Sunday, February 3, 2008

Shanghai day 6

I didn't have to work today, so I started out at a leisurely pace and read the English-language Shanghai Daily paper over breakfast. I am wondering about the slant of the news media here on even trivial matters. After the articles about the snow/weather/airport closure/energy shortage/etc, three top headlines include:

"Tests clear dumplings of pesticides" - Have you heard about this? Have you heard that China was cleared in this matter?? Reading the article, they imply that the fault is with a Japanese delivery company, without actually saying it.

"Microsoft finds inside resistance" - I'm not sure where "inside" comes from, but they interviewed a couple of random people who are against the proposed merger and there is a funny quote "Sergey and Larry are going to have no problems sleeping". BTW don't buy mutual funds from First American Funds, they apparently sell their holdings AFTER a stock price goes down. BUY, people!!!

"Oscar films are box-office poison" - an article about how the big oscar contenders "There Will Be Blood" and "No Country for old Men" are losing money at the box office, but they list "Juno" as an exception. Quote "Most movie goers have seen neither of them - and never will." "Oscar-nominated films are often small, dark, and unintended for mass audiences." Huh???

How do these compare to US and Russian articles on the same barely-important topics?

I took a cab to the Yu Garden because apparently when I walked there yesterday I missed the entrance - I think I was walking in the Yu Garden parking lot or something like that ;) It's a nice place, very similiar to Dr. Sun's Chinese Garden in Vancouver, but maybe 10 times the size. By the time I decided I had seen enough of it, it took about 15 minutes of walking through the labrynth to find the exit!

Surrounding the Yu Garden is the largest area of souvenirs and trinkets you have ever seen. It's like San Francisco Chinatown after steroids. In the picture, you see that the booths stretch as far as the eye can see - and I was already in the middle of the street - there's the same amount in the other direction!! I spent a huge chunk of time there going from booth to booth and bartering with the locals. It's the thing to do.

Then I started walking back from the Yu Garden to the Marriott (again) and I passed this young man with an Acer PC strapped to his back while riding a bicycle. It seemed like a Kodak moment.

When I got to the 60% way point, I knew where to grab a cab, and I knew how to direct him to the Marriot, so everything was smooth sailing from that point. I left my bag of trinkets at the Marriott - and Carla and I headed to The Bund. That's the Chinese word for (I believe) riverbank. It's a beautiful area any time of day - we were there just before sunset. Here are a few pictures - Me at The Bund with a view of Pudong (East side of the city).

In the left hand side, you see the Shanghainese equivalent of the space needle - The Oriental Pearl Tower. More on that in a moment. Picture: Same view of Pudong from the Bund, but you can see it's a shipping channel. Coal barges were going back and forth here like crazy - it reminded me of an article in the Shanghai newspaper about how they are frantically keeping up with the need for electricity during this crazy weather.

And there's a picture of me posing with a statue of The Chairman.  Then we took the "Tourist Tunnel", which is literally an underground cable car. But it's not just any underground cable car - this one has a Sci-Fi theme. There's "cheesy-good" lights and colors and sounds and lasers and fog and all sorts of mayhem!! (More on cheesy-good vs cheesy-bad in a minute).


The entrance/exit/cable car turnaround.

View from the car with flash.

View from the car without flash.

View from the car with long exposure so you can see the motion in all its cheesiness.

On the Pudong side, we decided to have dinner at the top of the Oriental Pearl. It costs slightly more to have dinner there than it does just to visit the top. The food was ok. They had some interesting things, most of which I didn't try because (1) i'm a silly american and (2) the quality of things in this restaurant was not great and i've made it through the trip so far so i'd like to finish the trip in one piece. The more interesting things they had were: fried shark (i had it, nothing special), snails, bullfrogs, and "stirred root with spicy" (which i had, it was basically spaghetti made out of yams "with spicy") ;)

Here are two pictures from the Oriental Pearl - the first is of the Puxi (West) side after sunset - and the second is of one of many floating electronic billboards.

The Oriental Pearl has many levels (notice the various Pearls in the earlier picture from The Bund) and elevators - and you need a different elevator to get between each Pearl - I think it's a metaphor for something. The top floor (350 Meters) exhibit is "Fashion Miniature of History" - dolls and diaramas. Under that is the rotating restaurant/buffet (263 Meters) where we ate. Under that is a really cheesy-bad space exhibit where they show scale models of Chinese rockets and weird lighting and four different ET's hiding in niches and the place smells like The Heart at the Franklin Institute. Note that I am not grabbing ET's crotch in the picture - the room was completely dark and we only became visible through the magic of flash photography - I had no idea where my hand was!

A floor below that is an arcade where they have a bunch of "Rides of Your Life" / "Star Tours" type experiences that don't work. A floor below that is a roller coaster that was turned off (probably for the best). A floor below that: you can go outside to take more photos. Then we took a really cool glass elevator from what was probably about 81 Meters above ground back down to 3 meters below ground (gift shop).

Then we took the tourist tunnel back - and you can see more cheesy-good photos:

With no flash.

Long exposure.

Long exposure.

If if some reason you were interested enough in this tunnel to look at all 7 pictures, let me know and I'll send you the video of the tunnel cable car turnaround ;)

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