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Mongolian Adventurers: Leo Murray, Mongolian Horseman, and Howard

Monday, July 12, 2010


I arrived in Shanghai after an 18 hour plane flight, with two stops along the way, in San Francisco and Beijing. My taxi ride in from the airport was a shocker, with a $50 fare, taking me to the wrong hostel late at night. Fortunately, my reservation was at a hostel just two blocks away. I managed to sleep most of the night, avoiding too much jet lag.

The next morning I arose early and spent the day scouting out the city. Much walking and many, many crowds of people. Almost no litter in the streets. Many sky-scrappers, with blocks of old colonial style housing, two and six story buildings with shops and restaurants on the first floor, interspersed. Despite the business-like atmosphere of Shanghai, hustle and bustle, there were a surprising number of gardens with plants, bushes, and trees along the streets. There were even planter boxes of green plants along the freeway, looking well maintained. Perhaps the cheap cost of labor contributes to making this possible. During my day's walk through the city, I stopped by the museum that features a remarkable display of Chinese art, paintings, jade sculpture, pottery, and coins, some dating back to 6000 BC. I begin to be able to distinguish the different styles of art and associate them with the different historical periods of China, the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. I also went to the Lu Gardens, an amazing complex of plants, rock formations, pools, waterfalls, and ancient buildings. I returned to my hostel exhausted from the day of walking and jet lag.

I have been enjoying rereading Paul Theroux's Riding the Iron Rooster, relating his travels around China by train in the 1980's. He travels through Mongolia and Tibet during this trip. It will be interesting to compare his observations with mine during this trip some two decades later and a China that is rapidly changing.

The next day I went to expo. It was raining and there were tremendously long lines, including an hour wait to buy a ticket, an hour wait to pass entrance security, then a minimal hour wait to get into any exhibit. The exhibits amounted to advertisements and propaganda for the virtues of nations, of little interest to the seasoned traveler. Some of the exterior architecture was exciting, of the China exhibit and several European countries. In summary, the day at expo was one of the least interesting days of my trip.

I returned to the airport the next morning taking the brand new Shanghai subway line for a 1 USD fare.

1 comment:

  1. glad you had a safe is nice to read your observations