Monday, September 05, 2011

Travel: Shanghai & Huangshan, China (24th-31st Aug'11)

Shanghai Metro Network
The last time I visited Shanghai was 3 years ago, and its Metro Network has expanded quite alot - just like the economy of the World second largest economy (The People's Republic of China). Everybody is busy making money, and after this trip, I am convinced that China is only growth engine in this gloomy global economic climate. However, the property bubble could potentially impede this growth, as I saw alot of empty apartments and buildings (outside of Shanghai) and lotsa on-going constructions besides those empty buildings (which I think are 3-5years old). It just doesn't make sense.

Visited a retail shop opened by a listed company that I invested.
I am disappointed by its marketing effort and shop assistant service. Qualitatively, this business is not as good as what I expected. Quantitatively, this investment is still attractive. Well, I would need to decide if I should cut loss, hold on, or average down. I really enjoy the analytical process of assessing a business.

This is not an aquarium.
This is taken in Carrefour in the fish section. I am surprised that they bother to add plant and goldfishes to beautify the "live food" tank. 

Gifts after visiting the factory of Hershey's near Suzhou. Quite an experience to see such a large chocolate factory and see its full manufacturing process. (Btw, I fell sick after returning from the trip after consuming too much chocolate).

Chinese Business Lunch - Very Hospitable and Painful.

The host was very hospitable by serving too much food (more than 15 dishes) and toasting wines to everybody. There was a wastage of food, as we could not finish it, but the Chinese deems that as a sign of being hospitable. They must felt that I was rude by declining the Shark's Fin Soup, not eating the meat that was served on my plate, and not drinking enough wine. 

It was painful because emphasis on hierarchy and seniority is very obvious. For example, the seating order is very important around the table - there is a center of power. The manner of toasting is important for instance a junior person should lower his glass while toasting to a senior person as a mark of respect. It is disrespectful if you don't drink. 

Well, this is not my first time, it has been a long time since I had such a lunch. I had been very respectful towards everybody and the local practice, but I was really happy when the lunch was over. Painful!!

My first ever visit to an oil refinery complex. It was Huge! In fact, photography was not allowed.

After the business stuff, I felt so relieved to extend a few days to go to Huangshan alone. 
I love the freedom!!!

First, the bus AC stopped working, and then, the bus stopped on the roadside with smoke coming on the front-left part of the bus. I was seated on the last few rows of the bus, and all the passengers were scrambling down the bus and saying that the bus is on fire and might explode anytime. Darn! Those Chinese were fast, and I was the last one on queue getting out of the bus. I was telling myself "Pls don't explode! Pls don't explode!". 

There was no fire extinguisher on the bus! The fire was put off by using bottles of mineral water and water from the river.

Police and the Fire Engine came.
I waited for around an hour for another bus. Interestingly, unlike other passengers who were agitated and were making a scene, I was quite at peace and reminding myself that this is part of an experience.

My simple dinner at the foot of Huangshan.

While I was having my dinner, I was watching a documentary about a Chinese mother who single-handedly raised 3 children as a porter earning 20rmb (S$3.80, US$3.16) for a single trip. In order to save money, her clothes were all donated by people, and she even wears man's shirt. Two of her children are going to university and she could not offer it, so the kids have to earn money during vacations for their education expenses. A lot of people's life are still very difficult and challenging. These ordinary folks are really strong people. These are everyday heros. Respect!

"Huangshan, is a mountain range in southern Anhui province in eastern China. The range composed of material that was uplifted from an ancient sea during the Mesozoic era, 100 million years ago; the mountains themselves were carved by glaciers during the Quaternary. Vegetation on the range is thickest below 1,100 meters (3,600 ft), with trees continuing until 1,800 meters (5,900 ft). The area is well known for its scenery, sunsets, peculiarly shaped granite peaks, Huangshan Pine trees, and views of the clouds from above. Huangshan is a frequent subject of traditional Chinese paintings and literature, as well as modern photography. It is a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site, and one of China's major tourist destinations."

Trekking HuangShan

Met 2 fantastic PRC families who took good care of me. It was through interactions with them that I understood the challenges and hopes of ordinary folks. For them, visiting Huangshan was their only travel plan for the year and the things on the mountain are very expensive for them. Then, I realized how fortunate I am. 

I was chatting with the high-school graduate (in the photo). He was leaving Ningxia Province to do his degree in Nanjing City. I could understand the challenge faced by a youth like him - being the only child (one-child policy in China), he has to work hard to meet the expectation of his parents, it is highly competitively in China to secure a place in good university as well as securing a job etc... In another words, life is tough!

It was always great to meet nice people! 
Friends are everywhere. 

Scenery of HuangShan is mystical, beautiful and awesome. I would let the photos do the talking:

It is amazing that pavement was built on the steep wall of the cliff.

The best moment of the trip.

People talk too much.
People walk too much.
People do too much.

I just enjoy keeping quiet.
Slow down and Stop everything.
Enjoy the silence and the scenery.
Feel the wind.
Feel the rain droplets on my skin.
Close my eyes for a moment.
Open my eyes and see.
Life is so Beautiful!


It was raining and too foggy. Spent my night in the mountain, it was quite an experience to sleep in the same room with 11 other guys talking about politics and social events in China (as there was nothing better to do in the mountain at night).

Back in the foothill, an old lady shared with me that Huangshan has changed so much. It used to have old Taoist temples in the mountains when she was young, but they were all gone now. I asked if the temples were destroyed during the cultural revolution, she didn't reply me...

The Bund never fails to awe me.

Beautiful Skyline of Pudong, Shanghai

This restaurant was recommended on some travel websites. 

The place was crowded with expatriates. I had a vegetarian main course & an orange juice (260rmb, S$50, US$41). The most expensive vegetarian meal so far. The food was not bad, but the ambiance and view was better. In fact, I was paying for the view.

This is my favourite photo of the trip. 
I have seen similar picture of The Bund taken from this angle, but I never figured where it was taken. This is the best place to take photo of The Bund. 

Exploring the Flea Market of Shanghai - Dongtai Road

My favourite game.
Mahjong on the Street. Cool!

For Sale

Old Toys 
(but not-so-cheap)

Contemporary Art

Cultural Revolution

Old Tins

Exploring Moganshan Road - The creativity hub


Art Gallery

I met an American lady and her Canadian friend in her Art Gallery. I had a good conversation with them and trying to understand the rationale of this young mother of three, who is willing to uproot herself from America and relocate to the Far East. The reason is simple - her husband loves oriental culture and art.

Lotsa interesting Art pieces. I did not take any photos, as I respect their intellectual property. It is very stimulating to see so many creative art pieces.

Laundry & Art?

Chinese Grafitti
- Bruce Lee & Panda!

Calligraphy & Grafitti

Mythical themed Graffiti

Walls of Grafitti

The Portrait is so real!

With a population of over 20million people, there is no shortage of creativity and places to visit. Well, that is the beauty of Shanghai. Love it. =)

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