Category Archives: Living in China

Day Trips from Shanghai: Sheshan Park and Surroundings

Day Trips from Shanghai

Well folks, we are continuing on exploring and adding (somewhat) new destinations to our Shanghai living experiences – working out various day trips from Shanghai.

In this posting we will cover the trip to Sheshan (佘山) Hill.  

How to get there?  Take the number 9 metro line headed to the south part of the city – in the direction of Songjiang (松江).  Once you reach the Sheshan stop – disembark and look for a taxi just outside of the metro station.  Ask the driver to take you to any of the Sheshan Hill entrance gates.  We had a ride to the North gate as it was easier to get to according to our driver — the others apparently were more congested.  Admittedly, we visited during the Chinese New Year (the day after) hence the crowds were large …

China, Shanghai, Sheshan, Sheshan Hill
This is the North entrance to the Sheshan Hill park

Once you get to the gate – proceed to enter — there are no tickets.   Here is a gallery of some photos from walking through the park.   There are a lot more of these – I will publish them in an Amazon eBook shortly and will add a link on this blog.   It was very interesting to do some people watching while at Sheshan Hill – the day after Chinese New Year was sunny and relatively warm, which helped.

China, Shanghai, Sheshan, Sheshan Hill
Resting before the next leg of the Sheshan Hill climb
China, Shanghai, Sheshan, Sheshan Hill
The roofs of Sheshan Hill
China, Shanghai, Sheshan, Sheshan Hill
Time for a picnic
China, Shanghai, Sheshan
The crowds on the day after Chinese New Year were large…
China, Shanghai, Sheshan, Sheshan Hill
The Basilica at Sheshan Hill
China, Shanghai, Sheshan, Sheshan Hill
The newborn enjoying the Chinese New Year outing
China, Shanghai, Sheshan, Sheshan Hill
Happy girl celebrating Chinese New Year with an outdoor fun chasing soap bubbles

There were tons of kids chasing soap bubbles and overall having fun

China, Shanghai, Sheshan hill, Bamboo
Sheshan hill has also a sizable bamboo grove…

Have a great trip!

                                                       

 

 

Chinese New Year in Shanghai

Chinese New Year

China, Chinese New Year, LanternShanghai is one of the best places in the world to experience Chinese New Year… Why you may ask?  Because here, in this city, you have the opportunity to see both the old and the new traditions associated with this holiday.  

As I mentioned in my earlier posting, Shanghai becomes relatively empty during the New Year holiday.  As a result you have to “fight” with significantly fewer people when going out to check out the various happenings.

Here is one of the good options for experiencing the celebration in a traditional local way – pay a visit to the Longhua Temple in Southwest Shanghai.   The temple is located at Long Hua Road – in Chinese characters it is 龙华路853 

How do you get there?  Obviously, taking a cab to the address listed above is one – easier- way, but I would suggest to get on the number 9 line and just head to the Long Hua Road metro stop.

Going to this temple will allow you to see the Shanghai people in action – payers are in full swing, tons of special prayer envelopes and banners are being handled and of course you get to see and hear the sounds of the festival.

The temple bell is also omnipresent – striking it is a symbol of the new year, and also a method for chasing away the evil spirits.   As a result we heard the bell multiple times while at the temple on the 16th of February – New Year’s Day – in 2018;

Here are some of the photos we took from visiting the temple on the first day of the New Year of the Dog

China, Shanghai, Longhua Temple, Chinese New Year
The Pagoda…It has seen a lot over the ages…

China, Shanghai, Longhua Temple, Chinese New Year

China, Shanghai, Longhua Temple, Chinese New Year
I believe my wife and I took a photo at this pagoda back in 1990…
China, Shanghai, Longhua Temple, Chinese New Year
Praying for good fortunes throughout 2018

 

China, Shanghai, Longhua Temple, Chinese New Year
The temple gates
China, Shanghai, Longhua Temple, Chinese New Year
Of course, the burning of prayer envelopes is well supervised by real firefighters….
China, Shanghai, Longhua Temple, Chinese New Year
More of the Temple Gates

                                                   

China, Shanghai, Chinese New Year, Longhua Temple
The red lanterns were pretty much everywhere
China, Shanghai, Chinese New Year, Longhua temple
Do you think there are enough lanterns here…?
China, Shanghai, Chinese New Year, Longhua temple
The mystic temple entrance gates…Spooky…!

