Here in Shanghai, we are good. The Chinese young woman who helped us last June in the Shanghai Train Station when we were on our way to Beijing, came a recent weekend for a visit.
Although Vivi has been living and working (and struggling alone, she reports) about an hour-and-a-half from Shanghai for the last two years, this was the first time she has been anywhere in the city besides the train station.
So we got to introduce her to the Shanghai Metro, People’s Park, the wonderful Shanghai Museum (where we saw among many other things, an 8,000 year old ceramic pot!), the high-end shops of Nanjing Road, and the always colorful Bund.
The four floors of the Shanghai Museum contain galleries for ancient Chinese bronzes, sculptures, paintings, calligraphy, ceramics, furniture, coins, minority nationalities’ art, and more. Going there is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
Go to <www.shanghaimuseum.net> for more information.
After the museum closed at 5 pm, we wandered down the packed with people and shops Nanjing Road.
Then, of course, we walked on the Bund.
We stopped for a great dinner and wandered more. Before we headed to the Metro, we stopped at a McDonald’s on Nanjing. I had a tea, but then it must have been really strong since I didn’t go to sleep until about 2 am. I did get to finish reading a book.
On Sunday, we took Vivi to two lovely Shanghai parks, Kangjian Garden, where the first flowers are starting to bloom, and to Guilin Park, near our SNU campus.
Then we went to Guilin Park near SNU.
That afternoon, Vivi needed to catch the train back to her six-days-a-week job. She is 22, has a bachelor’s degree, two years of working experience, and her English is really good. Like the other Chinese students, she spent all her early years studying. She competed to get into college where she spent her freshman year in class 46 hours a week, and then she needed to study. She got an internship through a teacher’s recommendation, and has been working at PCV companies in marketing and sales (without a commission) for two years. She is outside the city and lonely. In her field now, this situation is likely not to change. Long-distance trucks pass in front of her factory all day long. She now wants to change careers to become a teacher. She will need to study on her own to pass the teacher’s test since she is too old to get into a university. She wants to move back to her village, which is close to Xian (where the Terra Cotta soldiers are), to be near her family and friends. Even if she passes the teacher’s test, she will probably be placed in a rural school far from her home, but her brother-in-law works for the government, so she has a good chance to end up near home.
Vivi is the youngest child of four (two are twins) . Her parents are farmers. They have been selling off their land to developers. They have one piece of property left. None of the children want to be farmers, but they will keep the one piece for the one son, so he will have property; however he is in the army. The farmers here, much like around the world, are giving up their land to developers and hope their children will do well in the new growing economy. Vivi says she knows that she must struggle.
We wish Vivi much luck and a good future.
With our wandering and being tour guides, Barry is perfecting his walking tour itinerary of Shanghai. It’s been raining and in the 30’s and 40’s, but perfect for walking as long as you have boots and an umbrella, which we do. Come join us.
Aloha and zaì jiàn, Renée
Barry and I headed next to Shànghǎi, a city of over 19,000,000 people. Because of its great port location, Shànghǎi was opened to foreign trade by the 1842 Treaty of Nanking and became a center of business between the East and the West. Now this vibrant, cosmopolitan city has been growing in importance as a major shipping center as well as a world financial center.
Street food: we ate it and never got sick (although I don’t eat meat) –and what we chose was always just cooked and hot and tasty.
Some things we did not try: fish parts for sale
We saw beauty everywhere:
One reason we love Shànghǎi is because of its architectural variety. Shànghǎi’s tallest building –actually China’s tallest building at 1,614 feet–is the Shànghǎi World Financial Center. Its trapezoidal hole at its peak makes it look–some people say– a lot like a giant bottle opener.
Originally it had been designed with a circular opening at the peak; however, in the planning stage, many people including the Shànghǎi mayor expressed dismay that the designed looked too much like the rising sun of the Japanese flag, and so the shape became what you see.
Another well-known structure is the Oriental Pearl Tower.
At the time it was finished in 1994, the Oriental Pearl Tower, a TV tower, was the tallest structure in China – 1,535 feet high. Its name is taken from the Tang Dynasty poem “Pipa Song,” by Bai Juyi, which is about the sprinkling sound of a pipa instrument– like pearls falling on a jade plate — although what we heard from the base was traffic sounds.
Another of the most recognized places in Shànghǎi is the Bund, a fantastic walkway along the Huangpu River. On one side, you can see the stately architecture of European design; on the other side the modern buildings of the changing China.
The word “bund” comes from an Anglo-Indian word that means “embankment along a muddy waterfront” which was a good description when the first British trading company established an office there in 1846. However, it soon became the epitome of elegance for this city of trade and is now a wonderful walkway for tourists and locals.
Tourist boats and working vessels navigate the Huangpu River.
We loved the Bund and watching people.
- Dad and child
and at night–
Shanghai is a good place to eat.
Shanghai is known for its shopping opportunities. At the South Bund Soft Spinning Market, you can buy tailor-made clothes, silks (real and not), and famous brands (also some real and some not).
Cathy was able to order a beautiful outfit for her daughter’s wedding this fall. The price was reasonable, the dress made to fit her, and the material, design, and workmanship beautiful.
Shànghǎi has wonderful museums and many events:
Some pieces in the Shànghǎi Museum date back to 4,800 B.C. !!
Not only are the museums interesting, modern sports are available too.
The Shànghǎi parks are beautiful and interesting.
We’d had a great time in Shànghǎi. Then we needed to make our way to Beijing. The train seemed to be the best choice for us.
Then Barry and I headed off to Beijing on an over-night hard seat train that took 14-hours. Our train covered about 665 miles to go from Shànghǎi to Beijing; the cost was $27 each in a clean if not exactly comfortable –especially after about 10 hours– train. Tickets sell out quickly. We were lucky to have assigned seats; some people didn’t.
Because we arrived at the train station two hours before departure, we were able to get seats in the waiting room.
- Barry and I had seats across the aisle from each other–six people on each side. Most of the passengers were students going home for the summer. We made it to Beijing, but we can now recommend taking soft-seat, fast trains.
- We love Shànghǎi, and I’ve been offered a teaching job there in the spring, so we are likely to continue to explore this city. Come visit.
- Zài Jiàn and Aloha, Renée