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Back to China - Shanghai - Nanjing - Hangzhou - August / September 2012 - Page 5

Day 13 - Saturday, 8 September 2012

Back to the start

Today was a long boring day getting back to Shanghai. I am now back in the same hotel as 9 days ago.
My train wasnt until 2pm, the earliest I could get, I guess a lot of people travel into Shanghai for Saturday night.
This meant I spent the morning waiting to go to the train, I couldnt get up to my usual activity style of getting lost, getting on random busses, walking 20 miles out of town etc. as there would be a chance I would miss my train.

I took a taxi to the train station which was an adventure, the guy drove like a maniac one handed whilst screaming on the phone. Interestingly all taxis are manual, so a lot of the time he was going no handed whilst changing gears.
A few times I was sure we were going to hit a scooter or cyclist, but we never did. His aggressive driving got me to the station a long time before my train, and what a crap station it is!
Apparently theres a flash new station already built which will start operation with the metro, much like everything else. As much as I thought Hangzhou was excellent, and worthy of its #1 tourist city status, if you plan to come, wait a year until everythings finished.

These are all glass, like expensive things people would have in their cabinets. Except they are outdoors in the open and anyone can smash them if they so choose. Yet no one does.
I cant imagine they would last 10 minutes in a drunken western city.

Just another random ominous looking building punching a hole through the smog layer, which was particularly bad today.
On the train ride between the two cities, it went from bad smog, to almost none, to bad smog again.

Chinas NBN. I bet no one complains about it here, super fast filtered censored internet.

This sign makes me want to break the law.

The train station has almost no food. Well theres a KFC but I stand by my statement! The best I could do was a slice of sponge cake and watermelon juice.

Meanwhile, this guy decided sitting on the floor like thousands of other people wasnt for him. Hes found the most comfortable cherry picker spot to take a sleep.

American TV advertisements

This evening I headed out early just around the local area enjoying the busy part of Shanghai on a Saturday night. There was a ridiculous amount of people, and a ridiculous amount of men missing teeth asking if I want sex massage.
They really need to get better sales people.

Other interesting things I saw, one of the malls has a very popular restaurant on the 9th floor, so popular in fact the 8th floor is just stadium seating for waiting to get into the restaurant, complete with the distorted loudspeaker system.
I also saw a kitten attached to a chair by a string beat the crap out of a small terrified dog that was unfortunate enough to be going past.
In the nearby back streets I saw 5 people try and get on one scooter and fail, which resulted in a guy falling off the back with his bubble tea and phone. He succesfully managed to neither spill his tea or drop his phone.
I saw a lot of beggars, theres one guy who does similar to the muslim prayer on his knees but at 100x the speed. But the amusing one was earlier in the evening I saw a guy begging for money with his 'sick' mother laying on a sort of trolley cart thing wrapped up in blankets with an IV drip hanging off a pole. Later I saw them again, only she was off the make shift bed no longer attached to the fake IV drip, sitting on a bench nearby eating an ice cream.

Anyway, I made it back to my hotel in time to catch the formula 1 qualifying via illegal internet stream. Tonights stream was the USA coverage. Somewhat surprisingly, the American commentators were great, very knowledgable. But the better part was I got to see American TV ads. These included -
1. An ad for a legal service promising to get you a life changing settlement, no matter what kind of accident you were in, even if it was your fault! With the cost of raising a family these days, can you afford not to sue?
2. A guy who was running up a mountain, then hang gliding, then kick boxing, with a hilarious voice over about how in control he is of his life. Thats why he uses viagra, like 40 million other American men.
3. Some women sitting around asking each other idiotic questions about tyres, or that should be tires. Each boasting about how little they know about tires ('what, you mean those black rubber things on the wheels? hahahah!'). But dont worry, help is at hand tire man arrived on the scene to direct them to an informative website, to keep their families safe. The moms all then boarded their SUV's to go home and read the website.
4. A republican party ad about how gun ownership is increasingly being threatened in America, is your family safe?
5. A recruiting ad for the Marines, secure your future now.
6. Get a loan even if you are broke! We are extending this special offer for the next 10 minutes only, call now! Special rate for the unemployed!
7. Then the scariest ad of all, Nascar!

