Posts Tagged With: culture

CBBH Photo Challenge: KNOBS AND KNOCKERS

Today is a public holiday, Labour Day (May 1), here in China and we are off school. I was catching up on reading some blogs and came across Marianne’s blog (East of Malaga) that I often read and follow. She posted a challenge on Knobs and Knockers. I am fascinated by ornate and colourful doors, but especially since I saw and photographed this door from a church in Havana, Cuba in 2008.

Havana Cuba, 2008

Havana Cuba, 2008

Here in China many doors on older style and traditional buildings are bright red with gold or brass lion head handles. Here is a collection from our recent trip to Beijing.

Each door seems to tell a story with its worn handles, dirt and faded crackle paint. I think that is what makes each unique and interesting to photograph.

Check out Marianne’s blog to see her beautiful examples and photography from Europe.

As always stay tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

The theme from WordPress this week is culture.

As promised here is some more pictures from Beijing from our recent trip. These were taken at the park at the Temple of Heaven. Many Chinese people get out and gather in parks or in the central courtyards of building complexes; young and old… older ladies can be seen line dancing, younger children run, play and ride bikes. It is one thing I notice about our culture vs the Chinese culture. We stay isolated in our houses watching TV while each evening music, laughter and voices float up to our building as many members of our compound gather and meet in the central courtyard. Enjoy the following pictures from Beijing of Chinese culture with games, conversation and fun…

Be sure to check out my post from earlier today with more pictures from the Temple of Heaven and local culture.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, Photography, post a week, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Hell of a Hike: Beijing – Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven is another major tourist site to see while visiting Beijing after the Great Wall and Forbidden City. Many others may venture to the Summer Palace and this gem may be missed. It was my favourite place over the Forbidden City and after the Wall of course. It was not something we had planned to see and was put as a maybe if we have time. A co-worker casually mentioned it and if they had not said anything we may have overlooked this altogether.

This was our last day in Beijing after a whirlwind of 3 nights and 4 days. After all the walking, hiking, cooler temps and some pollution problems we debated about going, but decided to suck it up and head out to the Temple since it was close to the hotel and we may not get back to Beijing, so best make the most of it. After a few metro stops we exited the trains and were not sure where to go. Generally major attractions have signs posted to point you in the right direction. A few other tourists had the same issue and we followed each other around. Eventually we found ourselves on the street and a posted street map gave us the direction we needed. We found ourselves at the main gate and paid our admission. The admission was more than posted on the Travel website we read. We worried we may be getting ripped off since the woman was adamant it was 40RMB not 20 (about $6.00). Luckily we paid the higher price since it afforded us entrance into the main attractions and not just the park.

Soon after we entered the gate we noticed older local residents playing games and chatting in the sun. A small pavilion had wall to wall people playing shuttle cox (small weighted feathers that must be kept in motion; like hacky sacks that were popular few years back), cards, majong, badminton and dancing. Some ladies were knitting and making crafts which they offered for sale to the passing tourists. The energy and happiness filled the space. No one blinked an eye as a few tourists stopped to snap photos, although a few modest people would turn away or cover their faces.

From there we saw these men playing this hoop game. They would catch the hoop around their necks. As we took pause to watch they gave one to John to throw. After a bad first throw he quickly caught on. They returned the hoops and John was a natural and caught each of them! They were very impressed and clapped and smiled.

Our next stop was the Hall of Good Harvests. A proud grandma and small boy followed me up the steps and he kept saying HI and then mimicked me taking photos. He laughed and would do it again and babbled to me in Chinese. Inside the main building was quite impressive. The detail and colours were dazzling on the round 3 tier building. Inside the detail was just as impressive. This building was used to pray for good weather and good harvests. Animals would also be used for sacrifice and models of where they were held was also part of the display.

Hall of Good Harvests

Hall of Good Harvests

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Next we moved on to the Imperial Vault of Heaven. Similar style as the Hall of Good Harvest, but only 1 tier and smaller in circumference. The tablets used for worship are housed here. Also an echo wall was said to be within the circular walls, although we did not find it, or get it to work for us.

