Metropolitan Life

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

Flag of China  , Shanghai,
Monday, October 3, 2011

The week of Oct 1-7 is basically China's second largest national holiday. It is predominately when everyone returns home to spend time with the family. My intention was to steer clear of any tourist destination and attractions during this period as I waited out the days before my departure to Nepal. The original plan was to crash at Joel’s place again while he was in the States, but plans changed and luckily I was able to arrange an ideal Couch with an Italian woman Francesca who came referred to me by Margret and Roman. Francesca lives in the French Concession neighborhood of Shanghai, which is centrally located, filled with tons of international cafes, restaurants and boutiques not to mention has a nice array of jazz and dance bars.

Francesca is the perfect host for foreign tourist like me. After at least two years in Shanghai and additional time elsewhere in China she speaks the language fluently and has much respect for the culture, which helped me see some nuances with a different perspective. She graciously supplied me with detailed maps to every destination as well as use of her antique fixed gear bike. Of course it felt odd cruising around busy Shanghai on this rusty old bike without a helmet but somehow the chaos works and soon enough I was whizzing in and out of cars like a natural. When I needed to take the bus, Francesca made another little map with clear directions on bus number, how to arrive at station, how many stops etc. With ease she noted the Chinese letters to make it easy for me to just show the paper if I was in a bind.

Unlike my previous visit to Shanghai I had multiple days of blue skies which made touring around much more pleasant and gave me a whole new impression of this metropolitan city. Without a doubt it is extremely international with expats abound. One day I visited the Propaganda Poster Art Center located in the basement of an apartment complex displaying cartoon style drawings depicting the cultural history of 20th century China. The gallery was a few rooms full of posters that the government had released over the last 80 years or so, designed mostly to depict the changes in Chinese political views and alliances with different countries aimed to meet the demand of the government while still appealing to the masses. Mostly they portray the greatness of Chairman Mao was always degrading the US and English imperialism.

Another day I pedaled my way over to the one free attraction I found in China, the Shanghai Museum located in People’s Square, before viewing Jing’an Temple on my way to Jade Buddha Temple. I was sure to squeeze in a night viewing of the Bund from the Hyatt's Skybar on the 80th floor before joining Fran for a tasty vegetarian Asian fusion meal. Until next time China...
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