The best way to advertise the new volkswagen polo GTI, put girls in suits and make them leap off a skateboard ramp thing whilst screaming. Good timing on my shutter release.

Run girl run!

My dinner was advertised as a unique Chinese style curry. It was just like what my grandmother would make out of a recipe in the Womens Weekly from the 1960's. Not bad though!
The place was crowded so I was sat at a table with a girl already eating. She was very talkative, and spoke good English. She claims to have learnt all her English from watching movies.
She told me that she likes to talk to westerners to practive, but if she approaches them to do so, they always assume she is a massage girl, so she was very pleased when I sat next to her, because I would have no reason to think she was trying to scam me.
We then practiced mandarin for a while, she understood me find but told me that in Shanghai and Hangzhou (she doesnt know about Nanjing), its common for older shop keepers to deliberately answer people trying to speak Mandarin in Wu. They do this to confuse white people.
She also told me that like the French, Chinese people will pretend to not know English when they can speak it well.
So there you go. She didnt suggest we go to a teahouse or anything, in fact she left before I was finished, I still have my wallet and internal organs.

I cant help but think this guy would sell more shoes if he paired them up. Unless its meant to be the odd shoe store?

This is a fashion parade, for perfume bottles. Model after model came out showing everyone a different perfume bottle. Its also being filmed and there seemed to be a truck nearby with a satellite dish suggesting it was being telecast live.

My healthy snacks, apples, bananas, fruit salad, dark chocolate popcorn. 3 out of 4 aint bad.

Day 14 - Sunday, 9 September 2012

Mao's plane

Just over a week ago I tried to find the aerospace museum and found an empty field.
Today after some extensive research, I almost didnt find it again in the completely different location where its actually located. It is quite small and well hidden underneath an elevated highway. But I was determined! I knew which station it was near and went in all 4 directions until I found it.
I guess it wasnt worth the effort if you dont like planes, luckily I do, and the entrance fee of $1 was cool too.
The highlight for the few people that were visiting was undoubtedly Chairman Mao's old plane. We all took turns to sit in his chair.
The actual facility isnt a museum as such, its the China Corporate Aircaft Manufacturing Company public awareness centre. They are tasked with making Chinas first commercial airliners. The buildings around the planes explain this story and interestingly, a few failures along the way. They have made a regional jet which is test flying now, and have grand plans for domestically produced short, medium and long haul airliners.
The displays talk proudly of 100% Chinese intellectual property going into the designs.

This is the only sign, its under the elevated highway and points to a rather non descript gateway between apartment buildings. Its apparently not even worthy of a brown sign for a tourist attraction.

The largest plane here, apparently a Chinese design that did all its test flights in the 80s but never went into production. The reason given 'various reasons'.

A huge Shenyang interceptor. Photos dont convey the size.

The usual lineup of Korean war era mig fighters. China made them under license from Russia.

Despite being an aerospace park, they have a torpedo boat floating in an algae filled swamp. I climbed aboard to fire the gun. People thought I was quite special because I stood their making machine gun noises.
I gave a salute to the visting tourists and marched off in my commando shorts.

Inside that failed big jet. Its really quite roomy.

I was amazed at the amount of leg room. Hows this for a photo, normally I take a photo of the leg room I get on a plane I actually travel on.
This time I have stepped it up a notch, photo of the leg room of a failed Chinese airliner parked in a field at a museum. Im going to start www.legroomphotos.com

This is the cockpit of Chairman Mao's 1950's era propellor plane.

People are relaxing in his plane, I told them to get out, NOW. And assumed my position as the one true Chairman. Finally my destiny fulfilled, the days of book burning shall resume! Next we invade Japan!

Nearby, an amusement park, out here in the suburbs. Not my kind of thing but I havent been on a holiday yet where I dont go on a ferris wheel. Heres my chance.

Most of the rides seem pretty crappy but they are cheap.
Unlike 6 flags parks in America, thankfully no one was decapitated, and no one had their feet cut off. At least while I was there.

Theres no line for the ferris wheel, which cost about $4 and takes 15 minutes to go around. The carriages are air conditioned.

Like a boss. It was slightly alarming when near the top it stopped for a few minutes and a garbled voice came over the distorted loudspeaker. I wasnt too concerned, I had a drink with me!

Another high pollution day. The windows are annoyingly tinted to ruin your photos.

Looking back down on the amusement park and elevated highways.

Perhaps the scariest ride in the park. But it doesnt go until its full. I had to sit around for 20 minutes waiting for every seat to fill before they would operate it. The people strapped in for that long didnt seem to mind. So there you go, there may be no queue but you have to wait just as long anyway.

Similar story with this roller coaster. The actual ride lasted about 30 seconds.

My lunch, I am back on the noodles. This one adds wood ear fungus. I love fungus. I also ordered some Jiaozi dumplings but they never came! I didnt hang around to argue for my missing $1 worth of food.

Heading back to the subway it started to get really dark, and the humidity was ridiculous. Then it rained exceptionally hard. I decided to just walk through it and get wet. People looked at me like I was the messiah, or perhaps a fool. Many women were wondering how come I dont dissolve in the rain which is clearly something they genuinely fear.

Its raining but thats OK

After the storm it got amazingly clear. Which meant on the horizon of Xizang South Road I could see buildings I didnt know were there. This is as good enough reason as any to walk and see what they are.
A storm was always looming but held off for the perfect amount of time. Enough time for me to look at crap in E-mart, Amazingly cheap electronic stuff in Lolo or Lulu or whatever its called, explore the antiques street which was interesting and find my dinner.
It was then time to head back to my hotel for the grand prix from Monza, the rain re arrived with perfect timing.

Insert something funny here? OK, I enjoyed the chocolate popcorn last night, so today I bought some microwave chocolate popcorn. I havent had it yet but I am excited. Saving it to eat during the race. I dont know if this is funny or not but I am interested to find out not only if Chinese microwave popcorn 'works' but also how the chocolate gets distributed over it. I predict I will have chocolate coated hands shortly.
The kind of crap that amuses me is always surprising.

This photo is here purely because I couldnt believe how clear it was. We just need a sudden downpour every day followed by surreal sunlight. I am sure the central party is working on it, they did manage to prevent rain during the olympics after all.

I walked past this tower thing. It seems to serve no purpose at all. The only way up is the ladder on the outside by the looks of it.

The antiques street. Full of things for tourists to buy for people expecting gifts at home. Hence there were a lot of white people here.

My dinner. I think its duck on the right? It wasnt too bad, I am not a huge fan of duck. It may have been pork. I dont know, its definitely pork on the left. I dont suppose it matters, maybe its bullfrog again.

***Bonus update***
For the photography nerds, I took these two photos out of my hotel window, hooray for opening windows.
Both are straight out of camera, using the Sony HDR function. The exposure time on this one is 20 seconds x 3, F11.

And for the second one, there was a bit more street lighting, hence the exposure needed for each of the 3 overlaid frames is 13 seconds.
I left these files large so you can appreciate the detail, they are 2048 pixels wide.

