Day three brought the rains and chill to the air. We would quickly learn that the pre-travel weather forecasts would betray our packing logic. Heavier coats and knit caps would have done wonders. Unfortunately, the only style of knit hat in the Shanghai area appeared to have been created in the image of a panda face.
First stop of the morning was a four-story “antique” market. Starting at the top floor, vendors sprawled across the floor, organizing their goods for bargin hunters to view. These vendors are said to line up as early as 3am to secure this valuable floor space. Cigarette smoke hangs against the ceilings, and you can’t help but notice the ignored no-smoking placards throughout. Vendors show collections of jade pieces, jewelry, coins, and kitch Maoist-era comics and clocks. Many items probably acquired through less than legal ways. Western faces stand out like beacons here, the locals don’t waste time on tourists. On the floors below, vendors upgrade to tables and even small rooms, all overflowing with mismatched goods.
Walking distance away is the Yuyuan Market. A collection of shops, mostly higher end versions of Chinese trinket stores crammed into the grounds of an old temple. With traditional stores, comes traditional foods. Inside, another dumpling store. We ordered soup dumplings so large, they were served with straws. While the ladies bargained in a pearl shop, I propped my camera on a nearby ledge to capture the sounds.
Warmth came briefly in a van as we headed to the 2010 World Expo grounds, with a special invite to view the nearly completed USA pavilion.
During the drive to the massive grounds, we could see the buildings around Shanghai (unseen so far since we landed at night, and the day one was primarily on foot in shopping districts). The skyline is littered with apartment buildings, far more than office structures. And each apartment building is massive. At least fourty-stories, people packed with people. There’s not cute, two story Spanish-style stucco here. Just hives. Heat and hot water is a luxury, and even if places have heat, the government controls the times of the year when the residents have access. The sides of the buildings are dotted with fan units, offering the only access to a breeze during the summer months.
Once our escorts jumped through the bureaucratic hoops to get us access passes to the site, a small group of us battled against winds and rain across an eerily desolate Expo entryway that would in a few weeks see millions of people at once. We entered a security checkpoint, manned by Chinese soldiers eagerly waiting for visitors to practice security protocol. Photos of the pavilion were prohibited, but photos outside of me wearing a hard hat was allowed.
That night, dinner was at Lynn’s (couldn’t find a website). Good eggplant.
China Trip Archives:
China: Day One (Sort Of)
China: Day Two
China: Day Three
China: Day Four
China: Day Five (Haibaonanza)
China: Day Six (Str八 Beijingin’)
China: Day Seven (Maozies)
China: Day Eight (Lows & Highs)
China: Days Nine & Ten (No Ruby Slippers)
China: Loose Ends