Seeing of course is believing… a picture after all is worth a thousand words. I have talked about so many things and tried my best to paint a picture of China for you with my words. Today I am going to include some actual photos so you can see for yourself 🙂
Bikes are still very popular and affordable. Cars are outrageously priced and out of most people’s budget. So many of the transportation options are on 2 wheels -bikes, electric and pedal, mopeds and motorcycles. Often you will see 3 wheel bikes piled high with recyclable materials. There is not a recycle program like at home, so for those willing to find, collect and transport the items they can exchange it for money. Some people have their stake out area and wait for people to bring them items while others will hunt through recycle garbage containers on the street. Cardboard and styrofoam is the favourite and occasionally large water bottle jugs tied into bundles like bunches of grapes. This picture shows only a small pile. Sometimes they are much higher… the tallest maybe 12 feet high. They must be so heavy I don’t know how they can pedal. The best we saw was a large pile with the man’s wife perched on the top. She was nestled in like in queen perched on her throne. I wish I had my camera that day!
On my walk home I often see the river fishermen. The nets are made from bamboo poles and netting. They occasionally lift them up to remove their catch. I don’t know how they do it. They are so large and must be incredibly heavy. I haven’t gone close enough to see what they catch. Maybe the turtles the older men sell in the large bowls along side of the road at the end of this path. In the background you can see some of the stunning architecture of Shanghai. On the right is a hotel that looks like it has a spaceship perched on top. The buildings beside the ‘spaceship’ is an apartment complex nicknamed the lipstick buildings because they look like tubes of lipstick.
Speaking of architecture Shanghai has amazing buildings, each more unique than the last. Office towers and hotels are not the only interesting buildings here, apartments are unique too. At night many of the buildings light up and have a dazzling light show as they change colour or patterns. Some even have giant TV screens on them showing ads for a variety of things. From the hallway by the elevator we have this view of Thumb Plaza (where the large ‘rubics cubes’ are). A short walk from our apartment is this large plaza with some restaurants, bars, shops and the large grocery store. In the distance we can see the “Bottle Opener”the tall building with the opening at the top. That is the World Financial Tower 101 floors into the sky. Near the top there are 3
observation decks to look up, down and across the city. The floor of the one deck is fitted with very small glass tiles to look down at the tops of neighbouring buildings and the road below. To the right of that you can just make out the ball of the Pearl Tower, another of the most interesting and iconic buildings that make up Shanghai’s skyline.
We went to the fabric market that was full of Westerners looking for deals and made to order clothes. Many modern and fashionable designs were on display to catch your eye and draw you in. The shops were long and narrow and full of fabric in a variety of
colours and patterns. Each shop specializes in one fabric -from wool for suits, leather, linen, cotton, silks and jersey knits. One shop we passed caught my eye due to the sparkly nature of its fabric. Many of the locals wear clothes with some sort of sparkle and glitter. This reminded me of a shop for dancers or figure skaters to get their costumes made… or even drag queens, to have their evening gowns made! Who else would wear so much glitter and sparkle? Inside there was a local lady getting measured I wonder what fabric she picked? It is so hard to decide what to pick sometimes as the colours,
textures and fabrics overwhelm you. It is a definite place for all 5 senses. I have commissioned a few pieces and I head back to get them today -can’t wait. Now the hard part is going to be to stay away and not spend all my money there! They are master copiers too, so you can bring a photo from a fashion magazine, a favourite item from home or something they specialize in and have them make it. They measure you so it is made just for you -no worries about getting pants hemmed, taken in or adjusted all for about the same cost as you buy off the rack at home. I certainly am getting spoiled! It’s a dream come true for someone like me who is short and can never find pants that fit right. Today a fellow teacher is going to show me the best place to buy silk for cheap. She buys what she likes and then takes it to a tailor to get it made into tops, skirts and dresses. For someone who isn’t a ‘fashionista’ I can see the draw and addiction that can easily stem from the visits to the market. Luckily it is about 30-40 minutes from here by foot than subway, and you always have to return to pick up items in a week. This may curb me from going too often.
I write a lot about the oddities you see walking down the street with the hopes it will always be interesting and not blend into the background of everyday life. From the woman with the basket of live chickens and another basket with eggs in Zhejaijiao last weekend to the bikes with 3 or more people and the crazy combinations at the grocery store.
I sometimes miss things and really need to carry a camera at all times, although things happen so fast I may still miss them. I worry sometimes they may think it odd that someone pulls out a camera and takes shots of things they find normal or common place, but then I think many of them act as if they are on a fashion shoot for Vogue or something. They mimic fashion model poses and smile at the camera. Would they care about a Westerner taking pics in the grocery store or on the street? Would they even notice? The best thing we saw lately at the grocery store was the many ice cream flavours ready for summer. You have your typical chocolate and vanilla, but then there is mango and other fruit flavours too. There are a few that I am not sure what the flavour is and not quiet brave enough to give them a try after seeing this green popsicle. Remember I am in China so of course it is not the expected lime, or even kiwi, but a green “pea” popsicle! Mmm I like peas I think it will make a good flavour for a popsicle! Blahuck.
Shanghai is definitely an interesting place that is a mix of old world tradition and new modern invention. I wonder if I will suffer culture shock when we return home this summer. Life will be so ordinary, boring. Things will work as expected, no one will be waiting for you to walk by so they can open the door for you, and things on the street will not be interesting or gross. Walking on the sidewalks will be safe and we won’t have to compete for space from people, bikes and motorcycles. A life less ordinary…
Stay tuned for more next time…