Well, in the future, if you are planning to be in Shanghai for Chinese New Year, and have some time on your hands, you should plan to explore the Longhua Temple…!

Day Trips From Shanghai: Next One – Shaoxing Trip

Day Trips from Shanghai

I started earlier in 2017 to capture some ideas for visitors and residents for day trips from Shanghai.   Since then, I posted on Fengjing, Nanjing, Nanxiang,   

Next, let’s go to Shaoxing.  The city is located about 230 km mostly south (and somewhat west) of Shanghai.  It is on the high-speed train   path to multiple cities in the region, thus relatively easily accessible –  even during Chinese New Year – which is when we visited.

Included below are some photos from the trip to Luxun’s native place.   Upon arrival at the train station – Shaoxing North Station – look for the signs for taxi and take one – the bus takes over 1 hour and 10-15 minutes so the taxi is a better choice if you are on a limited time schedule.  The fare to Luxun’s place with the cab should be 55-60RMB.

The entrance to the Luxun compound is from the ZhongXing Zhong Lu.  In the first photo below you can see how that entrance is decked out for Chinese New Year — all in red lanterns… pretty cute.

China, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Lu Xun China, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Love you! Xun, Luxun

China, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Love you! Xun, Luxun
Luxun’s native place…as the sign says…
China, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Love you! Xun, Luxun
Canals in Shaoxing, Waiting to take you on a tour
China, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Love you! Xun, Luxun
Local boat tour guide in Shaoxing
China, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Love you! Xun, Luxun
Shaoxing Canals, calm and reflective
China, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Love you! Xun, Luxun
Luxun’s parental house
China, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Love you! Xun, Luxun
More of Luxun’s parental home
China, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Love you! Xun, Luxun
A courtyard in Luxun’s parental home
China, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Love you! Xun, Luxun
The roofs of the complex are interesting….
China, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Love you! Xun, Luxun
Then, there was the art of hand painting fans for the visitors…. Looks like old folk art
China, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Love you! Xun, Luxun
Yum-yum…dry cured duck and fish…

                                                         

China, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Love you! Xun, Luxun
A passageway in Luxun’s parental home complex

Hopefully the images above gave you some idea on the place and what you could see in Shaoxing.  The place is often referred to as the “museum without walls” – there is a reason for that – a lot to see…

Happening in Shanghai – Couple of Days to Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year 

Well, I think most of you who read about Shanghai or live here and are familiar with the Chinese New Year, know that it represents the largest migration in the world.   As a result it the major cities in the country essentially empty out.

If you want to see what I mean and you are not in Shanghai these days, then take a look at the photos below.  I took them when I left the office earlier this afternoon.

China, Shanghai, Chinese New Year, Zhabei
Bike, anyone…?

China, Shanghai, Chinese New Year, Zhabei

China, Shanghai, Chinese New Year, Zhabei
Another Lunar New Year effect – the bikes are idle…
China, Shanghai, Chinese New Year, Zhabei
OFO biles lined up for use…but all people have gone back to the provinces

Then there was the metro station — Hanzhong Lu is usually busy as it gets – with multiple lines changing there….Well, not today – the place looked rather like a ghost town.  Take a look yourself:

China, Shanghai, Chinese New Year, Zhabei, Hangzhong Lu Station
Hanzhong Rd Metro Station Empty near Chinese New Year
China, Shanghai, Chinese New Year, Zhabei, Hangzhong Lu Station
Have you seen the metro so empty? The Lunar New Year effect
China, Shanghai, Chinese New Year, Zhabei, Hangzhong Lu Station
Hanzhong Rd Metro Station Empty near Chinese New Year
China, Shanghai, Chinese New Year, Zhabei, Hangzhong Lu Station
Line 13 at Hanzhong Lu station – so empty
China, Shanghai, Chinese New Year, Zhabei, Hangzhong Lu Station
Hanzhong Rd Metro Station Empty near Chinese New Year

                                                     

There you have it – millions of Shanghai residents have moved out – as Chinese New Year is the biggest family holiday in the country,  people have gone home to see their families, parents, grandparents — so the city is kind of empty – which is also nice.  Time to explore…!

More photos soon…..

 

Shanghai Good Day and Bad Air Quality Days

Bad Air Quality Days

Shanghai as you know has its good and some bad air quality days.  It is never logical as to when the bad ones will be…At least my friends and I have not found out what the sequence of events is that leads to those cases.

So with that in mind, we have learned to take the good ones with joy and figure out how to deal with the bad ones…In the winter the bad ones seem to outnumber the clear days unfortunately.