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Last stop before we left was the Circular Mound Altar. It reminded me of a 3 tier wedding cake with its white stone and ornate decorations and carvings. The beauty held its tortured past as this was where the animal sacrifices would take place here each winter solstice.

View from the Circular Mound

View from the Circular Mound

The Temple of Heaven was my one of my favourite places partly because of the beautiful and peaceful gardens, but also the fewer tourists and more locals doing what they do everyday. It was a glimpse into their lives, culture and traditions. Gone were the pushing and rude crowds all vying for position to get a picture and take a look. Despite its history a calm and peaceful atmosphere surrounded us. Watching the locals play games and be so welcoming and friendly by inviting to join in was priceless.

Be sure to read some of my previous posts on Beijing… which was a whirlwind trip where we fit in a lot in a short time; a real hell of a hike!

Want to see more pictures of the local flair? Stay tuned later as I post on Word Press’ theme Culture…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, everyday occurances, post a week, travel, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Hell of a Hike: The Forbidden City

This is part 3 of our recent trip to Beijing.

After 2 early starts and many miles put on our tired and weary feet we had a later start to our day as we planned to do a self guided tour of the Forbidden City. After another breakfast of coffee and pastry from the bakery next door we set off to the metro stop which was conveniently right in front of our hotel. After our walk to Tian ‘anmen Square, the long way round on Friday, we decided the metro was a better option. The Beijing Metro is extensive and covers large ground. 2 RMB (about 30 cents) to most stops is a super cheap way to travel.

After 2 short stops we arrived at our destination and when we excited the subway, police and security were blocking access to Tian ‘amen Square . We assumed it was due to the large crowds that were already congregating there. We were on the opposite side to the Forbidden City, so back in the metro we exited on the opposite side of the road and joined the crowds pushing towards the entrance. We hoped we wouldn’t be held back here.  Surprisingly the crowds moved quickly and we were inside the grounds. Queues were in different locations and we were not sure exactly where to wait to buy our admission tickets. No one was barring our entrance, so we pushed on through various gates after snapping a few photos. Finally we came to a location where tickets were being presented. With broken English a fellow directed us where to go. Many agent windows were open and the process was slow going. Luckily a gentleman came and pointed to an empty wicket and with some hesitation we moved forward. Luckily a new window opened and we got our tickets within minutes and were inside the next set of grounds.

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During the Ming and Qing Dynasties the Forbidden City was home for 24 Emperors.  It is relatively new (1368-1644) not as old or ancient as I would have thought. Our guide, Jason,  from the previous day said most palaces were moved or built a new with each Emperor, so only 1 other is still in existence today. An Imperial Palace housing numerous Emperors over generations was usual. The Forbidden  Palace grounds  contain over 8 700 rooms. The moat which is 52m wide is backed by a thick stone wall which stretches 10m high which provided further protection. Today it only keeps tourists out and allows entrances and exits through its 4 main gates.

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Part of the moat inside the city walls. Only beautiful stone work walls here on the inside.

Today was a disappointing day as the pollution, fog and smog made for a cloudy dull day. The brilliant reds, greens and yellows were lost in this dullness that enveloped everything. It was barely above 5˚c, not the sunny high of 15˚c that was predicted. Best to keep moving. I am not sure what I expected but the many buildings all looked similar and none allowed entrance inside. An opening over a railing allowed you a peek inside if you could stand the crowds jostling and vying for position to get a look. Never mind stopping to pose for a photo because you would be taking someone else’s profile or back of their head. Rarely will people stop and wait as you take a photo, often they walk through your shot oblivious to what you are doing. The sparsely decorated rooms were not much to see. Some were covered with plastic coverings or layers of polluted dust. Such a shame to let a large part of history fade away. I guess I expected more opulence and splendor since it was forbidden to most commoners in the day. The wind picked up and despite my many layers, gloves, hat and scarf I was chilled and starting to feel miserable. This only added to the feeling of an anti-climax and we questioned this is it? Additionally, knowing now we will leave China next year added to my sadness. Slowly our plans and excitement around Asia is coming to an end  as so many things are getting crossed off our “Must See List”. The anticipation and feeling of ample time is turning to a feeling of loss and sadness to an interesting place that has been home and sooner than later will only be a collection of memories and photographs.

