Trip report: China 2017

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Bamboo Grove
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Trip report: China 2017

Post by Bamboo Grove » Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:50 pm

I had a chance to spend the whole month of July and a couple of days of June in China, mainly Shanghai. I went to prep up my Chinese language and studied with a private teacher for four weeks, three hours every weekday. During three weekends I went to nearby cities to do some sight seeing. Here are some photos of all these places. I have been to Shanghai and Hangzhou before but that was in 1986 and they looked totally different now.

Shanghai

Some of the buildings I could recall but a lot of new ones as well.
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Same buildings in the evening
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Shanghai is famous for it's jiaozi (kiausa in Thai)
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I've always enjoyed Chinese food, this one is hot and sour soup
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and the beer was cheap. The cheapest around 13 Baht for half a litre bottle.

Plenty of fruits as well
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Some dishes were a bit strange
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Re: Trip report: China 2017

Post by Vital Spark » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:20 pm

Love the photo with the umbrellas the the neon lights. I hope you tried the 'pig hand desktop' - you might have got free wi-fi with it.

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Re: Trip report: China 2017

Post by buksida » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:53 pm

I know you haven't been back for a while but I'd be curious to learn about the differences between visiting China and Thailand.

Last time I tried to apply for a visa they wanted all flights, accommodation, activities and a full itinerary booked in advance. No chance on that, its not how I roll!
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Re: Trip report: China 2017

Post by Bamboo Grove » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:56 pm

buksida wrote:
I know you haven't been back for a while but I'd be curious to learn about the differences between visiting China and Thailand.
I'll add more stories and photos and thoughts as time goes by. It's back to work day tomorrow so my thoughts are elsewhere at the moment.
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Re: Trip report: China 2017

Post by Bamboo Grove » Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:09 pm

Shanghai had its worst heatwave for 145 years and the highest temperature I saw was 42 C. Most of the time it was mid 30’s C in the daytime, nights being around 30 C.
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Luckily, I had booked an apartment with two aircons

]
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I studied three hours every weekday with a private teacher so didn’t have much time for touristy things. Some things I hadn’t seen during my first trip to Shanghai in 1986 were in my itinerary, though.

I went to an old Confucius school.
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And Shanghai Museum
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And to Qibao, and old area in the western part of Shanghai, which had preserved some old style houses.
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Otherwise I just walked around a bit as it took me one hour (one way) to go to my school from my apartment. Luckily they were both quite near metro stations. However, I walked at least 3 km everyday.
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Re: Trip report: China 2017

Post by Vital Spark » Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:57 pm

Some really nice photos there,BG, especially the one with the river and the bridge. I just imagined Shanghai as being a concrete jungle.

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Re: Trip report: China 2017

Post by Bamboo Grove » Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:17 pm

Hangzhou

Hangzhou was also a place that I had visited during my first trip to China in 1986. As I entered the city, I could see the ugly, Soviet style tall buildings that seem to be the norm in China now.
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Hangzhou is famous for its scenery, the main attraction being the West Lake (Xi Hu). It was also a capital city of Southern Song -dynasty during 1127–1279.

I took the metro to downtown and I couldn’t recognize the city until I got to the famous West Lake. That was the only thing that reminded me of the old days. Mind you, that was still beautiful. I spent my first day and part of the evening walking around the West Lake area. There were also groups singing and playing traditional Chinese music and in the evening a colourful fountain show.
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My first visit had been in spring time and I think that along with autumn are the best time to visit Hangzhou, same goes to many other places in China and East-Asia.

Photo from 1986
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On the second day, I went to see Song-dynasty street which had old houses and lot of souvenir shops. Anyway, it was interesting to walk around the area. I particularly liked the old style crunching of tea leaves. When I showed that video to my teacher, she said that lot of manual work was done with singing in the old days in order to make the time pass quicker.
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Naturally I had to take a photo of a Bamboo Grove
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I returned to Shanghai in the afternoon. The train trip with a bullet train took less than an hour. This had been around four hours in the old days. A trip from the Shanghai’s Hongqiao train station to my apartment took longer than that. The highest speed I noticed during my trips was 306 kph.

