Now that the internet was working at the ‘Baolong Homelike Hotel’, I had a downloaded map of Shanghai on my phone. It is not easy to get English language maps of any city in China. After working out where to get the credit card size topupable pass for the transport system, which here was valid for taxis as well, I was set for venturing out around this enormous city.
I was very curious to travel on the subway system as back in June the Shanghai Number Two Subway Company had advised women to dress more conservatively as ‘there were many perverts on the subway and asked women to ”cherish” themselves’. It is true that many young women do wear very short skirts and shorts.
A rather difficult woman at the China Credit Bank refused to take one of my near mint fifty euro notes, so I produced some of my Yuan notes to show her that that I had never found a Chinese note in such good condition. Not wanting to lose face she then offered to change the yuan into a new note. I was annoyed at her refusing my euro note so I managed to produce about forty bad condition yuan which she then searched the bank for good quality Chinese currency.. She failed! When I arrived the armed security guard was fast asleep and he was still asleep when he I left.
There are people asleep everywhere in China. I cannot believe the contorted sleeping positions they can adopt. In some places in the afternoon it is impossible to find a bench to sit on.
The other side of the HuangpuRiver is the shiny new face of Shanghai, Pudong, with the famous ShanghaiWorldFinancialCenter dominating the skyline, with a cluster of only slightly smaller ones around.
These new skyscrapers now tower over the once tallest, Oriental Pearl TV tower. The Oriental Pearl has a certain quality and the design of the building with its tripod legs is said to be based on a verse of the Tang dynasty poem Pipa Song. Who Knows!!
The Chinese flock in their charabanc hordes to Pudong. I have been itching to use the word charabanc for over a year now now ever since Collins dictionary had deleted it. And it is to the Oriental Pearl not the World Financial Center they go.
I took the unbelievably fast lifts up to the one hundredth floor Observation Deck of the Financial Center. The view was incredible, I had never seen so many tall buildings in one place before. The number of them far outstrips any other city. I had to force myself to go to the edge as ones built in self preservation stops you from going too close. If one stands on the reinforced glass panels in the floor it really does bring on a sense of vertigo.
I joined the the rest of humanity, or so it seemed on the riverside of the Bund.
A young chinese guy with the anglicised name James wanted to practise his english. I then realised I had hardly had a conversation of more than a few words, apart from the perfunctary dealing with hotel registration or ordering a meal, for about a week. Visiting big modern cities in China, where everyone is occupied with making a living and few people speak English is an alienating experience.
Peoples Square in the heart of Shanghai is on the site of the old race track. In 1949 gambling and horse racing were banned under the new communist government, and the track became the Peoples Square and the stands were used for military parades. I personally would ban gambling everywhere, along with payday loans and all the other shyster companies whose adverts interrupt and spoil my enjoyment of tv sports.
As it is the biggest green space in central part of the city, it is a magnet for both tourists and hasslers. Here I was hasssled more aggressively than any other time, But I must point out that this was the only part of Shanghai there were husslers, the rest of the time I suffered mainly from the fact they just ignored me and I don’t know which is worse.
I was wandering around a large square in front of a shopping plaza to the south of Peoples Park when a when I a woman of about thirty came up and said she had forgotten my name. I gave it as Jack, my standby n,ame for certain circumstances. She said I was a very good looking guy and did I want to come back to her place for two hundred yuan. Her name oh yes Lily.. Shanghai Lil !!