Shanghai is such a wonderful place and so exciting that I am just struggling with words. Normally, I need to sleep 8-9 hours at the minimum to feel OK, but this city has so much energy, that even I got some from its pulsing and after 5-6 hours of sleep I jump out of bed fully awake and with a huge smile ready to go. And now, although 1.30 a.m., I am still not sleepy...
The city is absolutely full with gigantic skyscrapers - imaginative, nice and not too crowded ones, the whole town has a great feel. Roads cross each other sometimes in 5 different levels and one can easily drive during the Friday afternoon rush hours. No rush hour.
First day we visited the Jade temple, the Shanghai museum and the Yu garden.
Although I am not keen on museums in general, the Shanghai Museum is a wonderful building and are great collections inside. Calligraphy, paintings, porcelain, sculptures, bronze, furniture, ethnic clothes - just the right quantity from everything, smartly displayed and with a great audio-guide. I loved the clothes of minorities the most - although was sad to see Tibet there.
I was up at the TV tower, the highest in Asia and the 3rd largest in the world - 468 m high. As far as you could see, just offices, housing blocks, all brand new. In addition to its 4 subway lines, they plan to build another 8 (!) by the 2010 world expo. Also, the Shanghai-Lhasa train line has just been finished - the highest rail in the world, where the cabins will be like in the airplanes and passengers get extra oxygen above certain height. The bullet train to the airport is already in use, it only takes 7 minutes to get there from town with the 430 km/h speed -of course, the fastest in the world.
In the evening we visited the performance of the Shanghai acrobats:
Now our group splits into two - so far 20 people did the Hong Kong-Shanghai journey and half of us (exactly 5 man, 5 women) will leave for a limited, 5 day program (Xian and Beijing only). The other 10 (again, equal man and woman, including me) will move on to another two week trip to Beijing. In addition, seven new people will join us, who booked only this second trip. Two woman and 5 men, so first in my Explore traveling history, there will be more male than female in the group. Unfortunately the nicer ones leave and the complaining ones, headed by the stupid girl will come along. This woman is unbelievable - every day she finds tons of reasons to get upset. If we have dinner organized, that's the problem, if we have not, that's wrong. She is always looking for a reason to complain. She mentioned once that she has a boyfriend, but I just cannot imagine that any sensible person could spend any time with her on a voluntary basis.
We do have some interesting elder couples. One of them, for example, met when the girl was 13 and the boy was 17 and are together ever since. There is another couple, who met in high school, but spent 3 years apart during college and they wrote to each other every single day (!) during those 3 years. Even now, above 60, they hold each others' hand with a peaceful smile whole day. They are just amazing. I asked them if they have a son, who inherited this romantic nature and yes, they have and yes, he is exactly like dad, but unfortunately just got married a few weeks ago
We left Shanghai and travel in "small cities" as local call for example Suzhou which "only" has 6 million inhabitants. First we stopped by in Zhouzhuang, full with charming water canals, before moving onto Suzhou, which is UNESCO listed town for its wonderful gardens. The four elements of private gardens - water, plants, rocks and buildings - are arranged seemingly random, but of course are the careful works of famous garden architects. Individual pieces of rock are displayed as pieces of works of art created by the forces of nature.
We also visited a silk factory and saw how a duvet is produced all the way from silk warms.
As far as photography is concerned I am going through an emotional crisis. In addition to my good old friend, the Canon SLR that traveled on all continents with me, I brought my new little digital camera with me. I am amazed, how many times I use that one - for example in low light situations, when the SLR gives up, the little digital one takes amazingly sharp pictures. It is also great for people shooting, or when one needs to take several shots to get one right (e.g. dancing performance).
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