Day 15 - Monday, 10 September 2012

Humble administrator

I have been to Suzhou before, last time it was a grey and polluted day and one of the first days I spent on the mainland. That day was long and hot but fantastic!
So today I went back again, its not far on the bullet train, and a return trip costs about $10. According to various China tourist rankings, of which they now rank the rankings, Suzhou is either #1 or #2 tourist city in all China! I have no idea how this is measured.
There certainly are a lot of people that take daytrips from Shanghai, when you get there and even before you leave theres pushy day trip sellers waving cards at your face and screaming at you in English. My answer to this is 'wo shir suzhou ren' which I hope means I am from Suzhou. It certainly has the effect of getting rid of them fast.
Once you get there the police control the scrum line of tour operators waiting at the station exit gate, it wasnt as bad as last time which I think was a weekend. Today is Monday after all and I was there quite early.

This time the first metro line of Suzhou is completed, so being the nerd that I am, I rode it to the the 'new city' part of Suzhou and marvelled at the new. It was a fantastic ghost town built ready for the influx of people riding the new metro. I guess since the line has only been open about a month the lack of people was understandible.
Unlike Nanjing and Hangzhou who are constructing their metro lines by digging open cut trenches in main roads, with the ensuing dust storms, traffic chaos and noise, Suzhou has elected to do theres with tunnelling machines. Theres cool videos being shown in the stations of how this is done which I sat and watched (really!).

I am quite sure that the new metro, the new city, the shiny buildings and under patronised outdoor malls are not what makes it the #1 or #2 tourist city, but as the photos will show below, I found this just as interesting as the actual tourist bits.

Since my last visit, they have started constructing the second half of the high speed rail station. Presumably once this is completed you will be able to exit the station on the city side, so that you dont have to walk along a busy highway underpass.

I went up this pagoda last time, so no need to do it today. I was tempted because it was really clear and I could do some funky panoramas and stuff with my nerdy camera.

Fresh noodles are better than dried. This photo demonstrates why, your noodles may be dried in the street. This adds a delicious concrete dust flavour.

The main tourist attraction seems to be this garden, called the humble administrators garden. Apparently some old town clerk built it.

According to a sign, this garden is in the top 4 privately constructed gardens in all China! Now they are just making lists up arent they? This website is in the top 7 travel photography humor websites typed by me.

The garden is very popular with the tour groups. I have done my best to avoid them and take photos where the view isnt obscured by flags, fat people with huge cameras, matching t-shirts (Shanghai or BUST!) and back packs and tour leaders with loudspeakers and whistles.

I am not sure what the creator of this garden was humbly administering, but he must have been getting some additional funds. Is this the garden that fraud and corruption built?

The centre of the old city. The buildings are made in an old style to get tourists excited enough to get their wallets out. But fear not it has many mcdonalds and KFC's in case you are worried you might have to suck the flesh off the face of a pig to get a feed in Suzhou.

After quite a lengthy ride on the brand spanking new metro, this is where I popped out.

Its so shiny and blue. And as if to show me how shiny and new it is, a nearly clear blue sky presented itself.

Hmmm, not today. But I feel quite foolish for going on one yesterday. My ferris wheel quota is already met for this trip.

Lunch was fantastic! Again!, !. This is freshly made mini wontons in szechuan pepper oil, with cucumbers in vinegar and garlic. They complemented each other superbly. I ate the whole lot!

This is the ghost town indoor / outdoor mall area. Its lunch time and theres not many people around. The shops are all open though, with very bored looking staff. I teased them by walking toward their stores, and then suddenly veering before entering.
This had the effect of waking them from their slumber on their counters, ready to greet me entusiastically, only to be dissapointed at the last second.

I have to take a photo of myself in each city in case I need an alibi. This is under a bridge with twinkling gold lights.

This building was on news.com.au the other day. On one of their 'news' stories about the worlds most ridiculous buildings. Im surprised they found room for it on their site in amongst all the big brother, farmer wants a wife, masterchef and whatever other crap idiots find important which now dominates real news websites in Australia because our country has collectively become retarded.

I boarded my train back to Shanghai and this guy was in my seat. Hes not really asleep. I told him excuse me in Chinese, showed him my ticket. He shrugged his shoulders and pretended to sleep more.
So I took his photo. People around started laughing at him. Still he didnt move.
So his bags which you can see in front of his feet, I grabbed one of those and started walking away with it. He moved swiftly then.
He was lucky, my next move was to beat him with his own bag.

