Where's Tai?

"And I still haven't found what I'm looking for"

Day 46-48: Shanghai – Expo, art and big buildings July 8, 2010

Filed under: Travelling — Tai @ 12:59 am

expo

Another cool city.  Much bigger and more modern than Beijing.  Have about 19 million people.  Got a hotel right down on East Nanjing st which is the busiest shopping street in China.  Also a short walk to The Bund (a promenade along the river that looks out on all the tall buildings on the other side).  In the morning 100s of mostly old people get up and do taichi or other forms of katas some with swords or fan.  It’s also quite popular to do ballroom dancing in the streets.  The oldies certainly keep busy. 

Shanghai is also known for its unusually building-scape.  The Pearl communications tower is the most recognisable.  It also has Shanghai Financial Building, the  second or third biggest building in the world.  492m, behind the Taipei tower.  That’s 200m taller than the Eiffel tower, 50ms taller than the KL towers.  Has some good views and glass floors over Shanghai.

What surprised me was the art I found there.  Taicing street is a warren small allies full of art galleries, small cafes, boutique shops and photographic galleries.  50 Moshangan is a reformed factory area that is littered with galleries.  The majority is rubbish but there are a few standout artists.

Had a new scam tried on me today.  China is pretty safe, but you do run into small scams.  At least 4-5 times a day I get girls walking up wanting to talk and then take me for tea at a “special tea shop”.  Thought it was my charisma, but no.  BTW, it is actually a tea shop they take you too, but it has astronomical prices.  You also get the fake bag guys walking up to you.  Most of the time I just speak Spanish and they get confused and leave.

.

However today I was walking through a park and a Chinese couple were trying to take a picture of themselves.  They then asked me to take a picture of them, which all seemed innocent.  So I did, and then it was the way they struck up conversation afterwards seemed too enthusiastic.  Felt funny so eventually made up an excuse and left.  But I moved away and watched them for a while.  They stayed in the same place and they carried on doing the same things only to tourist.  Couldn’t work out their angle (probably a variation of a tea room scam).  It was true, I felt more trusting in the beginning of a young couple, than the individuals that approach you in the street.

Spent a whole day at the Expo.  It was a little disappointing.  I really did not know what an Expo is, other than a world event.  Worked out it was 3 things.  1. A way to stay in the good graces of the host country (specifically China).  So if you wanted to maintain good trade relations with China you needed to show your love by spending shit loads of money on a stand. 2.   Even though it has a theme for the expo (future cities, better cities), realistically the pavilions are promotional pieces for each different country and little else.  So this is like a travel show without all the brochures. 

3. This world expo, was for the Chinese not the world.  Small things like ticketing offices only had signs in Chinese gave the impression that it was not really for foreigners.  I would say well less than 20% of the attendees are foreigners. 

However in saying that I still enjoyed wandering around the massive complex.  Over 4 kilometres long and 1 wide.  Was some amazing architecture.  I liked the Spanish, Moroccan, NZ and Chinese.  However there were huge queues to get into some with an hour or more waiting.  Some countries had prepared videos so that’s what created the big queues.  Others basically had pictorial or artistic representations of their countries.  I liked the Mexicans pavilion because it was more like an art gallery of contemporary Mexican artists. 

There were performances through out the day.  I watched the Tahitian dances, Korean drummers…  The USA stand was like a universal studio type experience.  You walk through 3 different theatres and watch Disney type emotive presentations about better cities. 

Then I went to look at the NZ pavilion.  I liked it.  Built like a Sloped stadium.  In front is a canoe being carved by the boys from Te Puia.  When you enter in there is NZ paraphernalia. A remake of the coat racks at a NZ school… And a walk takes you through different everyday NZ situations.  There are lots of screens along the way which show short films of New Zealand everyday life.  Just snapshots.  Is pretty cool.  When you get to the top, you step out into lots of greenery and native plants.  You wander down and the last piece of flora you see is a huge pohutakawa tree.  Not sure how it was brought over or if it was fake.  Then I saw the group perform – Te Whanau a Apanui.  They were great and really drew the crowds.  They did 30 min sets, ending with getting the Chinese up to do the haka or poi. It kept the crowd engaged.  They were doing this 4 or 5 times a day.  They spotted me in the crowd and got me up to do the haka.  Then I went back stage and spent about 4 hours with them.  It was great to meet whanau so far from home.  They fed me and entertained me.  Had some good intellectual discussions. 

shanghai

They were here for 3-4 months before being replaced by another group.  It was good for the soul seeing them.

When I exited Shanghai, I took the Maglev fast train to the airport,  Very cool.  Is a train the float on magnets, so very smooth and very fast.  We did 30 kms in less than 8 mins.  They get very upset when the train is 5-10 seconds late.  It got up to 430 km/h.  The cars on the motorway next to the track looked like they were standing still when we started to accelerate.  It was like 3-4 mins of acceleration and another 3-4 minutes braking.

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