Long day of touring. On the bus at eight-thirty this morning and off it at nine-thirty tonight. In between we’ve travelled what is obviously a pretty well worn tourist route in Shanghai.
Which is not to say that it hasn’t been enlightening. We’ve been in Pudong today – the commercial hub of China. This is effectively a brand new town, constructed out of farming land since the early 1990s. The buildings are new and still look beautiful (I take it all back); the streets are wide and clean.
Beneath the veneer, however, there are reminders of what it was like to tour here as a kid in the mid 1980s.
The Shanghai museum was terrific. Could’ve spent a day looking at thousand-year old ceramics and coins that were much older than that. We had little over an hour.
‘Shanghai Designated Tourist Restaurant’ read the sign above the door of the establishment at which we dined for lunch. No recommendations on Urbanspoon.
It became clear that our guides have various profit sharing arrangements in places with different vendors of mementoes and souvenirs around town. We would all have enjoyed a more historical, and less self-servingly commercial perspective, I think. It would have been good to hear what happened in ‘The Bund’ – the foreign government protectorates – in the 1920s and 1930s – rather simply that these magnificent buildings were simply built at that time. We spent 15 minutes looking at them from across the road and then went to a shop which sold pearls. To 14 and 15 year old kids! In this part of town the Chinese flag flies above 20 or more buildings in a row. They seem to be making a statement that these magnificent old structures, built by foreign powers, now serve China. Across the road a massive statue of Chairman Mao presides over the splendid new river promenade, the restaurants and cafe’s and bars and cars. Contrasts beyond words.
The kids have had too much shopping. Spent money on trinkets and toys and food they didn’t really need to eat.
All I set out to buy was mobile data. Job done.