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Tour guides, who approached us outside the main gates and audio tours were available, but we decided to do it at our own pace. The local guides are not hired by the location, so we were leery of how authentic and true their information may be. Not to mention you must wonder if they will scam you later for a large price than agreed on. We may have taken the audio tour, but to be honest we didn’t seek it out and we didn’t notice a place where this was available. With our limited Chinese we decided not to ask, but instead use the well posted signs around the City in convenient locations that explained briefly what we were looking at in Mandarin and English.

Inside one of the many Forbidden City Rooms

Inside one of the many Forbidden City Rooms

The most surprising thing I learned was of the large stone wall and moat that ran around the Forbidden City. Little of the city wall is left today, but the similar style of wall  is still visible here. The moat, still filled with water, can be seen just after you enter near the Tian’anmen square gate. Moats seem more medieval Europe than Chinese, so it was something that really caught my attention.  Our tour guide from our Great Wall Tour told us that today’s Tian’anmen Square used to be part of the Forbidden City, the Emperor’s front yard, he explained. The gardens in the rear of the palace are the only ones left today. The square was built after a model of the Soviet squares in  Russia something that is not normally seen in Chinese city planning. Tian’anmen Square means Gate of Heavenly Peace and according to Wikipedia was destroyed during heavy fighting during a former dynasty. The name of the former gate was used to name the square Tian’anmen.

Stay tuned for more… next time the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, post a week, teaching overseas, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunch

I have started to take photos of food and my husband always comments that it is weird. Well lucky me I had some great shots for this week’s challenge 😉 And hey taking pictures of something that looks strange, or a work of art is a great memory frozen in time. Besides sometimes seeing is believing!

Last year I had one of those very moments. My co-teacher and her husband took me and my husband out for the day. We went to lunch in a place that was over flowing with diners. Service was fast and the noise level high which added all to the Chinese experience. We would never brave an establishment like this on our own since we speak little Chinese and how would we order… or worse what would we get??? Pointing a pictures may end up in some strange dishes and things you would rather not know they cook and serve, let alone eat.  After a brief conversation about what meats we liked they took to ordering. This is what appeared on our table.

Duck Tongue Delicacy

A real foul  delicacy 😉

We had some duck, chicken and pork. See the funny looking ‘meat’ in the front. The ‘sticky’ looking things. Try to guess what it is before reading on. It is not something I would ever think of eating, nor cooking. Give up??? Clue… it is poultry…. and a part of the animal. What did you guess? Put your guesses below in the comment section. I can’t wait to hear your suggestions. Anyway it is duck tongue! Yes duck tongue. She swears it is delicious, but I had to take her word on it. Even John who can be more adventurous, and not the same picky eater that I am, refused to try it. As they were eating the tangled mess it would be sticking out of their mouth and reminded me more of some bizarre insect with legs everywhere. I’ll stick to the chicken thank you.

Another bizarre food which is a Canadian speciality never really struck me as weird until talking about it to a fellow (American) teacher. They described it as a heart attack waiting to happen. I think it is delicious. Canada isn’t known for its cuisine. When people ask what foods is Canada  known for they come up with Canadian Bacon and Maple Syrup. someone even suggested the other day we eat maple syrup on everything! Really! I’ve known them 3 years and I don’t think I’ve eaten anything with syrup on it in front of them. Anyway the other food I am trying to share is poutine (poo-teen). It is a French Canadian dish and yes loaded with calories, but the savory and salty mix is lovely. I must admit I never tried it until a few years ago and thought WOW what I have been missing! I am not one to like gravy on my fries, so I avoided it. One day something tempted me to try it and I was hooked.

