Thursday 21th April 2011
MP3 track of the day: All shook up – Elvis Presley
Weather: The clouds have closed in, bleaching the sky white and creating a cool temperature. Spots of rain could be felt as I walked throughout the city.
Today I slept in and I wasn't out until 8:00am. Having had enough of 'the morning squeeze' I opted to limit my underground use by walking as much as possible. After two stops I alighted and, instead of transferring trains, I stood on the exit escalator waiting for it to take me up into the outskirts of Shanghai. The temperature was cool and there was a biting breeze blowing westwards; the walk was pleasant enough, if a little long. Luckily Chinese road signs always indicate which way is north, south, east or west; as I wanted to head east I followed a road in that direction. I went through the outskirts of the city, bypassing an infant school that was in the middle of preparing for an outing; four huge coaches were lined outside with 'mums' making it almost impossible for pedestrians to get past.
At around 9am I arrived at my first attraction of the day. 'Jing'an Si' temple is located on the outskirts of the city and looks more like a shopping centre than a place of worship. The ancient Chinese looking building, with it's golden towers and paint work, was impressive to view however it did seem to look too new. Conscious that this might be another 'fake China' attraction I decided not to enter and, after a couple of photos, I moved on. At this point I was hungry; I was still a little out of town and so I went into the first coffee shop that I could find. I ordered a hot chocolate and a slice of cake (original). It didn't take me long to consume my order and, after getting lost, I was soon walking north. After a good twenty minute walk I found myself in front of 'Yufo temple', which was a little more authentic that 'Jing'an Si'; I went to the cashiers office and handed over a crisp twenty Yuan (£2) note before making my way through the crowds of beggars, showing every birth defect under the sun, and into the temple. The smell of incense burning filled ones nostrils; I briefly looked within the many small temple rooms, conscious of people praying. Even thought the temple was small it was still interesting due to its dragon walkways, it's very impressive golden Buddhist statues and it's pleasant paths lined with red ribbon. I didn't spend too long looking around; I took a few photos before leaving from a side exit, to miss the crowds of beggars.
My next destination was an old industrial area which had been turned into an art village; within the old, renovated, factory buildings now stood many art galleries. I peered through the windows at some wonderful, and bizarre, works. With it's narrow cobbled walkways, old industrial buildings and partly knocked down walks the whole village felt like an area of creation; I would have spent longer looking however I seemed to be the only one there. Most of the gallery doors were open, but no one seemed to be inside; I limited myself to peering through the windows before departing, heading for the underground and back to my hostel. The time was midday and it was starting to spit with rain.
The nearest underground station was at Shanghai's main train station. As I would be leaving from here tomorrow I had a quick look around, to familiarise myself, before making the long underground walk to lines three and four. Even though it was midday it was still busy; as I had to be at the station for 5:30pm tomorrow (which is a Friday) I reckon it's going to be packed. I may leave the hostel early and wait at the train station for a while. Once back at the hostel I had lunch before surfing the internet to keep up with world events. I performed research into the 'Chinese May week holiday' before watching a film, waiting for the nights sky to fall upon Shanghai.
The film 'Firewall' (staring Harrison Ford) went on a little longer than I expected; once finished I peered out of the window noticing that dusk had fallen. Before collecting my camera, and tri-pod, I walked outside and held my hand, palm up, to the sky. Not a drop of rain could be felt. I rushed back inside, picked up my photography equipment, before heading to the underground; night had already fallen.
It took me an hour to reach 'The Bund'. The time was 7:30pm and the place was packed with Chinese tourists. I found myself a gap, set up my trip-pod, and started to capture the scene. I took a few photos of Shanghai's financial district which lay across the dark, and still, waters in front of me. Annoyingly ferries, with more lights than Blackpool illuminations, kept crossing my path. I tried to time my photos when there wouldn't be any ferries within the frame, however their speed surprised me. Thankfully I hadn't come all this way to photograph the financial district, I was more interested in the old British buildings on my side of the river. I quickly took as many night photos as possible, conscious that I could feel spots of rain fall onto my hands. I took photos until the rain fell hard enough for me to abandon my photo shoot. I packed up and left 'The Bund' for the final time.
So tomorrow I'm off to Xi'an. I don't leave until 6pm however I plan to watch films until 3pm where I'll leave for the train station. As I'll be on the train tomorrow night you won't get an update until I arrive in Xi'an. Terracotta army here I come!