Sunday, December 7, 2008

Shanghai: Ren Ming Square

Shanghai was an interesting experience. The rate at which Shanghai is modernizing is amazing, but the gap between rich and poor is huge. There are beggars everywhere and they can be a real trip downer at places like Nanjing Lu and The Bund. Still, if you can ignore them Shanghai can be a lot of fun. There's a lot to see, and plenty to eat. If you like Chinese food, Shanghai is the place for you.

A little history...
Shanghai's history is relatively short compared to some of China's other cities. It begins with the Opium Wars, the first being from 1839-1842, and the second from 1856-1860. Basically the British were smuggling Opium (heroin) into China to sell to the Chinese in defiance of the Qing Dynasty Laws. The Qing Emperor had asked the British to stop, and also questioned why Opium was being brought into China but outlawed in Britain. The situation climaxed to war in which the Qing lost both times. These defeats resulted in a series of unequal treaties in which the Qing were forced to sign. Some of the results of these treaties were Hong Kong going to the British, and the concession of Shanghai. The Opium Wars opened China up to the world in a sudden fashion.

Shanghai grew from a little fishing village into the most important trading center in Asia. Different countries wanted in on the action and as such there were different districts, most notably the British and French Districts. The Americans eventually merged their district in with the British and controlled it jointly. Because of Shanghai's history as a hub for the world the people in Shanghai believe they are more modern, more worldly, more open to change, and of course more business minded.

There is a saying in China: Beijing Ren Ai Gou, Shanghai Ren Mai Gou, Xian Gang Ren Chu Gou
This translates into: Beijing people love their country, Shanghai people sell their country, and Hong Kong people leave their country. It plays on stereotypes, but I found it funny and partially truthful. Shanghai people are enterprising and aggressive. It's every man, woman or child for themselves.

Also I found Shanghai people to be the most rude and classless of all people I have met while traveling. In general the Chinese are quite rude, but the people in Shanghai take the cake, they are even worse than the people in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong if you spoke English they lightened up. In Shanghai they were just rude to everyone. Of course they all think I'm Chinese so I got the brunt of their rudeness. As with all generalizations it does not apply to everyone I met in Shanghai. I met quite a few very nice people there, but the generalization was my experience.

Short history on Shanghai
The Opium Wars

First I'll start off with the Ren Ming Square Area, the Huangpu Park, and Nanjing Road.

Ren Ming Square
Before you leave the MRT (subway) station you'll see a recreation of the 1930s shopping area.
Recreation of the 1930s shopping area.

Ren Ming Square

Ren Ming Square

Ren Ming Square

City Planning Museum at Ren Ming Square. Go inside to see a model of the Shanghai of tomorrow.
A model of the Shanghai of tomorrow.

Beggar and a child. Note that most of these children are orphans and not the child of the beggar. Often they will pair up to help each other out. The child helps the beggar get more money, and the beggars helps take care of the orphan.

Huang Pu Park
This park was built in 1868. Back then it was for British only and there was a sign that said no dogs and no Chinese. These were but 2 of the 10 rules listed, but you get the point. That sign is obviously not there anymore. I went on a Sunday and you can see people practicing Tai Chi there.

Huangpu Park

Mao's little red book

Tai Chi

Tai Chi

Master and Student practicing Tai Chi

Master and Student Practicing Tai Chi

I will try to post some Tai Chi videos soon.

Nanjing Lu
Nanjing Road - tons of shopping here

Also tons of beggars. I told this guy to leave me alone or he'd end up on the internet. Well, here he is.

Random Pictures

I went to a Chinese Tea ceremony. This flower will bloom when the tea is ready.
Drink up!

Street Vendors

The Lin Ping Area around my first hostel. If you want to see a throw back to old Shanghai go here.
My first hostel in Shanghai
My 2nd hostel in Shanghai

Remember this red urn from one of my Taiwan posts? I hope nobody's really using it!

Still many bikes, but cars too

Maglev train. It uses magnets so that it floats above the tracks. This reduces friction and allows the train to travel at 301 kph easily. It is a wonderful engineering marvel!

Whatever Wall Street English is, I don't think it's very good.

Um.... No Comment

Nobody obeys this sign. People in China spit everywhere. They don't just spit, they hock it from deep down. Nasty.

People in Shanghai walk around in their PJs.

Another person walking around in PJs.

No comments: