Sunday, May 29, 2011

Visited China – Shanghai

21 April 2011 – Shanghai

We were received at the airport by Ms Aileen (Li Ling) and taken straight to Indian Kitchen for dinner, where we were joined by hordes of Sri Lankan tourists. The weather was cold but comfortable, requiring a jacket. After a reasonably good dinner we proceeded to rest our tired limbs in Shanghai – Lansheng hotel located in Hong Kou. An excellent hotel by all standards.

Figure 1 - The main lobby

Figure 2 - Early morning view of the city from our room on 23rd floor

22 April 2011 – Shanghai

Shanghai, Hu for short, is a renowned international metropolis drawing more and more attention from all over the world. Situated on the estuary of Yangtze River, Shanghai serves as the most influential economic, financial, international trade, cultural, science and technology center in East China. Also it is a popular tourist destination; visitors can sense the pulsating development of modern China. With a population of more than 23 million (with over 9 million migrants), is the second largest and most developed city in China.

Despite strict government regulations, foreign trade in China expanded during the late 18th century and early 19th century. As trade grew, the West found they had a large and rising trade deficit with China. They were increasingly anxious to balance their trade. Yet the Chinese, having a self-sufficient economy, showed little interest in Western products. Finally, in 1820, the West found a product which China did not have, opium. Between 1829 and 1855, opium smuggling developed rapidly along China's South Coast. Faced with this problem, the Chinese government ordered that Canton should be completely closed to foreign trade. This led the British to open hostilities and started the Opium War. The Opium War, which lasted from 1840 to 1842, ended with China losing and signing the ‘Treaty of Nanjing and supplement treaties’ which opened China to the world. Thereafter the port of Shanghai was opened to British trade. Once a small fishing village on the edge of the muddy Huang Pu River, it has become one of the world's most modern and sophisticated cities.

Figure 3 - Very aggressive salesmen. Jai buying a pair of skates for Grand Son

Figure 4 - Market area. Notice the traditional style of Chinese architecture

Our first place of visit was to Yuyuan garden.

The garden was first established in 1559 as a private garden created by Pan Yunduan, who spent almost 20 years building a garden to please his father Pan En, a high-ranking official in the Ming Dynasty, during his father's old age. Over the years, the gardens fell into disrepair until about 1760 when bought by merchants, before suffering extensive damage in the 19th century. They were repaired by the Shanghai government from 1956–1961, opened to the public in 1961, and declared a national monument in 1982.

The garden houses - Grand Rockery, Heralding Spring Hall (Dianchun), Inner Garden, Jade Magnificence Hall (Yuhua) and Lotus Pool. We spent close to two hours walking through the garden and enjoying the delicate mix of greenery, flowers, stones and water. Aileen explained the details with great interest and kept us amused with her little antics and jokes. Her laughter is contagious and the good mood permeated to all of us in large measure. The whole time was spent in photography. Once again their penchant for cleanliness stands out. The garden is extremely well maintained and clean, in spite of large number of tourists visiting the place.

Figure 5 - The entrance is through a market

Figure 6 - One of the by lanes

Figure 7 - Sansui hall

Figure 8 - Inside the courtyard of Sansui hall. Window architecture on display

Figure 9 - Lanterns’ of Sansui hall

Figure 10 - Rockery and water body.

Figure 11 - Some more rock garden

Figure 12 – Aileen explaining the details

Figure 13 - Shadows at play

Figure 14 - Pavilions for watching the water flow

Figure 15 - Photo op

Figure 16 - Three dimensional window carving. Windows are not reserved for buildings alone. In Chinese garden architecture they are often placed in the garden wall to either frame a scene or, as in this picture, present a tableau.

Figure 17 - Waiting to be photographed

Figure 18 - Another tableau

Figure 19 - Caves in the rock garden

Figure 20 - Water, stone, greenery and flowers striking a beautiful balance

Figure 21 - Some more

Figure 22 - It’s extremely soothing to watch the rockery

Figure 23 - Four clawed dragon enriching the garden. Five claws are reserved for royalty only.

Figure 24 - Hall of harmony

Figure 25 - Dragon running through the garden

Figure 26 - The dragon and the angels

Figure 27 - Navin takes the broom - Kats better watch out

Figure 28 – Jade plays an important role in Chinese garden architecture. They create a well-balanced composition, which is very important in Chinese garden art.

Figure 29 - A distant view. All peace and tranquility

Figure 30 - A very serious Prassu

Figure 31 - Aileen and I

Figure 32 - This part of the inner garden is home to a number of gold fish

Figure 33 - Another part of the garden

Figure 34 - Complementing the flowers

Figure 35 - Jai at the entrance

Figure 36 – The famous three jade carvings in the backdrop. Covered Bridge on the left. The gardens are designed to experience nature in all seasons and weather.

