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Showing posts from May, 2010

Chinese nappies

As we waited in an Expo queue ahead of us was a child perched on his father's shoulders. Nothing remarkable there, except for the big gap in his pants revealing an unclothed bum. Yesterday in a metro station we saw parents holding their child over a rubbish bin as urine streamed out of the gap in her pants. Both front and back are open. They don't seem to use nappies here. How they know when their child is about to void their bladder or bowels or get them somewhere suitable in time, I don't know. I've heard that toilet training is far easier though. Not for Alex, sorry.

Canal pleasures

The hotel's buffet breakfast had baked beans. And watermelon. Alex was so happy! My stomach has ceased to tell me if it's hungry or not. It doesn't know what time zone it is in. We are in this holiday state where the only times that matter are openings, closings and airport departures. Shanghai shophouses as seen from the hotel I love Chinese gardens and the best of them are supposed to be found in Suzhou, about an hour out of Shanghai. I really wanted to visit this garden and canal city back in 2007, but we ran out of time. So today we planned to catch a train there. The subway took us from East Nanjing Road station to Shanghai's main railway station via People's Square. The train was packed, the stations crowded. The Chinese passengers just push their way in and I have to be careful that Alex isn't squashed. Major Chinese railway stations can be scary places, with huge hordes of rough mannered rural migrants milling around. On this sunny day it ju

See Shanghai in a day

If you want to see Shanghai quickly, just visit the Shanghai Planning Exhibition. They have a truly amazing recreation of urban Shanghai in miniature with thousands upon thousands of model buildings. Even the expo was rendered in tiny scale. Shanghai is a relatively young city for China. Much of the Shanghai we see today only dates from the 1830's onwards, when the city became a treaty port and there was an influx of Europeans. The next major architectural upheaval was, in a sense, when it returned to a treaty port, but on Chinese terms, the city becoming a free trade zone with the science fiction architecture of Pudong rising out of the paddy fields. The photos of old Shanghai at the exhibition make for fascinating viewing, but it's best to have read some of the city's history before visiting. Some of the other levels are less compulsive viewing, more advertisements than windows into the future for the city. Straight after leaving the exhibition we descended unde

On the menu

On tonight's menu was a selection entitled shattered sheep spine or packages of small cock . We could have ordered sheep's head stew as well if we so wanted. Disappointingly for you readers we decided against eating any of these dishes or contracting some prion disease. Instead it was fried diced chicken and vegetables spiced with cumin, an fully flavoured lamb stew on round bread and rice flavoured with carrot and lamb (pilaf). We had gone looking for the same Uighur restaurant, Xin Jiang Yi Li Can Ting, as we dined at in 2007, but ended up along Yunan street and this unknown Uighur restaurant instead. The selections of the cuisine that we dare try taste really good, even Alex was wolfing it down, despite the spices. After yesterday's exhausting Expo exploration we didn't leave the hotel until close to midday. Alex had returned to bed and had a long morning nap. It was wet and miserable looking outside and not particularly conducive to big expeditions. Instead

Expo's star attraction

It's been 22 years since I attended Brisbane's Expo '88. That was one of the best experiences of my life, so I was looking forward to experiencing Shanghai's more extravagant and far more expensive version. Did it meet my expectations? View from our hotel room The first problem was buying tickets. We left our hotel around 10 am, stopping by a couple hole in the wall places nearby the hotel to purchase a breakfast of oily fried Chinese pancakes and spring rolls. The hotel concierge has told us that we could buy tickets from a nearby convenience store. No luck. The same result at a post office; sold out was what they said. So we walked up to Nanjing Road, the famous pedestrian strip in downtown Shanghai. The Expo volunteers pointed us to 80 (or 18?) Nanjing Road. But that was the opposite end of the long road from People's Square, where metro line 8 to the Expo departed. We gave up and decided to purchase the tickets from the Expo site itself. Bags are