Saturday, October 12, 2013

October 12 - Different Strokes For Different Folks

I awoke very early -- and decided to begin my day early as well, getting out of apartment just around 7am intent on walking the Riverside Promenade -- the other side of the river from "The Bund" riverwalk.  It was a spectacularly beautiful morning and I only met one couple and a few maintenance workers during my waterfront walk.  The couple asked me to use their iPad to take a photo of them -- and so started yet another wonderful conversation, and they took a photo of me.
A fun morning conversation.  Check out the beautiful blue sky.  Another beautiful day in a beautiful city.

I then caught the subway back to People's Square and found my way to the Shanghai Museum which Lonely Planet reports as a "must-see."  I arrived shortly after they opened to the beautiful building in a beautiful setting -- rented the handheld audio tour guide -- and proceeded to tour the various bronze, ceramic, coin, calligraphy, sculpture, jade, furniture artifacts dating back thousands of years BC.   It was interesting but definitely not on any "must-see" list of mine.  In fact, the artifacts, encased in lovely display cases, would be just as interesting if seen as computer photos (like the many shown like this on the museum's web site here) where one could leisurely read all the details -- rather than so much reading (and listening to the descriptions on the tour device) while standing.  In addition, while the displays were created to be aesthetically pleasing -- they were not organized in any sort of timeline -- so my mind was constantly whipped from one dynasty to another without regard to a timeline of cultural change.  It didn't help that the museum quickly became flooded with the largest concentration of westerners I have encountered on this trip.  It's obviously listed as a "must-see" in lots of tour books -- perhaps because it's free.

I get it that some people are more attracted to these type of displays than I am -- but in a tour book I would write, it would be listed in the section -- "see if you have run out of other things to do or it's raining."

After this visit, I found some snack bar/street food -- and enjoyed a noodle/vegetable filled crepe:

Shakespeare said "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet!" but the question I have is whether someone would take the time to smell it if it was called a "turnip" or an "onion."  I believe it is this analogy that applies to my next stop: the Shangai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall.  Doesn't that just sound like a building full of maps and documents, like dry and boring environmental impact statements.  Even Lonely Planet doesn't list it as a "must-see" -- though they do note that it contains "an incredible model layout of the megalopolis-to-come plus a dizzying Virtual World 3D wrap-around tour..." of Shanghai.  Since it was directly across the street from the Museum (and next to impressive municipal building), I decided to risk the ¥30 (about $5) just to see the model and the 3D tour.  

It was $5 well spent -- even if the place is poorly named.  What a fun collection of then/now photos and interactive displays (both for kids and adults) and both the city model and the 3D tour were spectacular.  It is hard to capture the size of the model in this photo, but you can get an idea.  In addition, they alternated between showing it with full overhead lighting and with many of the building windows lit in a night seen.

Of course everyone has their own tastes but this is an uncommon case where Lonely Planet called it wrong for me -- as I would have made this Exhibition Hall the "must-see" and the Shanghai Museum optional.  Different strokes for different folks.

Andy and I headed out into his nearby neighborhood to sample more deliciousness.

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