Salty Savory Poutine

Salty Savory Poutine

It has to be done right too, or it is not good. They have to be fresh cut fries and best if the skin is still on the ‘taters. Then a good beef gravy, NOT canned. Some people use shredded mozzarella cheese and that is just WRONG. It needs to be the big chunky, salty cheese curds that Quebec is known for. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

What is the strangest thing you have seen for lunch?

What food is your country known for?

To see more examples or join in the challenge go to Word Press here, or just add a comment below and stay tuned 🙂

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Photography, post a week, strange adventures, travel, unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Travel Etiquette

I just returned to Shanghai with a 14+ hour flight and before we left the ground I almost blew a gasket! It had to be the worst flight ever. Travelling on a small piece of metal hurtling through space which is already cramped and crowded you need to think about fellow passengers and not to mention customer service.

I have learned travelling with Chinese is just like trying to get on the subway metro. It becomes survival of the fittest. Push, shove and why wait for others to get off before getting on? If you are polite and orderly then you will miss the train. Before the attendants are even at the gate they line up waiting to get on the plane. Umm has anyone told them the little piece of paper called the boarding pass is guaranteeing them a seat and place on the plane? I don’t understand the logic of lining up when seats are called by row to help ease the flow of boarding. I have started to do the same now only because if you wait for your seat chances are there is no room for your carryon luggage. A few times it has to be stored 5-10 rows away from where I am sitting which is fine until you try to retrieve it. Soon as the plane stops moving they are up out of their seats pushing to get off the plane. What is the hurry? You can’t go anywhere until the doors are open! So basically I end up waiting until the flight is almost empty to get my things. Patience is not in their vocabulary 😉

SardinesFlight

This flight I was caught a little off guard and they started to board soon as the attendants arrived. I was also leaving from Toronto and last flight in January anyone who tried to board ahead of their called rows was turned away, so I didn’t feel the urgency to get on just yet. Lesson learned; never assume things will be like last time! I thought we were on a larger plane with over 60 rows of seating, so I got in line when they called my row in the 40s. Once on the plane I realised I was sitting at the back and ¾ of the plane was already on board! While still waiting in line the last rows were called and the remaining passengers tried to push and cut into line ahead of the other passengers who were already waiting. Common courtesy is just not observed.

As I tried to fight my way upstream to my seat, through the many people blocking the aisles who seat rows had not yet been called, the people behind me were close enough I could feel them breathing down my neck. As I stopped and waited patiently for the blockers to rummage through their carry on the people behind me began to push. Really where do you want me to go? Should I trample the other passengers? After about the third time I said out loud ‘Really? You need to push me? People are in the way’. The people behind me backed off ever so slightly.

overhead bin cartoonI got to my seat to see all the overhead compartments stuffed full. No one put anything under their seats and large carryons (most people had 2 plus a large bag of duty free). Obviously the carry on luggage rule was not carefully monitored. I asked the flight attendant to help me find space and she said go back and look closer to the front of the plane. I said ‘No I don’t think I need to put my luggage near the front when there should be space here. I boarded when I was suppose to and all the others came on early and took up all the space. That isn’t right.’ She just walked away. Great customer service… thanks for your help. Did she come back later to see if I found space? No of course not.

Thank you to the kind gentleman who tried to help me squeeze my bags into an overhead bin, but there was just no room. He also had an unfortunate situation where his wife and small baby were near the front of the plane and he was near the back. The flight attendants said there was nothing they could do since the flight was pretty well full. I doubt they asked anyone to move. I am sure if someone knew the situation they would have helped. I also had asked for an aisle seat hoping they could do something at check in. After explaining I was travelling alone, needed to get up and move around and needed close access to a bathroom I was told I had a window and that was a good seat. Again thanks for your understanding and good customer service.

Now just add a small wheelie bag and purse to the picture and you will have my view.

Now just add a small wheelie bag and purse to the picture and you will have my view.

With no other option and I wasn’t about to try to swim back downstream I shoved my small wheelie bag under the seat in front of me along with my purse. In an already small environment I now had no leg room. Good thing I am short and I am not claustrophobic because this would have put me over the edge. My seatmates came along and luckily didn’t have large bags. They settled in and it started to snow, so the long flight was about to get longer as we had to go to de-icing. Luckily it was a light snow and hadn’t had time to accumulate so the icing process only took a few minutes.