Bike crash

This evening I went to where theres a lot of white people bars and restaurants, specifically for ex pats.
I just cant bring myself to go into them. The food looked nice enough, the Mexican place in particular looked good, but I dont really understand why they have to be exclusively for white people.
I didnt do much as I had been out all day in the sun, so enough bullshit text here.

I like buildings.

I like pho. I asked for extra spicy and the chef did a decent job. They cook the rice noodles too long. My theory is that they take less time to cook than Chinese style noodles yet the chefs they employ are so used to cooking Chinese ones they can never get it right.
Either that or he left them on too long.

This is the area with the Pho restaurant. It also has Mcdonalds, KFC, Krispy Kreme, Carls Jr, Baskin Robbins, Starbucks, Costa, Marks and Spencer just to name a few. Basically its a conglomeration of things white people like.
Actually though, this is the Puxi side of Shanghai, the real ex pat side is the Pudong side, apparently. I have never been to where the housing is over there, just the big buildings in the business area.

2nd big building. I really like buildings.

And then I saw this strange bike crash. It seems the girl was sitting on the back and got something (I am not sure what) tangled in the bike.
It seems as though her top has come off, but who knows. She has / had nice hair anyway.
At first I was concerned but they both seemed to be laughing hysterically about it. A crowd had formed. A father was busy pointing through the railing showing his young son what was going on.
I snapped this sneaky photo. I felt like an ass because the focus assist beam lit them up in bright orange!
No one wears helmets on any kind of bicycle / scooter / motorcycle.

David on 2012-09-10 said:
I dont even proof read what I write, so its a wonder theres not more mistakes, especially given how my space bar rarely works correctly.
As for the crooked photos, thats because they are 60 second exposures and required the ledge as a tripod. Blame the ledge. I could crop them straight but then they wouldnt be 'straight out of camera'

mummy on 2012-09-10 said:
Your spelling is deteriorating and photos from hotel window arejust slightly crooked - work on these. Otherwise all very interesting. Sneaky Chinese guy outsmarted by bullshitting Aussie!

There is now a page 6, it will be the last page, unless I decide to never return.

Contents

Latest Update

Day 1 - Monday, 27 August 2012
  Time to go
  Getting here
Day 2 - Tuesday, 28 August 2012
  I forgot my passport
  My bag arrived
Day 3 - Wednesday, 29 August 2012
  Wuxi, the dusty city
  More canals, far canals
Day 4 - Thursday, 30 August 2012
  There is no museum
  Bottle opener
Day 5 - Friday, 31 August 2012
  No train pictures
  Bed turn down service
Day 6 - Saturday, 1 September 2012
  Sombre please
  Twice as lost
Day 7 - Sunday, 2 September 2012
  Purple haze
  Sleep now please
Day 8 - Monday, 3 September 2012
  Panda dead, again
  Cool weather is cool
Day 9 - Tuesday, 4 September 2012
  Wet, lost and confused
  Rivers of mud
Day 10 - Wednesday, 5 September 2012
  The lake in the fog
  Best meal ever?
Day 11 - Thursday, 6 September 2012
  The great buddah scam
  Somehow no pollution
Day 12 - Friday, 7 September 2012
  My own personal cave
  Almost missed the best bit
Day 13 - Saturday, 8 September 2012
  Back to the start
  American TV advertisements
Day 14 - Sunday, 9 September 2012
  Mao's plane
  Its raining but thats OK
Day 15 - Monday, 10 September 2012
  Humble administrator
  Bike crash
Day 16 - Tuesday, 11 September 2012
  Expo of urban decay
  Still walking
Day 17 - Wednesday, 12 September 2012
  Countdown to deportation
Day 18 - Thursday, 13 September 2012
  No legroom photos