Monday, January 12, 2015

To the Heart of the City we go.....

 7:30 Wake up.  Breakfast.  Buses.  Regular stuff.  :-)

What we did today, however, was NOT the regular stuff.  Today we headed into the city center and began to explore some of the unique and interesting sites of this incredible metropolis.

With a collection of more than 120,000 items, the Shanghai Museum displays some of the most culturally significant pieces of art in Chinese history, from the Neolithic period to the Qing dynasty – a span of more than 5,000 years.  Ceramics, (including Ming vases), painting, calligraphy, furnishings, costumes, bronze works and more are all a part of this four-story museum which was built in 1995. 

Ming Vase, 1355
We spent about two hours at the museum and then headed to the river (the Huangpu), which runs through the redeveloped waterfront at the Bund, the main road that runs along the Shanghai side of the river.  This is the part of Shanghai, which at its peak was the home to the biggest financial center in the world and had some of the most beautiful buildings in all of Asia.  There are many architectural influences in this “old” part of the city including those of the French, British, Russian, and even US, all of who had “concession” areas in the city at one time or another.  We walked along the riverbank or promenade – it’s a great place for a stroll or for watching riverboat traffic or gazing at the varied and ever-changing skyline of Pudong, Shanghai’s “twin city” just across the river.  Few people today take pictures of the Shanghai side of the Bund as their attention certainly is focused on the high-rise architectural masterpieces in Pudong!
The Gang of 60+ with Pundong skyline.

We had a delicious lunch at the riverfront and then headed to a nearby Silk Factory for demonstrations on how silk is made (starting with the pupa!).  We watched the process of removing the silk from the worms and observed how silk comforters are made.  Not many students were interested in the bedding (and I cannot blame them), and they continued to say,   “Where are the robes?”  I finally got permission to open the curtain leading into the Silk Factory Store and you would have thought I had opened the gates to Disneyland.  “Where are the ties? The robes?"
“Oooooooh” people shouted as they ran into the rooms full of beautiful things… was a memory maker.  To me at least.   Too funny.
Carl Lang models silk jacket.

I can’t say whether or not anyone bought anything.  (Ahem).  Gifts, you know. 

Next stop in our busy “tourist” day was the site of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, and exhibition, which tells the story of the history of the Chinese Communist Party. 

We had some free time near the museum, and I think students got a good feeling for how expensive this city has become.  We were literally in the middle of that part of the city housing Fendi, Harry Winston Jewelry, Maserati Autos and more….you get it, lots of money needed!  While we didn’t quite “fit in” we did wander.  And look.  And get looked at.  HA!
In the lobby of the Communist Party Museum.

Dinner tonight was, to be honest, not the favorite of most.  Unless of course you like spice.  And lots of it.  Still, it was good to have yet another “Style” of Chinese food presented to us – it keeps our meals interesting to not find the same thing over and over.  And over.  So far, that simply has not happened.

We finished our day by attending a marvelous show by the world-famous Shanghai Acrobats.  They performed pretty much just for us – only a handful of other people in the theatre, but wow, did they perform.  I may not sleep tonight if the thought of the contortionist woman doesn’t leave my mind.  After recently receiving a new hip it’s almost cruel to think that this woman could turn her hips completely around AND upside down.  Or something like that.  UFFDA.

Back to the hotel.  A tailor came tonight……….

Colder today – sun in the morning but cloudy and quite 
cool in the afternoon and evening.   A high of only 44.

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