Soon as we were in the air the fellow in front of me reclined his seat and immediately started to snore. Could this get any worse? As it would have it yes. I had difficulty sleeping due to my cramped positions and my body just ached and was all tingly from pins and needles. My body was finally tired enough to sleep through the pain. Not long after I got some sleep my snoring friend kept opening the window to see outside even though the night lights were on. The blinding light woke me up from the 2 hours of sleep I managed to get. He had to have opened the blinds at least 3 times. Hey buddy yes it is still sunny… just like it was 15 minutes ago. I guess he already slept 7 or 8 hours and didn’t notice the other sleeping passengers around him.

This is how I felt only more confined being at the window and having my carryon underfoot.

This is how I felt only more confined being at the window and having my carryon underfoot.

In my already cramped position I noticed my middle seat mate had the legs propped up on my luggage which as you recall was under my seat. She had lots of space on her side, but I guess thought I needed less. At the end of the flight an announcement was made to stay in your seat if you needed assistance and a flight attendant would happily help you. Well sitting at the back of the plane I couldn’t get out and I had to wait for my seat mates to leave so I could pry my things from under the seat. Did any attendants come to see if I needed assistance? No of course not. They were all too busy gathering their things and leaving the plane. I left BEHIND some of the flight crew. I guess the announcement is not put into practice, but sounds like good customer service. I have done a lot of travelling in my life and this had to have been the worst flight with common courtesy and customer service I have ever had. Maybe if I put it out there in the universe people will stop and think about travel etiquette… Here are a few things for travellers to think about.

1. Carryon luggage – if you have more than 1 bag stow one under your seat so others have room for their things.
2. Think about packing light and not carrying all your belongings on the flight with you.
3. If you want people to fly your airline again acknowledge them and be kind, don’t ignore them and walk away. Maybe they wouldn’t be so grumpy with you if you treated them like a valued customer and wanted their repeat service.
4. Wait for your seat row to be called before lining up to get on the plane and the airlines should reinforce this.
5. Personal space… in an already cramped environment need I say more?

Now this may not be the worst travel horror story, but having back trouble and requiring to move every 2 hours or less, leaving my husband in Canada (and hopefully seeing him before July) and dealing with family illness back home I was sensitive and emotional as it was. All the small things built up and made the trip back here alone difficult. (And I didn’t even get into the taxi situation once I arrived in Shanghai…).

All images from Google Images.

What is your worst travel story? Or what can you add to the travel etiquette list?

Categories: Chinese Adventures, post a week, social graces, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Travel Theme: Gaudy

Due to travelling back to Canada for Chinese New Year I missed out on posting on the theme walls and unique. With my computer and external hard drive back in Shanghai I thought I would miss out on this theme too, but found a little treasure tucked away on a USB I happened to have with me.

We haven’t been able to travel much this year with John returning back to Canada in November. His step mom has found out she has stage 3 ovarian cancer and he came back to help out his family as much as he could. I have made the long trips back for Christmas and now Chinese New Year to be with family and John. However we did have a last-minute (short) trip to Seoul, South Korea for the recent October holiday.

When we were in Korea it was Korean Thanksgiving. People were off work, shops and banks were closed and special events like a night parade with outdoor concerts were part of the festivities. John and I went out to explore the night when we saw this fellow all dressed in a gaudy, shiny, white,  paten leather (or vinyl) suit. He was driving a motorcycle or electric scooter which was decked out in silver and white heart-shaped balloons. It was also spewing bubbles! I am not sure what he was advertising or doing, but with the heart shapes and bubbles we thought he was spreading joy and love. It made us laugh. It was certainly unique and gaudy, but made us happy. Events like these make great travelling stories and memories to last a life time.

The White Love Devil?

The White Love Devil?

