China 2010 Part 1 - Shanghai

My first trip to Shanghai was in 1997 when I was in National Service. That was also the very first time I stepped into mainland China. It was a trip to visit factories in Shanghai and Suzhou to oversee the production of some mega props which I've designed for the National Day Parade that year.

That trip had left a deep impression on me. The sights, the people, the sounds, and the smell of Shanghai were fascinating. The stark contrast of an ultra modern city of skyscrapers against quaint villages in the countryside was mind-blowing. And I told myself that I'd have to return one day to see more of this magnificent, massive, motherland.

Since then, I've made several trips to different parts of China for holiday or for work again. And of course, back to Shanghai a couple of times. Being the 4th largest country in the world and the most populous one, one probably needs his whole lifetime to see all of China, if that is even possible.

Riding on the World Expo momentum from my previous Italy/Milan post, this was a trip we made in 2010 to visit the Shanghai World Expo, which had continued into the tranquil lakes of Hangzhou, the bamboo forests of Moganshan, and the misty mountain ranges of Huangshan.

Let's start the ball rolling with the most populous city in the most populous country in the world - Shanghai.

A huge sign that's quite interactive and useful as we can see. The theme for Shanghai World Expo 2010 was "Better City, Better Life".

The landmark China Pavilion. The architectonic feature of the building was inspired by the Chinese roof bracket known as the 斗拱 (dou gong). 

Thousands of plastic crates forming walls and structures.

Probably the largest circular ceiling projection I've ever seen.

The Denmark Pavilion. Visitors can ride on one of the 1,500 bicycles provided around the pavilion. I wonder how many bikes would have been stolen by the end of the Expo.

The Australian Pavilion. The exterior weathering steel reacts with Shanghai’s temperature and humidity, deepening its distinct color over time and adding an organic elegance to the structure.

Locals in the subway. The best seller of all times at the Shanghai Expo was probably that plastic foldable stool. Everyone seemed to have bought one.

Waiting for train.
A good chat on the streets of Shanghai.

The old and the new, and the coming soon.

Locals' favourite past time.
The Oriental Pearl Tower rising 468m above the city.
A full 40-footer converted into public toilet and parked at a civic plaza. Probably a way to prevent convenient relief in public.
Crossing the road outside Expo ground.

One of our favourite hotels in Shanghai.
Door handle details at JIA hotel Shanghai.
Previously known as JIA, this beautiful 1920s restored building now houses the Cachet Boutique hotel (West Nanjing Road).
Main lobby of JIA hotel.
Wallpaper design and suspended lamp shade in JIA's guest room.
Beautiful toilettries in the bathroom.
Branded Buddha.
Falling asleep.
Sound asleep.
Visited the Shanghai Museum. A stone figurine from the Tang Dynasty, often known as the golden age of Chinese art.
Beautiful Chinese ink painting by Zheng Banqiao (鄭板橋).
A close-up on the strokes of bamboo leaves by Zheng Banqiao (鄭板橋). Something he was well-known for other than his famous calligraphy.

More beautiful exhibits in the Shanghai Museum. A worthwhile stop to spend at least half a day when in Shanghai.

The pearlescent Oriental Pearl Tower.
Dropped by the famous Peace Hotel. Unfortunately, it was going through major refurbishment and couldn't see its glorious facade.
The landmark Customs House on the Bund.
Looking out of a window from "M on the Bund", a popular restaurant located on the 7th floor of the Nissin Shipping Building at No. 5 The Bund.
Before our fabulous dinner started at "M on the Bund".
On the roof of "M on the Bund".
Locals gathering and watching TV in a shop.

Scenes from Shanghai streets.

Looking out of a window lattice in Yu Garden 豫园.
Roof eave details in Yu Garden.
Locals having fun with the koi fishes in Yu Garden. I wonder if they were also thinking of their dinner while looking at the fishes.
Koi fishes in Yu Garden.
Yu Garden is certainly a good place to seek some peace and tranquility in bustling Shanghai.
A flower growing out of a wooden pavilion wall in Yu Garden.
Visited the 1933 Shanghai (上海1933老场坊). This massive concrete slaughterhouse now houses many offices and businesses from the creative industry. Intricate concrete bridges weave across the building that were once the final journeys for many cattle.

Many spaces remain vacant when we were there. Beautifully eerie.
Light from an adjacent space passing through old cast iron grilles.
The massive complex of 1933 Shanghai with a beautiful façade.
Back to JIA hotel for dinner.
A typical busy junction of viaducts in Shanghai's cityscape.
Tianzifang (田子坊) - a classic example and popular case study for gentrification.
Tianzifang has been transformed into a touristy art and craft enclave with many cafes and shops.
Signs of protest in Tianzifang.
Some residents still live in the houses on upper floors. It's common to see laundries overhead.
One common past time for the locals.
More laundry overhead.
 Beautifully aged wooden door in Tianzifang revealing layers of time.

Art galleries in Tianzifang.
Favourite past time.
See local, eat local, drink local.
"Residents' Property. No entry. No photography". Oops.
The ever so popular Xintiandi (新天地), a car-free shopping, eating and entertainment district.

Magazine overdose causing doze over.
Hot day.

A panoramic view of The Bund.
Landmark towers of Shanghai - the Jin Mao Tower designed by SOM on the left and the Shanghai World Financial Centre designed by KPF on the right.
Another landmark building along the Bund - the HSBC Building.
Visited the 50 Moganshan Road, commonly called the M50. It's a contemporary art district with hundreds of artist studios and art galleries.
A good read-up on M50 while enjoying our coffee at one of the many cafes there.
M50 was once a textile factory complex. The former factory and warehouse buildings now house everything from tiny artists' studios to large art exhibition centres.
Art and more art everywhere in M50.
An evening at M50.
Seeking peace and solitude above the busy streets of Shanghai.
Visit to Duolun Road (多伦路), a historical and cultural street in Hong Kou District. The beautiful Xue Mansion on 66 Duolun Road.

Clearly, the Xue Mansion isn't as glamorous as when it was built in the 1920s. But it was still worth a trip into this big building to have a glimpse of the locals' way of life.

Peeking into a barber shop.

Duolun Road bustling with sights and sounds, with every nook and turn firing up with local food and a myriad of small businesses and activities.
No, it's not obvious that it looks like some other sports brand. Speechless...

Continue with Part 2...
Nikon D90
Nikon AFS 10-24mm f3.5-4.5G
Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4 DC Macro
Nikon AFS DX 35mm f1.8G
Nikon AF 50mm f1.4D
Nikon AF 85mm f1.4D

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