Historical Walking Tours, Shanghai

April 12, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Statue of Christ above the door of the church

The last two Saturdays we have gone on walking tours with Historic Shanghai. The first included the Jesuit buildings of the Xujiahui area.

Background information: Father Matteo Ricci came to China in 1582. He learned Mandarin Chinese and formed a strong friendship with Xu Guangqi, a scholar and political figure. The Xu family donated land to the Jesuits who built a cathedral and many related buildings.

We began in the Virgin Mary Convent which is now a restaurant. It is very close to the original condition because it was a convent until the 1990’s, so remodeling has been minimal.

five story white building

We began with a lunch composed of traditional Shanghai dishes. All yummy, well, except for the spicy peanuts.

The tour included the convent, the College of St. Ignatius, the biblioteca (library), the cathedral, the observatory, and the orphanage. There were many more Jesuit buildings in this area, but these are all that remain.

To see all the pictures, click here. (113 photos)

The second walking tour was of the Bund. This is on the bank of the Huangpu River. This was the center of the Western business trade. There are several generations of buildings, beginning with late 1800’s to the present day.

We began at the former British Consulate and walked south to Bund #1 the Asiatic Petroleum Company building which is currently vacant. I have included pictures taken before and after the tour while walking from and back to the metro station.

To see all the pictures, click here.  (275 photos)

arial view of the Bund from the 7th floor of a building


The Great Wall

April 5, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

train platform

Taking a day trip from Beijing to the Great Wall at Badaling is one of the cheapest and easiest things a tourist can do.

1. Take the city metro train to the North Beijing Railway Station (3 or 4 yuan)
2. Take the S2 train to Badaling (6 yuan, really 6 yuan [$1.08] for over an hour on the train)
3. Take the free bus from the Badaling train station to the Great Wall.
4. Entrance to the Great Wall is 40 yuan per person.
5. When you are ready to leave, it’s back to the train station and another 6 yuan for the trip back to Beijing.
6. Metro back to your starting point 3 or 4 yuan.
Total 3 + 6 + 40 + 6 + 3 = 58 yuan = $9.67 per person

(Also note that the Great Wall is in the mountains, so unless you go in the heat of the summer, take a good coat, gloves, and scarf. I was SO cold.)

The Great Wall of China, mountains, blooming trees

To see all the pictures, click here for The Great Wall (163 photos)
Click here for our last day in Beijing (31 photos)

author on the Great Wall

So, now I have been to 2 of the 7 new wonders of the world — Petra and the Great Wall — only 5 more to go.


Bullet Train to Beijing

April 1, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

My intention was to do a blog post for each day of the trip, but that has not worked out. Uploading pictures via the hotel wifi is a time consuming project and I do like to sleep occasionally, especially when exhausted. So, now that it is day five in our seven day trip to Beijing, I am staying off my feet, hanging around the hotel room, and can get a blog post up.

train and train platform

It is spring break and we haven’t traveled outside of Shanghai since we arrived, so decided it was time to hop the bullet train to Beijing. This is actually a pretty easy thing to do, except for buying the tickets. DaddyBird went to the train station to purchase them, because he wasn’t able to do it online. Apparently, to purchase online you have to be a Chinese national. If you go in person to buy the tickets you can only buy “three days in advance” which when pointed out on the calendar includes the day of travel, so it is really only 24 hours in advance for all practical purposes. So, we left Shanghai with departure tickets only, no return tickets. Leap of faith. Since then, DaddyBird has been able to get a booking service to obtain our return tickets for us. This was important, because the tickets were selling out.

green field

The bullet train is a very smooth ride. There was a lot of farmland to see out the window. It was quite flat most of the way. It became a bit hilly around Nanjing, but flattened out again before Beijing.

green field with randomly placed conical mounds

In the picture above, notice the mound in the field. This was very common and appears to be burial mounds. Some had grave stones and some had miniature buildings (as shrines I suppose). The information I have read online about Chinese burial rites says that they prefer to bury on hills, but there just aren’t any hills for miles and miles.

a group of trees with several grave mounds

There were also sites like the above where a large number of grave mounds appeared.

lot full of CAT heavy equipment vehicles

It appears that we also passed the Caterpillar (CAT) factory.

There really wasn’t any area that I would call “wild.” It was all being cultivated. There were frequent villages and every once in a while a city. I saw lots of roads, but very, very few vehicles, even parked around houses. There were a few vans, trucks and tricycle carts, but very few cars.

We are staying in a nice hotel in a historic area of Beijing. The neighborhood consists of long lanes called “hutong” that branch off of one main lane that goes through the center. The lane is lined with vibrant businesses, restaurants, and bars. We spent the first two days roaming around the hutongs.

Pictures from the Train Ride – click here 118 pictures
Pictures from Day 1 (Saturday afternoon and evening) – click here 74 pictures
Pictures from Day 2 (Sunday – hutong and Qianhai Lake) – click here 239 pictures
Pictures from Day 3 (Monday – hutong) – click here 76 pictures

Day 4 we went to the Forbidden City. It was quite amazing and beautiful. It took a huge toll on my feet, though, which is why Day 5 is a day of rest. We still have the Great Wall to squeeze in before we leave. Hopefully, my sore feet and injured knee will play along for one more day of walking and climbing.