We saw him driving around and didn’t think we would get a photo. He drove by a few times too fast, or too far away. We happened luck out and snap this photo, which he happily posed for when his bubble machine got clogged up and he stopped at an intersection to fix it. We quickly ran over before he sped off into the night once again.

Looking at his horns and hearts I wonder… is this the White Love Devil? Just in time for Valentine’s Day. 🙂

Is this gaudy enough for you? If not check out Alisa’s page where you can find hundreds of other posts with examples.

 

Categories: Culture, Photography, post a week, strange adventure, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

Home is what defines us as people. How we furnish it, pictures and knick knacks from adventures, childhood and other milestones give a glimpse into who we are and what we hold as important. As an expat I don’t have a home, but a place to live. I won’t stay there forever, so my home is defined as my country. When meeting people one of the first questions asked is “where are you from?” I define myself as Canadian. People automatically make assumptions about what kind of person you are based on your passport.

Snow Storm Feb 8, 2013

Snow Storm Feb 8, 2013

Cultural references need to be explained to others and often the reference or meaning is lost in translation. One of the big things I find myself explaining is snow. Many people assume it is very cold and snowy in Canada all the time. They seem surprised when you mention summer. I fall into the trap when we get the few snow flurries or skiff of snow that barely covers the ground in Shanghai. I can be heard saying “This isn’t snow… you have to see a Canadian winter to experience real snow.” I should tell them the few flurries in Shanghai are the equivalent to a snow in summer in Canada and really mess with them 😉

 This week’s photo challenge is home. I happened to be home here in Canada to experience a ‘real snow’. This was the worst storm since 2008. In St. Catharines we had 44cm of the white stuff. To put it in perspective Toronto has had 33cm of snow thus far this winter, not including the February 8th snowfall of course. St Catharines had the highest amount where most places 20-30cm fell.  Snow is what home has been defined as since I have lived abroad for close to 3 years now. I am sure many of my coworkers and students will be in awe of my trip home and having the experience of all this snow.

Snowy Street

Snowy Street

Snow Blowing the Driveway

Snow Blowing the Driveway

Well over 33 cm of snow!

Well over 33 cm of snow!

To see more examples of the theme home or to join the photo challenge click here.

What does home mean to you?

Categories: Photography, post a week, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lost in Translation?

I can’t read Chinese characters other than a few numbers and days of the week. With some English words thrown in and pictures I can usually get the gist of the meaning. At this time of year there are public service announcements everywhere… on flyers, on loud speakers in the metro, at the shops and even at apartment complexes. For major holidays where lots of people are travelling reminders of being kind and orderly are spouted constantly. Let people leave the subway before pushing on, watch your personal belongings… and then there was this sign I saw attached to the bulletin board outside the elevator in my building. What do you think it means?

Public Service Announcement

Public Service Announcement

What the poop?

What the poop?

I can only guess but after dodging ‘landmines’ and seeing animals and people, usually children,but not always going on the road, or balancing over trash cans to do their business I think I have a pretty good idea. Don’t ever assume that water on the sidewalk is water! I can only presume it is such public service reminder that either you should clean it up, so others don’t tramp on it, or don’t go on the street! It is official. It has a chop (stamp) to show it is important. All I can say it made me giggle and I thought I have to get a photo of this for the blog! This is the silly things that make China so unique and different. Maybe I am totally missing the point, but it still makes me laugh out loud.

What is a silly, unusual or unique thing you saw or heard today?

Heading back to Canada next weekend for Chinese New Year, so I may not get a chance to post until Monday or Tuesday. Stay tuned…

Categories: post a week, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , ,

We’re not in Kansas Anymore…

This line from the movie the Wizard of Oz can sum up many things I have experienced in China. Old and new traditions and affluence intermingle on the streets as opportunity has blessed some, and others continue with what they know and can do to sustain life. Shanghai has been very modern and a few extra quai (slang for money) can buy many of the western creature comforts I have become familiar with. Sometimes a $12 box of Pop Tarts or Golden Graham cereal just need to fill the palate as something familiar. Generally we do without, but it is nice to know it is there is we really need a ‘fix’. 🙂

Living in PuDong is easy. Many western expats live here, shops and restaurants cater to us and with a little Chinese and English we can get by. The streets are wider, more green space and it is quieter. A good place to have called home for 3 years. For others in the search of real China, you will not find it here. The bright lights, and big modern city feel rival other major cities around the world. Seeing flash cars drive by on a daily basis really clouds your view of what lies behind the curtain.

