Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dumpling Diaries - Part 2

The [Real] City That Never Sleeps

I decided to divide my posts out into themes, to keep things interesting [like I tried to do for Romania but I won't drop the ball this time]! I have soooo much to show and I have really missed blogging. So today, I'll be showing Shanghai's bright and beautiful lights by night! I think I've never seen such intense concentration of lights before; it is really something that takes your breath away. Just incredible.

These first photos were taken from the top of the TV tower, 'The Oriental Pearl'. We visited this on the day I arrived, so needless to say, I was exhausted after much airplaning, bussing, waiting and walking. But it was also the perfect welcome to the city! We got there right around dusk so we were up there as it got dark and saw the lights gradually getting turned on around the city. So beautiful. It was also interesting because visibility wasn't great while the sun was still out, since there's always a layer of smog, but once the lights started turning on from far away it was like watching parts of the city appear. [The smog really wasn't horrible though, it's just like your average hazy + cloudy day in Scotland honestly. Apparently Beijing is much much worse!]

This is an awful picture of me [my position and face seem to say 'Heeeeey ladies, won't you join me in my white van] but I had to include it just to show the glass floor that you can walk on; a clear slab of glass is literally the only thing between you and the bright, blinking abyss. Not the ideal time to have the phrase 'Made in China Made in China' on constant loop through my brain. :) I am, of course, joking... kind of... 

 This is taken from the Bund [still on the same night], which is this really cool historical part of the waterfront [the river is the Pu] built by the French and other Europeans in the early 1900's. Across the river is Pudong, the new financial area, and ten years ago there was nothing but fields and the TV tower there! It's incredible how fast the city grew and will probably continue to grow. You feel really small in Shanghai, between the massively tall buildings and the sheer numbers of people. 

But all that changes if you are a Western tourist, when you start to notice people staring at you, whispering about you and taking secret pictures of you in the metro.. this didn't happen that much in Shanghai since there is such a Western presence [though there were a couple instances], but when we ventured out of the center it was insane! We took a trip-within-a-trip outside Shanghai into 'real' China [a story for another post] and let me just say now I know what fame and celebrity feels like. 

This is East Nanjing Road [Lu], a bit like the Times Square of Shanghai. Although that's not really accurate since EVERY square is like Times Square. Any tall office building in a busy place is guaranteed to have a screen on it just blasting ads or photos. It's funny because everything fun happens at night... street markets, stores open really late, old people just dancing in unison on the streets. This seems to be some kind of established thing because we saw it everywhere we went. There's someone at the front leading the group with a boombox but they all know what they're doing. You don't know if you should join in, or give them privacy, or what. We settled for staring and D made me record a video on my camera like a fool behind a bush.    Not. Weird.

...Anyways my point is, the streets come alive at night, but at the same time they also switch off all the bright advertisements and waterfront lights at 10:30 pm to save energy. How cool is that?! Because you can just imagine how much energy it must consume. And the metro stops running at that time too. That's a bit of a shame, but stuff is always happening at any hour so it's never, ever boring!

We stumbled on this area one night; i think it's just the back part of some fancy apartment complexes with a little lake and, naturally, some searchlights just for fun because no type of light display is too elaborate.

This is Xujahui, the neighborhood where D lives, although "neighborhood" makes you think of something a bit more quaint doesn't it? It's pronounced "soozhahhwey", kind of, I KNOW MY SHAM TRANSLATIONS ARE INSULTING AND I'M SUPER SORRY BUT I'm just so eager to share all my awesome experiences and everything i learned! Also mostly I'm proud of the fact that after two weeks of trying I was finally able to pronounce this word.

Here's a little glimpse of Yu Yuan Gardens which was one of my favorite areas! 

I managed to get lost in the metro station my first night... this was at the Shanghai end of my Edinburgh early morning day [does that make sense?] I wish i could blame it on that but truth be told it was a classic case of me not listening and thinking i know everything and then getting lost. Hmm. So... find yourself abandoned [through your own fault] in one of the biggest metro stations in the largest city in the world, in which you don't speak a word of the language and don't know where you're going? I can check that one off my list... luckily he found me because he's a superhero, can't you tell?

 Classic travel shot. Me cheesing, D being grotesque, and my little friend Awkward Camera Arm following us everywhere we go!


P.S. A wee happy birthday shout-out to my super adorable Mummers/Mutti/Darling/Anne [You may know her by any of these names].


Kelly's Korner said...

Oh wow! Breathtaking!

Happy birthday Anne!

Megan said...

I LOVE your night pictures, incredible! Also that last one of the two of you... hahahh.

That must have been scary as hell lost in the Metro station : / Even in Germany and Italy I get stressed out about only being able to say a couple of clumsy things: I can't even imagine what it'd be like in China.

Looks like you had a great trip!

Yash... said...

Great theme, Jen! Nice pictures and words. It pays to have a superhero to count on.

Now give me my good karma.

Jennifer said...

Wow, that place is stunning at night! I'm so happy you had a fabulous time!! I see your purple lace shirt:)

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