Monday, April 20, 2009

No Paint, No Gain.....transition to Shanghai

Well, things may have loosened up a bit here on the Internet front and with Witopia to mask my IP address for the occasional blockout, I didn't have to get rid of Blogger.  So in order not to confuse things too much, I have decided to keep this blog going.  After all, life is full of transitions, right? And this is not likely to be my last, so the title should still hold....

I arrived in Shanghai on the 11th, and started work on the 13th.  I'm situated outside of the city, in a place called Kunshan.  It is the home of a famous type of Chinese opera, and the birthplace of Madame Sun Yat-sen.  There are some natural sites around, including some lakes, and it is on the way to Nanjing (better known in the west by its old name,  Nanking), and the often visited cities of Suzhou and Hangzhou, both of which I plan to travel to soon.

I spent the weekend in Shanghai proper.  From Kunshan, there is a fast train that takes only 18 minutes to Shanghai station, traveling at speeds up to 150 miles per hour.   I was very impressed by the train stations.   Everything is  well organized and orderly, if massively crowded.  

The trains are well marked, there are dedicated waiting rooms for blocks of trains, and everyone queues up, no pushing or shoving.  The subways in Shanghai are packed, especially on the weekends, but equally intuitive to get around.  
I was able to find a place to stay near the section of Shanghai called The Bund, which is a beautiful and at night, quite a magical place,  the old buildings dating from concession days lit up and the boats that traverse the Yangtze River, which divides the older city from Pudong, brightly decorated with colored lights.  There is a smallish classical Chinese garden called Yu Yuan nearby as well, which you can only get through by passing through a shopping mall, replete with a couple of Starbucks just so tourists don't feel too far from home. 
English here can be amusing, more similar to Japan than India.  I passed a girl on the way to Yu Yuan wearing a tee shirt that said, "No Paint, No Gain."    The hotel swimming pool in a place I looked at today that I may move to had a sign warning that the pool was off limits to "people who don't swim"  and "smashed people."  (It took a few seconds for the second one to sink in.....)    The Bund is busy with construction--looks like a new highway going through between the old buildings and the promenade.  But just to be sure people know things are still open during construction, there is a sign to that effect.....

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