Figure 37 - Another view

Figure 38 - Dragon tail roofs and lions at the entrance

Figure 39 - Various types of roof tops

Figure 40 - Some more window architecture

Figure 41 - Old meets modern - a sky scraper at the back

Figure 42 - Theatre in the inner garden

Figure 43 - Details of the unique Jing Brick.

Figure 44 - The brick

Figure 45 - A traditional building in the entrance to the garden

Figure 46 - Very very happy

Figure 47 - People waiting in a serpentine queue to relish Nan Xiang buns outside the garden – a very unusual sight. Must be a very popular restaurant.

Figure 48 - To reach the main gate of Yu Yuan, you must cross a zigzag bridge so you don't bring evil spirits with you.

After a well deserved hamburger from MacDonalds' and a cup of coffee from Starbucks, we followed Aileen to see the modern Shanghai. We started with the Bund. The Bund, also called Zhongshan Dong Yi, is a famous waterfront and regarded as the symbol of Shanghai for hundreds of years. It is on the west bank of Huangpu River. The most famous and attractive sight which is at the west side of the Bund are the 26 various buildings of different architectural styles including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and the Renaissance. Before the 1840s, the Bund was a muddy narrow lane with tall reeds. It initially became a British settlement. After Shanghai was established as the trading port in 1846, a street was paved there and the riversides were reinforced. Then, rows of commercial buildings were constructed. As the UK Concession, a building boom at the end of 19th century and beginning of 20th century led to the Bund becoming a major financial hub of East Asia. In the 1990s the Shanghai government attempted to promote an extended concept of the Bund to boost tourism.

The Monument to the People's Heroes is a concrete structure in Shanghai, China. The structure is located at the confluence of the Suzhou Creek and the Huangpu River, within the grounds of the Huangpu Park. The structure was built to commemorate revolutionary martyrs as well as those who have lost their lives fighting natural disasters by the Shanghai municipal government in the 1990s. The structure stands 24 meters tall, and is built in the stylized shape of three rifles standing against each other. The Monument is surrounded by a paved space used by locals for morning exercises.

Figure 49 - The Monument to the People's Heroes – Jai and Kats

Figure 50 - Part of the monument

Figure 51 - Having visited

Figure 52 – A distant view

Figure 53 - Controlling the trees

Figure 54 - The famous Western view. Shanghai Pudong Development Bank with a clock tower and Shanghai Customs House

Figure 55 - North Building of Peace Hotel with green top and Bank of China

The British establish a concession by a forced treaty with the Qing Dynasty after China lost the first Opium War. Concessions were governed by the occupying country and were untouchable by Chinese law. The French, Americans and Japanese soon followed the British in establishing territories in Shanghai.

Figure 56 - Remember Ballad estate in Mumbai. Well it is the British Concession

Figure 57 - Notice the cleanliness of the pavement

Figure 58 – Pudong East bank picture. A remarkable view of the ‘Oriental Pearl TV tower ’. This 468 meters (1,536 feet) high tower is the world's third tallest TV and radio tower surpassed in height only by towers in Toronto, Canada and Moscow, Russia. Tallest building in China – Shanghai World Financial Centre building on the right.(492 meters)

Figure 59 - A big moment

Figure 60 - Not wanting to miss out

Figure 61 - South view

Figure 62 - View from the monument square

Figure 63 - Photo op with a newly married couple

Figure 64 - What next friends – Dore seems to be asking.

Figure 65 - Bridge on the confluence of Huan Pu, Su Zhou and the Yangtze rivers.

Figure 66 - A small group within a group – all of us have something in common. Guess what!!!!!

Aileen took us to the famous shopping malls on Nanjing road. Today Nanjing Road is a must-see metropolitan destination attracting thousands of fashion-seeking shoppers from all over the world. Today over 600 businesses on Nanjing road offer countless famous brands, superior quality, and new fashions. KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and other world-famous food vendors line both sides of the street. Upscale stores include Tiffany, Mont Blanc, and Dunhill. In addition, approximately a hundred traditional stores and specialty shops still provide choice silk goods, jade, embroidery, wool, and clocks.

Figure 67 - Shopping Area

Figure 68 - It’s wonderful to stroll

Figure 69 – Models

Figure 70 - All the big names

Figure 71 – Unlimited shopping opportunity

Figure 72 - Electric cars take you around the area

Figure 73 - Expensive options

Figure 74 - Some more shops

After endless window shopping and lots of ice cream we bid good bye to Aileen and Shanghai – truly impressed with its vastness, modernity and cleanliness.

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