Pictures from Day 4 (Tuesday – Forbidden City) – click here 380 pictures


Thames Town, P.R.C.

February 28, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

neighborhood sign

We hopped on the bus, the train, and the bus to get to Thames Town. What is Thames Town, you might ask. It is one of the nine towns of the One City, Nine Towns project. It is a housing project finished in 2006 designed to draw people out to the suburbs. The entire community is patterned after classic British market town styles. It has been referred to as a “ghost town,” but we saw plenty of people and many parked cars, so not so ghosty after all.

 buildings of different styles

The experience turned out to be more interesting than we expected. The town is actually very well designed and built. It does not look like a cheap knock off. They did a good job of mixing the architectural styles, much like the real London.

nineteenth century style English church

They even included this church modeled after Christ Church in Bristol. Unfortunately, it was locked up tight, so we could not see inside. We are very curious to see what is inside.

statue of James Bond as portrayed by  Pierce Brosnan

There are statues all over town. Some easily recognizable, like James Bond, Winston Churchill, and Princess Diana, but others are harder to pin down. Mostly writers of different eras.

British red phone booth

There were red phone booths, but no blue police boxes.

It is a really lovely place. Too bad it is about 19 miles away from where I work. To see all the pictures, click here.


Guyi Garden

February 26, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

oriental garden and lake

We spent the afternoon in Guyi Garden. It was a long taxi ride (76 yuan – $12 USD – 45 AED). The admission is 12 yuan per person ($2 USD – 7 AED), so getting there is the expensive part. There is a metro station, but it is a bit of a walk. We took the metro home, but it was easier to find the place by taking a taxi.

The garden dates to the Ming Dynasty, as does Yuyuan Garden. It has been renovated multiple times since then.

mosaic of lotus blossoms

There is art everywhere – in the stone walkways, in the ceilings of every structure, and in the stone structures. The beauty of nature is not overwhelmed by the human art. They really knew how to balance and co-exist with nature.

rock sculpture

Spring is beginning. Trees are beginning to bloom.

white and dark pink flowering trees

To see all the pictures – click here.


Disappearing Shanghai

February 25, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

You might remember Dontai Lu, the antiques market. It has been under the process of demolition for months. This picture below is from September 2014.

partially demolished buildings still being used

The picture below was taken this week. Same street.

Dontai Lu area Feb 2015

Now you see it, now you don’t.

We took another stroll through the area this week. About half of the shops were closed, although this may be due to the Chinese New Year holiday. The ones that were boarded or bricked up are definitely closed forever. In a way it is sad, because some of these buildings were very beautiful “in their day,” but their day has passed.

To see all the pictures, click here.


Exploring Shanghai History

February 19, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

First, you may have noticed that I have not posted in quite some time. Well over a month, in fact. I, too, noticed this and pondered it for a while, because I just have not felt like posting. It is not because we have not done interesting things. It seems to be because I am so happy here. While we were in the U.A.E. I was posting to prove there were good aspects. Things to be appreciated. I needed that to offset the parts that were miserable. Now that we are in China and the job is going very well and we are finding it very easy to live in China, I am not as motivated to post to the blog. So, my apologies for the long hiatus. I will endeavor to do better in sharing our happy adventures.

We have not been idle in the last month. We took a walking tour of the Jingjiang lilong neighborhood. (CityWeekend article about the tour – here. If you look closely at the first color picture in this article, you can see DaddyBird’s bald head on the right under the lamp.) For the photos I took – click here.

brick four story building

Most of these neighborhoods are being torn down, but this one might escape that fate as there were some important historical figures who lived here and when it was originally built, it was high quality architecture and craftsmanship, so is much more durable than some of the other neighborhoods.

art deco style door in old Shanghai municipality building

On another weekend, we took a tour of the municipality buildings constructed under Chiang Kai Shek. For more info – click here. To see my pictures, click here. The library building has been abandoned for quite some time, but is now under reconstruction and will be used as a library again. I look forward to seeing it restored to it’s former glory and purpose.

Today is the Chinese New Year. I am told that the celebrations will take several days. We will be getting out and about to do some touristy things.

What we have learned so far:

1. Chinese fireworks are LOUD and not heavily regulated. Airborne fireworks are available to the average Joe. Some are the sparkly starbursts we are all familiar with and some are just designed for noise making. They make a loud bang when ignited on the ground, then fly up into the air and make another loud bang. The timing of setting them off is up to the individual, apparently. Therefore, it sounded like a war zone in our neighborhood from about 7 pm to 12:30 am. I heard more fireworks at 6:30 am the next day.

2. If one was born in the year of the Goat (Sheep or Ram), one should wear red underwear to ward off bad luck. All year. That’s a lot of red underwear.

We wish you all Happiness, Prosperity, Longevity! (fu lu shou)




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