Sunday, November 12, 2006

Shanghai Zhongwu (上海中午)

"A famous historical and cultural city"
"A paradise for shoppers"

For me, what stuck out... Probably the beggars. I have seen only 1 in Beijing and to be honest I thought that the government just rounded them up and put them out of sight. Perhaps the further from Beijing you are, the lighter the hand of the central government?

But I did like the city. Safe. Vibrant. Interesting. Functional. Cheap. The contrast is, I suppose the stark reminder off where you are:

Rubble and Skyscrappers

The city has a lot of parks and good places to walk. I spent some time watching the Xiang Qi (象棋) or Elephant Chess in ZhongShan Gong Yuan. A man invited me to play but I couldn't as I didn't know how. I'm going to learn now though as it would've been really great to give him a game! It is a very common thing to see the old men playing cards / chess in the park like this. It was nice to be invited though!

Timeless Beauty

Something I really wanted to do was experience the city by night as you almost always see what I suppose are now cliche pictures of the lights. I have this thing about getting the same photos as I have seen in the past so here are my versions.

Shanghai by Night

I had great fun on this day in Shanghai mostly due to the completely random conversations. Firstly a beggar who I tried to explain why I don't give money to beggars out of principal. Then a random student who wanted to practice English. Then the art students who wanted me 'just to have a look at their exhibition'. Then the numerous hawkers on the Bund. Then the chess players in the park. Then a long conversation with a guy who shared my birth year who was selling large paintings on the Bund. Oh and finally an Australian traveller in the Youth Hostel. I will never meet any of them again. I will never know what their lives held after the point I met them. I do not know if they even exist, really. All I know is what they told me and what I told them. Maybe the guy, my age, on the water front will grow rich and one day visit the UK. Maybe he'll starve if no-one buys his paintings. I hope it's the former.


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