Sparky Travels

December 6, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — admin @ 10:43 am

I arrived an hour late into Shanghai Train Station at 11:30am. I took the underground to the hostel which is situated on the outskirts of the city but right by a tube station. After some food and a recovery sleep I made my way into town to get a feel for the city. The area I found myself in turned out to be the expensive area of the French Concession and struggled to find somewhere to get food for less than £10. I managed to locate a bakery and with a bag full of savoury goodies ( some containing real cheese!) I strolled on. Due to the time all of the sights were closing for the day so I had no choice but to head back to the hostel. A few beers later it was time for bed, anticipating an early start and busy day of sightseeing tomorrow.

I woke up on the 5th and grabbed some free breakfast in the hostel cafe. The hostel is one of the most modern and professional I’ve stayed in. It resembles a Travelodge but with warm and welcoming common areas and stylish shared bathrooms. It is 60Y a night (£6) but that’s not too bad for Shanghai and the free breakfast makes it better value than otherwise.

After breakfast I got the underground into town and began my sightseeing. First up was Shanghai Art Museum. Situated in a pretty old building near People’s Square it contained a surprisingly good collections of paintings. I can add some examples because everyone else was taking photos so I joined in. The highlights were the work of Liu Yi, a lecturer at a university in Shanghai. His work was almost photo-realistic with exquisite lighting and a dreamlike quality to them.

The paintings of Nancy Woo Chu on the other hand were abstract with a beautiful vividness of colour and texture.

Still in an arty mood, I popped next door to the Shanghai Grand Theatre Gallery which had some mediocre work by a Chinese guy living in Denmark. It was more of a showroom/business than a museum but it was free.

The next stop was the Shanghai Museum, a much lauded place right in the centre of People’s Square. I deftly avoided the girls trying to invite me to a teahouse (where I’d have received an outrageous bill and no choice but to pay, every hostel has a warning about these scams) and headed through the airport-like security at the entrance. I’m very used to the over the top security now since it is at every attraction, train station and underground station. The museum was pretty underwhelming since I’d seen its likes before in Xi’an and Beijing: jade,caligraphy, bronze, stone Buddhas etc. The porcelain exhibition was the one bright spot and really showed why we still know porcelain as ‘china’.
I managed to make it to the sight of the first national congress of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and had fun reading the propaganda about their formation. True to form, security started ‘ushering’ everyone out while we were halfway through due to it closing in half an hour and pictures were forbidden in the room where the congress was actually held. Across the road was the postal museum. I’d read that this was an excellent place to visit and housed in a grand building. I was disappointed until I realised that this was the ‘Postal’ museum and not the ‘Post’ museum which is a different place entirely. This one is just a post office with a few exhibits and a brief history of post in China. I did manage to buy some stamps though.
Back at the hostel I rested my now weary legs and watched the Man utd v West Ham game.

I got up late on the 6th and went to Shanghai South Train Station to catch the next available train to Hangzhou. The next train available was the luxury ‘D’ class coach which was pretty swanky and only took an hour and a half. It only stopped at Hangzhou East station rather than the station in the city centre but it beat waiting 3 hours for another train.


Shanghai (Shanghai museum on the right)

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