rich
    they spared no compromises in the quality of materials and design. The doorman told me
    that it was free to go to the 52nd floor hotel lobby so I went up there and took a look of
    the view. After that I went back to the base of the tower and looked at the Shanghai
    World Finance centre’s construction site. I was glad to see heavy equipment busy at work
    on the site even though the building wasn’t above ground. I found a quiet area and
    transferred some money from my money belt to my wallet. Then I headed back to the
    Subway, I was starting to worry about the cost of things here, and my brother told me
    that things get significantly cheaper the further inland you get in China. I decided I had
    seen enough of Shanghai and headed off to the Shanghai Railway Station. Upon getting
    there I noticed a swarming mass of 50,000 people all over the train station. I also
    noticed people carrying and putting up decorations for Chinese New Year. I went into the
    noisy train station, found the English-speaking booth and asked the teller for a train
    ticket from to Chengdu. I have a hearing problem and hear through a Cochlear Implant
    so with all the background noise I couldn’t hear a thing no matter how hard I tried.
    Friendly English speaking Chinese people in the line tried to help with no success. I gave
    up and headed to McDonalds to eat and plan another strategy. At the restaurant I
    bumped into another tourist named Barry who is from England. I told him my frustration
    and he helped me get a ticket to Chongqing. Once in Chongqing I could get a train ticket
    to Chengdu. To my luck Barry was also going to Chongqing to take a boat ride down the
    Yangzee river which meant that we would be on the same train. I haven’t talked to
    another westerner in a long time and I looked forward to sharing stories of our trip. I
    showed Barry where the Shanghai Library was and I did my e-mailing for the day then
    went back to the Conservatory and called it a day.


    41

    The lobby of the Shanghai Urban exhibition hall.

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    I could spend all day here!

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    Urban renewal: Before

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    After

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    Looking out at the People’s Square from inside the Urban Planning Exhibition

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    I love this building!

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    The evil looking Jin Mao building.

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    Oriental Pearl TV Tower.

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    Entrance to the Jin Mao Building.

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    The views from the 51st floor.

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    Smog… Smog… Smog…

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    From within the 51st floor.

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    The interior is as stunning as the exterior.

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    Look at the detail!

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    From inside of the main entrance.

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    Construction site of the Shanghai World Finance centre - yes, they are working on it!


    Friday Feb. 4th

    I woke up in the morning determined to break the food barrier. As I was walking around
    I found a market selling everything from watches to fish. As I was browsing the seafood
    venders I saw one guy with a live large fish on the chopping block. The fish was wiggling
    it’s chopped off tail. A customer told the butcher that she wanted a piece of that live fish.
    The butcher took his machete and poked the squirming fish and saying something like
    “over here?” moving the machete to another spot and asking the question again. Finally
    the customer got the spot she wanted and the butcher sliced the fish in half. I felt sick to
    my stomach because the poor thing was still alive squirming on the chopping block. I
    found a local restaurant that had some food in its menu that looked appetizing. I went in
    and ordered some noodle soup, the server gave me a cup of tea even though didn’t order
    anything to drink preferring bottled juice or water. I went to 3 different restaurants that
    day and felt great. I headed back to the conservatory to go to sleep.


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    This looks like London.

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    These guys are cleaning the grime that builds up on everything after it rains. I had to
    clean my glasses too. Yuck.

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    Someone doing Tai Chi – notice the grime on the leaves.

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    Looks like something from Miami

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    Russian Orthodox church.

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    Unfortunatly Heinz didn’t rule the ketchup world in China, Del Monte’s fruity tooty
    flavored ketchup did… yuck.

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    Plenty of grit.

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    Mexico?

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    I wanted to do more night time shots but high pressure salesmen on the sidewalks kept
    on bugging me.


    Saturday Feb. 5th

    I woke up at 2am feeling very thirsty and regretted I didn’t order much to drink that day.
    I tried to get back to sleep, major pangs of thirst woke up again at 4 am. I tried to go
    outside but the door in the lobby was locked. Swearing to myself I went back to bed and
    lied down trying to myself calm for three hours. The lobby doors were open at 7am; I
    went outside sluggishly walking down Huai Hai Rd. To my surprise the street was
    completely dead, all the stores were closed even the ones that had signs on front saying
    “open 24 hours” this doesn’t seem right for a city of 16 million people. Fortunately I
    found hotel lobby that had a vending machine selling water. After quenching my thirst I
    decided to treat myself like a king until I was on the train to Chongqing. I headed back to
    the train station to find a hotel nearby, that way I could save my energy for the train
    instead of wasting it all on carrying my baggage to the train station. I found a hotel
    offering a suite at Y300 per night. The suite wasn’t spectacular because the bathroom
    need renovating and the bed’s mattress consisted of a sheet about as thick as a sweater
    on top of a slab of wood, at least the suite was heated. I would find out throughout my
    vacation that many midrange hotels in China would have the same layout of furniture
    and beds without springs, I guess it’s to keep the suites as maintenance free as possible,
    I also have the feeling that the hotels might have been run by the government at one
    time. The conservatory and hostels that I stayed at during my vacation had mattress.


    108

    Looking out from the hotel near the train station. Shanghai has policemen on every
    major corner directing pedestrian crossings. Shanghai is the only city in China that I saw
    that had this, the other cities you just walked across one lane at a time… scary.

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    Same intersection at night.

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    This place beats KFC by a country mile. Mmmm good healthy food!

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    It is possible to discover the real China within Shanghai. Sadly places like these are the
    only places in Shanghai that are fully functioning 24 hours a day. The poor construction
    workers work on the construction sites 24 hours a day while the rest keep the shops
    open to serve them.

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    The city has reserved some roads like this one for bicycles, mopeds & motorcycles.

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    The biggest architectural surprise I got was these beautiful buildings covered in shiny
    metal. I want something like this in Edmonton.

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    What!! It’s boarded up? That’s a crime.

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    Classy!

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    Drool…..

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    I love this skyscraper!

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    Oooooooooh!

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    Aaaaaaaaaah!

    I went back to the conservatory to get my bags, when I was leaving the Shanxi
    Train station I bumped into Barry! Small world, even in a city of 16 million people, we
    agreed to meet next day at the McDonalds before going on the train. I grabbed my
    backpack and went back to the hotel near the train station. I took it easy that day, I
    watched some Chinese TV and found China’s version of “survivor” a bunch of people
    living it “rough” on China’s tropical island called Hainan Dao. I bet that the creator of
    survivor isn’t impressed with this rip-off but since it’s in China they can’t do anything
    about it. Just like Rolex can’t do anything about the cheap replicas produced in China,
    same goes for Hollywood and the pirated movies. I looked forward to tomorrow’s train
    ride with Barry. I was also glad to get away from Shanghai because the city was starting
    to depress me, I also hoped that I wouldn’t get anymore-unpleasant experiences like the
    one I had the night before.



    …or at least I hoped…




    Stay tuned for part 2 – my adventure in Chongqing!


    Comments & Questions welcome!
    Edmonton first, everything else second.

  • #2
    WOW! Cool photo Essay Thomas!!!
    President and CEO - Airshow.

    Comment


    • #3
      This is a very cool set of images. I have never seen photos of Shanghi from the perspective of someone who is just walking around on the streets. I personally have never been there, and all of my relatives don't think it important enough to take pictures like this.

      Thanks for sharing.
      Time to grow up.

      Comment

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