This photo-blog is designed to work either as a standard blog with images or - by clicking any image - a photo-album. To see an image in full resolution in the 2006 journey, click to the left or right of an image in blog mode.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Just Deserts in Shanghai 2005

Tree-lined streets in the district near the university

Just to get our own back on the Chinese government for throwing out everyone who enters through Nepal with no visa extension, we are going into flash back one year to our trip through China in 2005, starting in Shanghai, passing through Suzhou, Hangzhou, Huangshan, Yangshuo and the Dragon's Backbone in Longshneg and exiting through Macau and Hong Kong.

I had gone to give a lecture in Shanghai for a conference on mathematical chaos and complexity and we were put up in a hotel across from the university district with its relatively placid tree-lined streets.

We would have loved to have come in on the maglev superconducting levitating train, but for some reason (probably the excessive cost) the line shut down early evening before our flight arrived.

Giving my lecture on Biocosmology

Commercial district near the hotel

Church surrounded by capitalist imperialism

I like Shanghai because it represents the more libertarian pole of Chinese commerce as opposed to the heavy party political line that emanates from Beijing. Everywhere there were young lovers, concerned more about romance and technology than the politics of Maoist philosophy.

The fallout in Beijing

While we were there it was the 2005 anniversary of Tiananmen Square. The BBC and Google News were both blocked on the internet, although it was possible to access secondary news sites the teams of thought police in Beijing hadn't figured out to screen, so we did find out the anniversary. Unlike the diffuse 'nuclear proof internet in the US, Beijing has giant routers provided by Cisco in the US to control the flow of information in the 'big brother' age of resurgent capitalism under strict central control.

I asked people in the university how they felt about this and they tended to answer, "Would you rather live under a leader like George Bush causing world polarization?" - a very valid point at the time - and intimated that it would only be a generation before the old guard came to realize that resistance was unnecessary.

Two panoramas of the view from the high rise hotel

Image of the bridge in the distance in the previous shot

Internet image of the bridge

We spent our spare time traveling in the underground metro to get a look at nearby commercial districts, the waterfront Bund promenade and the resurrected section of traditional Chinese buildings in the 'old city'.

Crowded scenes in the underground

Florid capitalist architecture in the commercial centre

The pedestrian mall leading down to the Bund

Sham trams in McDonald's livery

Looking across the harbour from the Bund

There are a number of tourist scams in central Shanghai. In one we were approached by young girls claiming to be art students who lured us back to a warehouse where they gave us green tea and tried to convince us to buy cheap factory art masquerading as a college art show sold by a bunch of pimp-like guys.

The famous front of colonial-era hotels on the Bund

From the Bund it is only a short walk through a park to the 'old city' district.

Fishing for recyclable goldfish in the park

Walking into the 'old city' district

Scenes from the 'old city' - elegantly reconstructed traditional buildings

We visited the 'old city' a couple of times, once on a day walk and the other in the evening for the conference dinner at a restaurant famed for having hosted Bill Clinton, Saddam Hussein and others sporting their photographs in the lobby.

This is where the just deserts came in - not getting back at the Chinese authorities for thowing us out before our time in 2006 but celebrating Chinese cuisine in the forefront of high living. We were fed a huge selection of everything you could imagine as flesh, from duck's tongues to glutinous jelly fish, accompanied by strong liqueur which tasted like it had been fermented in pungent fish sauce, as well as a wild selection of choice deserts which brought the evening to a climax with everyone of the international crew present having to recite a song representative of their nationality.

A traditional tea house with moats and zig-zag bridges in the centre of the 'old city'

Everywhere the new rises above the 'old'

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