To see what I mean – take a look  at the photos below.  I  took them two days in a row – on a Monday and on a Tuesday morning at the same place – at LuJiaZui at the overpass near the number 2 metro line exit.  Two remarkably different days only 24 hours apart…

The Tuesday photos shows one of the bad air quality days – with AQI readings in the 200s … Unhealthy!

China, Shanghai, AQI
The good air quality day is nice to enjoy
China, Shanghai, AQI
This is the good air quality day view….
China, Shanghai, AQI
Bad Days
AQI over 200…Bad…
China, Shanghai, AQI
Unhealthy Day in Shanghai… AQI is above 200

 

Shanghai – More Snow, More Cold

More Snow, More Cold

Shanghai has more snow, more cold coming….It is getting less exciting and more difficult.   Why?  I do not associate Shanghai with cold and snow.  

Also the taxi drivers are not exactly cooperative when the weather is bad – they develop this great fear of driving or even taking passengers.. 

Oh, well … So, today, the snowfall continued.   Not great for going out…but at least interesting to see

China, Shanghai, Snowfall
Xujiahui Road – from high…Snow keeps falling

 

China, Shanghai, Snowfall
Huangpu district in the snow
China, Shanghai, Snowfall
Xujiahui road
China, Shanghai, Snowfall
No, this is not a blurry image….The snow flakes are big
China, Shanghai, Snowfall
More snow flakes
China, Shanghai, Snowfall
Old Shanghai in the Snow
China, Shanghai, Snowfall
More of old Shanghai in the snowfall

China, Shanghai, Snowfall

China, Shanghai, Snowfall
Yesterday the sky cleared enough for some good photos
China, Shanghai, Snowfall
Mobike in the snow in Shanghai
The Pearl Tower in the Snowfall
China, Shanghai, Snowfall
The Robot is yelling…”…Whaaat? Snow?…”
There is no snow day without a snowman…a Shanghai street
China, Shanghai, Snowfall
Snow falling over Liujizui in Shanghai

Shanghai Snow – Cold but Different

Shanghai Snow

Does it snow in Shanghai?  Yes, it does.  Not often, but Shanghai snow is not an unusual event.  The weather forecast had listed snowfall in the city for multiple days over the last week or so and finally on Wednesday it happened.   I am not sure what all the excitement is all about, but the chatter on WeChat is strong and people are sending images left and right – seems with higher frequency than birthdays or major holidays… Go figure…!  I guess there are little kids in all of us 🙂

In the spirit of being here in Shanghai – here is also my contribution to the photo albums on-line:

China, Shanghai, Snow, Winter
Neighborhood street in Shanghai, Puxi
China, Shanghai, Snow, Winter
The snow keeps falling – Thursday afternoon, Xujiahui Road
China, Shanghai, Snow, Winter
Collage of snow covered Shanghai
China, Shanghai, Snow, Winter
The Snow and Wind helped clean the air…! Look at the AQI values and the sunny sky…
China, Shanghai, Snow, Winter
Snow covered Waitan…Surreal Shanghai
China, Shanghai, Snow, Winter
Snow in the garden below…Shanghai morning
China, Shanghai, Snow, Winter
The bikes are covered in snow as well
China, Shanghai, Snow, Winter
Who said it was just a dusting of snow….Zhabei, Shanghai

China, Shanghai, Snow, Winter
Snow covered street art in Shanghai

 

Air China – A Lot to be Desired

Air China – The Confluence of Weirdness

On a recent flight on the most likely the flagship route in China – Beijing to Shanghai on Air China – I observed some of the weird discontinuities with large companies in China

Air China pride itself on being the premier carrier in the country.  It has created elaborate checkin facilities, special security entries at the Beijing Capital Airport, and overall trying to portray itself as a world class airline.

Except, the attempts are not bringing the desired (I think) effect.   Here is my experience on a recent Beijing to Shanghai trip.

The trip started with me trying to do an on-line check-in.   This was quite the disappointing experience.  I do have Premier 1K status on United.  So, I thought, surely I should be able to see seats that are allocated to premier flyers.   Wrong!  If there were any, they were not visible to me or Air China did not recognize my status — most likely the latter as I did not see anywhere in their on-line system a reference to me being Gold in the Air China / Star Alliance systems.  Why?  No idea – but certainly a big disconnect in the quality of service if you ask me…  I would have liked to select and reserve my seat several hours ahead of the flight, which I knew will be busy, but no option for me….Hm… Not happy!

