Shanghai – tough if you’re a dog…

Hello folks

Have just left Shanghai and been in Paris for a couple of days and just loving it.  As you would.  We are staying on St Martins Canal in Marais – the gay district of Paris and is superb location for getting everywhere but we are loving the culture and laid backness of it all plus extremely good looking boys everywhere.

Shanghai on the other hand was just the most amazing city with a distinct lack of dogs.  We think they may have eaten them all. But more on that later.

Step out of the enclosed cocoon of your hotel and be greeted by smells,  sounds and sights like no other.  There is a weird overused Palm Oil kind of smell that wafts along every so often mixed with that sushi shop kind of smell. Plus mad traffic like you have never seen.  I guess with 23 million people in one city and 9 million of the on two wheels – life is pretty crazy to say the least.  Not only do you seem to bump into all 9 million of them every day on their bikes, the ones in the cars are sitting on their horns, just in case you have not noticed them.  Chaos best describes the roads, but it seems relatively organised and the norm is to aim at as many tourists as possible and beep you horn to scare the shit out of them just so they have enough time to run or jump free. They carry everything on their bikes, water, timber, kids (no helmets), food, it is unreal.

 But the vibe is awesome.  Just totally different to Australia and the cleanest city I have ever been to.  There are ladies in the street all the time with what looks like a bur bush sweeping the streets down drain holes and they stand on the side of the road and have no fear of being squished.  The metro was amazingly clean, no graffiti and when the doors open you just get carried by the crowd and deposited just outside the sliding doors.  About 100 people get off and another 100 replaces them -just like ants in quicksand.  Works like clockwork.  We only ended up on the train because our tour guide and us got caught in some mad traffic on the freeway and he had to collect a couple of aussie girls from the airport and was running so late, he chucked us on the metro and continued to run after them.  It was cool.  Another experience and we found out that the metro from the airport to the City of Shanghai is 7 yuan and that is less a $1.00 Australian.  We paid $180 for the transfer from the airport – so something to consider if you are coming to Shanghai.

But the bright side is we met Zhang (Tony) is his australian name and he was brilliant as a guide.  We asked a thousand questions on the way in from the airport the first night and it was interesting.  Then we asked him to take us to the Water City,

Rice in leaves and other shit…
Zhang (Tony) Alby & Ella

Ella is still recovering from the smells and sights but Allby and I loved it.  We drove for what seemed like an eternity (about 1 hour) north I think he said and we arrived at the Water city.  It is the way the true chinese (not that the ones in Shanghai aren’t real – just different to this bunch)  lived something like 700 years old.  Some of the cobble stones we walked on were 700 years old.  Incredible when Australia struggles to be 200 years old.  There was a river with a bridge every 100m and it connected a series of small narrow laneways to each bridge.  There were market stalls set up in them and the smells in there were less than incredible.  The very old stench of overused palm oil and then the animals they cooked in it were something else.  They waste not one little bit of any animal.  Ducks were kind of steamed and you could see every part of it.  Then the pigs laid out with their feet first, then their skin, then slabs of meat rolled up and then the head.  Ella nearly pucked at it all.  All a deep red colour like it was smoked.  Needless to say we have not eaten pork since.  Then the rice wrapped in banana leaves. A delicacy they say, but it looked bloody horrible.  The atmosphere was amazing – no one really pushing you to buy anything, but pleased if you did.  They all spoke english and we collected a few nick nacks that were interesting and hand made.  One lady did beautiful paintings in watercolour, so we invested in one of them.  It think we paid 180yuan but that is equal to about $20.00.  It is neat and no doubt will cost way more than that for a frame.

Tough day 

Making rice things – see the dead pork in the front – yick

Quite incredible how they lived and still live today.  Alot of their homes are now restaurants but you still have a sense of how life was.  Not the cleanest but certainly worked for hundreds of year

Back to the City and onto the Red Bus – the best invention ever – hop on hop off and there is a running commentary as you go along.  We stopped first at the Jai Mai Temple and that was amazing.  A huge temple in the middle of city – people burning incense candles and bowing before the buddhas in the temples on big cushions laid out for them.  Steeped in culture and tradition and very well organised and kept.  
Then onto the Jade Buddha Temple and here is my favourite buddha.  We met a monk as well and chatted to him for a while about like in the temple and of course he loved it.  There were lots of them scooting between buildings and classes apparently.  His main job was to clean the floors in the reclining buddha temple.  
A buddha at the Jade Buddha Temple
 – always loved him because I have a belly like that
 but apparently it means humungus wealth intead of fat – there you go…

30 year old Monk at the Jade Buddha (looked about 18)

Then there was a night cruise on the river which was lovely to see the lights and to stop after a day of walking.  We met a couple from Maroochydore on the bus and they were just lovely.  Paul and Margaret.  Margaret is an Anglican Minister apparenty and it is amazing how often you swear in front of someone when you shouldn’t.  Paul was a card, he is recovering from Chemo and bowel cancer and was very happy to chat drugs with Allby.

It just so happened that Matt and Wigg (my sister) were in Shanghai on the same night and we caught up for the cruise and had a great time.  We went to dinner afterwards and Ella wanted to see a shop so after we ordered her and I went for a quick 30 shopping spree in Forever 21 – a young chicks shop and we brought something like 10 bits for less than $150.00.  Just squeezed back into the restaurant at 10.00pm just before the man shut the doors.  Allby was worried sick but we had a ball. Wigg and Matt had been racing all over China seeing the best bits, the great wall, yellow mountain and a whole stack of great places.  Looked frazzled but apparently hung over from partying with some local Chinese boys the night before.  Good to hear their stories. 

Back to the dogs.  There just is none or very few.  We saw one scappy poodle when out for dinner and a lion dog at the Water City and a few on the road.  Wigg said that in some provences they eat them and they eat every bit of them.  Tastes very sweet but like Chicken (what the hell doesn’t taste like chicken – chicken of course – it tastes like DOG).  Tony said, not so much in Shanghai, but we were not convinced.

He told us all sorts of things about the culture, religion, government etc and a very different way of life. We want to go back again.  The shopping is amazing and if any real estate or sales person ever wanted to know how to sell.  Just go the markets.  Closing is their speciality.  You like, how many you want, what you want to pay.  Could only stand it for an hour and left feeling exhausted and wrung out – what a way to earn a quid, makes selling houses so much better.

Ok, had best run – its late and the troops are asleep.  Big day tomorrow in Paris.

Until next time – see ya.

Kendall, Allby and Ella – travelling europe.

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