Train in the old days in China
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Bullet train speed
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Re: Trip report: China 2017

Post by Bamboo Grove » Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:39 am

Suzhou and Tongli

During my third week, there was a football match between Bayern Munchen and Arsenal. I had booked my ticket already when in Finland. This was quite expensive, more than 100€ but I just couldn’t let the occasion slip by, right? The match started 19.20 but it was still 36 C. The atmosphere was great, one of the best I’ve ever attended. Both sides had their supporters and they were making a lot of noise.
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The following weekend I headed to two places I hadn’t visited before: Suzhou and Tongli. I had a bit of a stomach problem but that didn’t stop me from going after my class. The train trip was only 25 min and then I took the metro to my hotel, which luckily was just next to a metro station.

I hadn’t eaten anything the whole day so I didn’t have strength to go far away from the hotel. I had a nap and then went for a walk in the nearby walking street. It was dark and I could only see shopping areas so I bought a few things to eat and returned to my room.
In the morning I felt better and went to one of Suzhou’s famous parks. Again the weather was very hot so I didn’t feel like staying there for a long time. As I said, things are also prettier in spring and autumn.
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Next I took a bus to nearby Tongli water town. It’s one of the old style water towns in the area by lake Hu. Tongli’s area is quite compact and my hotel was in the middle of the town so it was easy to walk around the town. It was very nice and you could actually escape the crowds for a change.
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In most of the tourist places there are shops where you can have your photo taken wearing traditional garments, these are mainly for women and children.
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In the morning I took a boat trip around the canals and returned to Suzhou where I spent a couple of hours walking around before returning to Shanghai.
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Re: Trip report: China 2017

Post by migrant » Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:55 am

Great report and pics! Thanks!!
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Re: Trip report: China 2017

Post by Bamboo Grove » Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:00 pm

Wuxi

My last weekend trip was the one I was looking forward the most. I have been a keen reader of old Chinese literature since the 80’s and less than an hour away from Shanghai was Wuxi, where they make movies of two old famous Chinese novels; The Romance of Three Kingdoms and Water Margin/Outlaws of the Marsh.

I had no intention to visit anything else but these film studios and I also had my best accommodation for my China trip for this weekend. I had booked what they say is a four star hotel for only about 90€ for two nights.

I wasn’t disappointed the hotel was great, I had a lovely view over the city from my room on the 16th floor with the Grand Canal in clear sight and mountains on the background

Scenery from my room
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Something old left in Wuxi (from my hotel window)
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The weather felt cooler when I arrived and the buildings looked more modern, although they too were very high rise style.
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I slept well and in the morning I took a bus to the Three Kingdoms Village, it took about an hour. The weather didn’t feel any cooler any more as I walked around the two sights for about four hours. The things I saw just wouldn’t let me stop from walking.

The Three Kingdoms story starts with an oath in the Peach Garden. The three heros Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Chang Fei.
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The great strategist Zhuge Liang
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Cavalry
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Water camp
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Outlaws of the Marsh
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After seeing the sights and two very interesting performances, I returned to down town, had a bite to eat and bought a few cans of beer to quench my thirst. Had another great night in the hotel and returned to Shanghai for one more week the next day. At home I had couple of jars of wine.
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Re: Trip report: China 2017

Post by Vital Spark » Wed Aug 16, 2017 12:42 am

Great travel report - I'm thoroughly enjoying seeing China through the eyes of someone who knows a lot more about the country (and language) than I do.

VS - Hope you've finished those jars of wine off... :wink:
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Re: Trip report: China 2017

Post by pharvey » Thu Aug 17, 2017 2:32 am

Great "Photo Reports" BG - certainly bring back memories of my time in China.... Good, Bad and Ugly!

