Given that I couldn’t blog while in China the details may be a bit thin here because I can’t remember what I did a fortnight ago.
When I arrived in Shanghai I was given the option of train or Maglev. Since I thought the Maglev sounded expensive (and possibly like it would take me to Mars) I took the train. It took 3 hours to make it to my homestay on the other side of town, changing about 17 times.
The next day I took a short 1 hour trip in to town with ONE HUNDRED MILLION other people. I had just sat down in the park when a group of people approached and started making conversation. This is not unusual when travelling. They took me to a tea house.
However at the end of the demonstration I was presented with a bill for Y450. Hmm. I went to the museum and looked at some Ming vases.
I worked out that I’d lost $80 at the tea house, so I had a cry then formulated a half-plan to get my money back. I searched the park, knowing it was unlikely I’d find the group that took me to the teahouse, and not knowing what I’d do if I found them. So it was on to Plan B – find the teahouse. It was down several streets, and after walking for what seemed like the time it took me to get there the first time I started to wonder if I’d lost it. But at that point I looked around and I was nearly in front of it. I couldn’t see the owner, but did see that the lock on the door to the demonstration room was unusually secure. What to do?
As soon as I’d taken this the woman came running out from a door somewhere to my left. I had no plan.
“Give me my money back!” I blurted.
“Come inside, sit down, let’s discuss this.”
“I will not sit down! I want my money!”
“At least let me keep half!”
“No! I want my money back!”
“But I’m poor!”
“So am I! I’ll go to the police!”
“Ok, at least let me have the service charge” (Y30)
A deal was struck, and I recovered most of my cash. A damn close run thing!
After that I decided I deserved a treat and went to THE BAKERY.
I had a bun. Mae West was right! From there I went window shopping, which is very easy in Shanghai.
After avoiding spending my money I had walked to the Bund – Shanghai’s riverside formerly controlled by foreign powers.
I returned to my homestay, in the distant suburbs.
The next day I went to the French Concession. The whole area is very art deco. Walking from the subway I came across a park filled with oldies. One woman had set up a huge outdoor speaker. Some women danced. A man painted calligraphy on the pavers with water.
I tried to find the propaganda poster museum. Lonely Planet lies again! Sun Yat Sen’s house charged an entry fee, but I did find this:
Not much to see from the outside, but inside is a good museum.
It’s not too biassed, but does have a lot of letters etc. on display that aren’t translated. After going through there, admiring the waxworks of Mao and co. being communist, I wandered about.
Then I found another museum.
Here you can see the actual living room where Mao talked politics with visitors! Upstairs they have exhibits on what Mao did in Shanghai, and a bit about his son, who dies in the Korean War. There are some illuminating artefacts.
And finally – the greatest exhibit from any museum ever.
Are you ready?
Here it is:
Mao’s undies. How much more does it show us of Mao, the man? Priceless.