Another of those exotic ports (see Mumbai), the name evokes visions of tea, silk, opium and all of the riches, politics and struggle that accompanies such lucrative trade.
Of course to us, the first question was simply 'where is our hostel?'. The place, once located, turned out to be pretty swish - as we'd expect for a whopping ? per night. Each. Our first afternoon in the city took us to the famous 'Bund'. Basically a string of grand old buildings behind the waterfront, it seems that most people were there for the view in the other direction - the modern cityscape of the Pudong district across the water. An unexpected sight was that of a circular rainbow shining above the city. We weren't sure what was going on and supposed that it could be the end of the world... Karnit's attempts to draw the others' attention to this phenomena resulted in many blank stares. Well, we thought it was pretty neat, anyway.
It wasn't long before we'd made our way over there too, hopping the ferry and strolling through the forest of skyscrapers with their manicured gardens and wide, clean streets. Some say that Shanghai
No Jinmao for you!
Thus began Ben's temporary obsession with Jinmao tower. Formerly the 4th highest building in the world, it has since been eclipsed by it's next door neighbour, the Shanghai World Financial Center. Still, at 88 floors above one of Asia's great cities, the observation deck seemed worth the effort. Twice he returned to the impossible tower, once running out of time due to an error on the subway and once emerging from the station to find the top in the clouds and a 'no visibility' sign on the reception counter. Thus defeated, the dream was abandoned...for now.
Let's fight western imperialism!
One of Shanghai's less publicised attractions is the Propaganda Poster Art Center. As the name implies, the hidden museum (it's located in an apartment block basement with no signage, and isn't exactly easy to find) contains many of those old Maoist posters - Tall, muscle bound Chinese in tractors defeating the entire US Army, students thrilled to be relocated into the agricultural countryside and (naturally) a smiling Chairman Mao standing alongside effigies of Lenin and Marx before an adoring crowd. Brilliant! The guy has rescued thousands of these posters (which were routinely destroyed as party policy changed) and even sells them for a few hundred $ a piece (we didn't bite, but one collecter who was there seemed ready to spend a small fortune).
Continuing our communist kick, we also visited the Site of the 1st national congress of the CCP. As one might imagine, the propaganda machine was cranking out the hits at this free museum / political shrine and includes a reconstruction of the meeting featuring a full cast of wax figures. Just downstairs from this we visited the actual room where the congress
The joys of travel
Our exit from Shanghai was pretty hectic, as no one had mentioned that our onward train left from Shanghai South station. Like fools we turned up at the main station before being turned away and having a mad dash through the city's metro system to get to the right place. We did eventually get there with about 5 minutes to spare. Phew. Back on the move...