One place (from your reports) that I do regret not getting to was Tongli - I worked very close (approx. 1 hrs travel) for several weeks, but simply wasn't able to get the time off to visit and basically never got around to it (in all honesty it too me 7 years living in China to visit The Great Wall ( :oops: ).

I did however work in Hangzhou for around 2 months and was based in a hotel overlooking the West Lake - that really was one of the better projects. Early finish on a Saturday and each and every Sunday off - unusual for site work and plenty of time to explore (and get over the odd Sunday's hangover) :oops: :thumb: Although my time in Hangzhou was back in 2001, so much like yourself, I'm sure I would see many changes now - most not for the better.

:cheers: :cheers:
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Re: Trip report: China 2017

Post by Bamboo Grove » Fri Aug 18, 2017 12:30 am

I spent my last week in Shanghai, mainly spending time in school and at home. During my last day, I moved to a hotel closer to the Maglev station because I had an early flight. After check in I took a bus to see the Yangze-river as I had spent the whole time just south of it. It was near were the river flows into the Yellow Sea and it was really wide. In the evening I went to see the evening skyline of the skyscrapers and returned to my room for an early night.

Yangze-river
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Afterthoughts/experiements

Buksida asked me to compare Thailand and China but as he said my Thailand experiences are from more than nine years ago so I'll just write about some things I noticed and mainly they are comparisons between the China of my first trips and now. You can then see and tell how things are compared to Thailand and those who have experienced China, can compare these with their own observations.

Queuing

One of the biggest differences between now and latter half of 80’s - early 90’s was that people had learnt how to queue. Well, most of them had. I always used to wonder how same Chinese people are so different in Guangzhou and Hong Kong and Taiwan. The latters were so much orderly. In the old days, there was no queuing in mainland China, everybody just rushed forward and jumped the queue. It was almost impossible to get into the busses unless you used the same tactic. It hasn’t completely ceased but there wasn’t much of it. The metros had arrows showing where you should wait to get in and where the people will come out of the metro cars. Most people were waiting in correct places, those who didn’t were mainly middle aged women who stood in front of the doors and started coming in as soon as the doors opened. It must have been that they had learnt this behaviour in the old days. Seats were given to old folks and young kids or those who carried their young babies. I can’t remember seeing baby buggies anywhere. Those who were standing in the metro were always on a look out for someone to leave their seat in order to take the free seat. On my way from my apartment I always had a free seat as it was the terminal station. On the way back I had to stand most of the times. In the shops and ticket booths everyone was queuing and I didn’t even notice anyone trying to jump the queue.
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Re: Trip report: China 2017

Post by oakdale160 » Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:04 am

A Chinese friend who lived in London where queuing is a national pastime said something that made sense. If you are in a Q for bread in London, it may be a long wait, but you will get bread. In China it was never like that, there was never enough bread. So everybody scrambled.
Now there is enough bread in China so Qing is more orderly.

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Re: Trip report: China 2017

Post by Bamboo Grove » Wed Aug 23, 2017 10:40 pm

Sounds

I don’t know if other people remember well some sounds that they've heard during their trips or in their lives. I remember in 1987 when I studied in Guangzhou, the sounds of the trains’ whistles and the clatter of their wheels in the distance and also the voices of some night time food sellers in the university campus.

In my early days in Thailand I lived in Asoke-Din Daeng road in Bangkok. At night time they used to hit metal bars against each other to let the people know the time. This is a very old way of telling the time during the night and it remains in Thai language in the way they tell the time after midnight “tee nueng, tee soong, tee saam, tee see and tii haa” - hit one, hit two… i.e. one-five o’clock in the morning.

This time in the evenings I could hear the planes landing at the Pudong airport and the sounds of the ships’ horns from the nearby Yangze-river. Both were not loud and I could only hear them when it was quiet. One annoying sound that I have heard in many Asian countries is the smacking sound when people eat. There is less of that in China now than there used to be but it’s still there.
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