Saturday, June 21, 2008

Shanghai - Day 1 - Friday 20 June 2008

I started the day with a Chinese breakfast at the hotel – dimsums, fried vegetables, noodles. Then I walked to the conference venue to check out how far it is from the hotel – only about 20 minutes. Then I found the closest metro station and was pleasantly surprised at how clean, efficient and cheap it is – and easy to use. I went to People's Square to go to the Shanghai Museum.

Shanghai museum, People's Square

As I left the metro two local girls starting chatting with me to practice their English. They were nice enough but I heeded the warning on the card in my hotel room – “Follow no strangers to the fun places” – and declined their invitation to go somewhere with them. I got increasingly fed up during the day with people wanting to talk to me and I told one particularly insistent guy that I’m from South America and only speak Spanish.

The museum was excellent and I spent almost 3 hours there. I was surprised to see everyone taking photos of everything. So I joined in.

Bronzework at Shanghai museum

Dog and duck bronzeworks

Then I walked down E Nanjing Rd – a pedestrian mall – to the Bund. Along the way, every second person wanted to know whether I required a watch, a bag, a t-shirt or maybe a dvd. I was getting a bit peckish, so I bought what looked like a Danish pastry, but it was savoury – I’m not sure what was in it.

E Nanjing Rd, looking towards the Bund

The Bund (embankment) is where all the international crowd hung out in the 1920s. A very nice promenade along the river (where I became a tourist attraction – I was just sitting down enjoying my fresh coconut and reading my guidebook when some Asian tourists sat either side of me and got photos taken), and lots of imposing European style buildings. The telescopes (for looking across the river) play “We wish you a merry Christmas” when in use. (The first music I was greeted with in China was a musak version of “Last Christmas” at customs.)

HSBC building on the Bund

I went to a little coffee shop inside the HSBC building that I wouldn’t have known existed except my guidebook told me about it. Then as I was further exploring the Bund, it started raining, so I decided a river tour was in order. I particularly enjoyed the warning sign on the side of the boat.

No striding (running ok)

Pudong on the other side of the river is very different to the Bund – it is a very new development. I had intended to go across and go up one of the towers for the view of the city, but it was too smoggy to be worth it. Maybe another day.

Pudong skyline

And then I made my way back to the hotel, which is quite a way from the centre of town (but close to where the conference is next week), so that took a while. I had dinner in the hotel – I forewent the goose foot in favour of tofu and wild mushrooms. A tiring but excellent day.