“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” - Lao Tzu
Monday, 8 November 2010
Shanghai Museum, Chinese Tea, and The Bund
(Click on this panorama of The Bund to see a larger version.)
Ok now that I had my little culture shock moment arriving in China, I was ready the next day to roll up my sleeves and tackle it head on. So I jumped in a taxi to head for the Shanghai museum.
As soon as I jumped out of the cab I was greeted by the scene of a man running in front of me flying a kite. I scrambled for my camera and grabbed the shot just in time. It was going to be a good day.
The museum itself was amazing. Artifacts dating back thousands of years, all in seemingly perfect condition. It's a beautiful museum with an even more beautiful collection.
After the museum I wandered towards the river, to a famous promenade called The Bund.
This was the Shanghai I had imagined before arriving here, only it was much more than I expected. Shanghai is an amazing fusion of old and new, Eastern and Western cultures, and nothing captures it more spectacularly than The Bund.
On my side of the river was the old financial district - a long road of huge majestic stone buildings that could fool you into thinking you were in 1920's New York or London. These days they are the homes to exotic designer-label clothes stores and the like, but they have been maintained faithfully to the point where you expect the cars to morph into horses and carriages in any moment.
Then on the other side of the river is the new financial district, a futuristic scene straight out of The Jetsons dominated by a huge sci-fi tower and flanked by skyscrapers, some of which turn into huge 50-story video screens when the sun goes down.
And the Huangpu River divides the two sides, equally busy with tourist ferries featuring garish flashing lights and no-frills freight ships which are the lifeblood of this famous port city.
While wandering around The Bund I was befriended by a couple of Chinese ladies who were on holiday in Shanghai from Beijing. They were on their way to a Tea tasting ceremony and invited me along.
It was remarkable to get an insight into the science and craft behind Chinese Tea, and I got to sample some very interesting ones.