The next option was to of course pick up my seat at the airport.  The problem is – when I came to the airport and went to the premier checkin counter I got the  statement “oh sorry, only middle seats left…”

Then came the irritating “…you Should have checked in on line …”    REALLY?!?!?!?!?!   What a major contradiction in terms….!!!   

This is where I decided to have a good conversation with the Air China team at the counter – first the checkin agent and then the counter manager.  As usual in China, this resulted in a long conversation with the initial comments from the first line manager who completely missed my point and tried to convince me that the on-line check-in process is beautiful (his words)….to the point that eventually he admitted that “No, he has never used it…”   Hm….isn’t that great

Eventually through some “magic” (read – there was too much embarrassment) an isle seat materialized, followed by quite a few red faces and apologies….

Then the “interesting” procedures continued.   It is often in China to have to get to the gate, walk towards the plane only to have to climb downstairs to a bus parked right next to the gate to take you to a plane that is actually not on the gate…..Yes, that happens very often here.   What was annoying is that the bus which is supposed to take the premier passengers (in China they love the term VIP) to the plane quickly, left only after picking up 8-10 people only — it was may be 20% occupied.   The agent at the ground yelled at the bus to stop but the driver just TOOK OFF…. Another agent with red face….Enough said!

So, yes, the Chinese airlines, and its supposed premier carrier, Air China, are very focused on status and premium products BUT the delivery of those is pretty bad!  No matter, whether the online system or physical product ….it lacks in multiple aspects….

On a separate and special note, Air China advertises itself as a “proud star alliance member….” except it does little to make that be true…

Oh, well…..

Shanghai Air Quality – Another Challenging Day

Shanghai Air Quality 

Today is another challenging day for the Shanghai air quality index….and our lungs.   While Sunday was OK and almost at the edge of not being dangerous, today the situation changed quite a bit.   Not the first time (or the 5th ..)this is happening, but still each time causes a thought…

Pictures say a thousand words, right… So here it is:

China, Shanghai, Air Quality Index
Photo from Zhabei district, and AQI Summary from an App

 

China and the Endless Number of Rules

Rules

China appears to be a country and society obsessed with rules.  Over the years I have observed on many occasions how the rules are constantly repeated, over and over again, on the planes, on the train, on the subways, in the banks, and on the street…and those same rules are hardly followed and more often than not, actually broken.

Years ago, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I remember going to the bank and being very surprised to see how many people were involved in a transaction like exchanging US$100 into RMB…so in several occasions I used to ask in an innocent tone, “why does it take so many pieces of paper and so many people to do the transaction…?”

In all cases, my question was answered and if I continued to ask, I was usually stopped with a statement “Shi Guiding…”  = “it is the rule”

That actually meant “Stop asking questions and be quiet” (my interpretation)

Nowadays, the story continues.   I am constantly surprised by how rules are repeated on speakers and blatantly disregarded. 

For example:

  • I have been on multiple flights over the last 12 months on multiple different airlines in China, where upon boarding the plane you hear the statement that you need to shut off your phone and not use it while on-board.   What do you think happens on the plane though?  Majority of passengers – obviously very able to hear and understand the announcement stated in crips Mandarin, continue to use their phones, in some cases even making calls…
  • Then you go for landing at your destination in a Chinese airport – and immediately comes the announcement that you cannot turn on your phone until you are off the plane.   This announcement is “greeted” by the well recognized barrage of audible signals of phones coming on-line….
  • Switching to the streets of Shanghai – very cosmopolitan city with tons of people.  I am constantly surprised at the large number of people who try by any means possible NOT to wait for example for a green light when crossing the street…and all that in order to may be save 1-2 minutes of wait time.   It is really frustrating to start crossing the street on a green light and then out of nowhere you have this guy or gal rushing onto you with their electric scooter and beeping at you to get out of their way..!!!
  • Then, there is the case of the metro manners – you see the famous video cartoon that teaches all of us residents of Shanghai to be orderly in how we get on and off the metro – give way for people to get off the train before you get on….But then the reality comes in – I have seen it too many times – I am waiting for the metro to stop and doors to open and inevitably, there is the man or woman who comes and stands directly in the front of the queue and blocking the door for passengers to get off the metro car — in a singular objective – to rush and get on the metro before anyone else….

At any rate, so much about rules and regulations.  It is very obvious to many here that those rules are very much a guidance and not really to be “followed”  – right…?