Last spring as you may recall I went to the Magda Danysz Art Gallery. It used to be along the Bund, a popular tourist ‘must see’ as it lines the river, many hotel chains and big beautiful buildings are all within easy reach. The view of the World Financial Tower (Bottle Opener), Pearl Tower,  JinMao and progress of the soon to be tallest building in Shanghai, Shanghai Tower is awesome, especially at night. The Amazing Race TV program just filmed here recently and the first few episodes of this season you may have seen this incredible area as teams ran along the Bund looking for the abacus and pit stop. It stretches as far as the eye can see and is usually wall to wall people out taking a stroll. The gallery decided to move to another location, away from the tourist area. As promised I finally will post our adventures to the gallery.

Magda Danysz  is a small gallery with free admission. They host many local artists as well as have small accommodations so visiting world artists may come and stay and be inspired in Shanghai. Their art can then be put on display and for sale. We really enjoyed the show and you can read that post by visiting here. Today’s post is not about the gallery, so let’s get back to the adventures.

Items for sale from the back of a bike!

My Chinese co-teacher helped me write the directions for the taxi driver in Mandarin and our group of 3 jumped in a cab and set off for the gallery. A short ride over the bridge we turned off the highway into a small neighbourhood. We glanced at each other and thought there may be some mistake as this looked residential and not artsy or business like at all. We passed carts selling various items, animals, fruits and vegetables… all very interesting to look at. A short moment later the taxi stopped. We looked blankly at him so he pointed to an abandoned looking building. With limited communication between us he showed us the paper and the only recognisable symbols were the numbers which matched what was on this building. We got out of the taxi and felt like Dorothy when she left the house and realised she wasn’t in Kansas anymore. We looked around and there was no sign of the gallery and our taxi has sped off. Nothing looked like the photos of the gallery from the website. We were stuck. We decided to wander back down the way we came and look at the interesting wares the locals were selling, so all would not be lost. If nothing else today would be an interesting photo opportunity and blog. 🙂

Cute Bunnies for Sale

The local sellers had cages and inside were fluffy cute  bunnies and chicks. Another held crickets! Looking around us the streets were narrow, dirty and crowded with things. Everything was so dull and grimy my senses were overwhelmed with what I saw. Buildings were not in the best repair and there was not another westerner in sight. We didn’t feel uneasy as we were ogled by the locals, as they were as curious of us as we were of them.  I kept thinking is this Shanghai? This is certainly not the Shanghai I had become accustomed to. It was like we went to another city, or part of China. Was I dreaming? Had we been transported back in time? This is what pictures of Shanghai looked like maybe 20 or 30 years ago. It certainly was surreal.

Crickets for Sale

We are not in Kansas any more Toto! IS this Shanghai?

We decided to walk back towards where the cab had dropped us off and see if we could find this gallery. As we approached from this angle the empty building where we had been deposited had a small sign on its left side with a MD and arrow pointing back into the alley/parking area. Should we dare? We walked back and after a few hundred meters we saw something that looked like a gallery. We went inside and sure enough it was the right place. Explaining our misadventures to the people there they laughed and said the photos were from the opposite side of the building, which has no street access! Maybe finding the gallery was part of the art adventure they planned… only the brave and clever were lucky enough to enter.

Anywhere else I think I would have worried and panicked being dropped in an unfamilar, poor looking neighbourhood, but this is Shanghai where adventures await and no matter where you are you are safe. In a city this size crime is low and the occasional scam or pick pocket seems juvenile compared to other big worldly cities. Shanghai offers so much and even after 3 years there is still so much to see and do. More adventures await. Stay tuned for more…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, post a week, strange adventures, Uncategorized, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , ,