Monday, November 26, 2007

China - Day 8 - Shanghai

(above: Shanghai's business district. The sphere looking tower to the left is the Radio Tower Building, and the tallest building in the right portion of the picture is the tallest building in all of China and the second tallest in the world, The Shanghai World Financial Building.)

Day 8 was a bonus. Our tour guide informed us that our early flight out of the city had been bumped to a later flight and we had the entire day to see some of the city. A most excellent turn of events. Shanghai was a city I could get lost in for a least a week, so an extra 15 hours there was more than welcomed. We planned to visit a renowned shopping center, a really cool museum, a silk factory, and a nice Mongolian food lunch. Although, after our guide brought up the lunch not being Chinese food, I would have been happy watching paint dry the rest of the day.

So we headed out on our leisurely day of sightseeing in such an incredible city. First we stopped amidst the giants of Shanghai, the Shanghai World Financial Tower (pictured at the top of this blog) and the Radio Tower (pictured below).

Shanghai is situated on a river like harbor that runs through the city. More barges run through that stretch of water in a minute, than cars do on the 15 during rush hour...ok not really...but you get the's crazy busy. We walked around the harbor front for about an hour on what turned out to be a beautiful day in the city. The sun came out and a gentle breeze whipped up. I actually took a little break and found a nice little perch above the boardwalk and just took in the setting for about 10 minutes. I managed to situate myself slightly behind a little camera stand selling batteries, memory cards, film...etc. 2 younger guys seemed to be working the stand although business was extremely slow and boredom was driving them away from their responsibilities. I soon discovered that one of them was catching small turtles that were washing up from the harbor. Using a 15 foot net tied to a stick, he would swoop them up, wash them off, and turn around and sell them to tourists...salmonella included free of charge. =) The ferries and barges passed by at a brisk pace and life seemed to have a little bit more hurry everywhere around me. Jessica and Jim returned from their walk further down the boardwalk and we met up with the rest of the group and got back on the bus.

We were headed to a silk factory. Normally anything that had "factory" in the destination name turned me off, and drove me into a slow catatonic state...but I had been waiting to get to this particular factory from the onset of the trip's planning. Jim had mentioned that I could get a really nice silk comforter for my bed for next to nothing, and this was the place to get it. For some reason my American brain processed "silk" comforter as a comforter filled with little strips of silk as if somebody had taken a silk sheet and cut it up into strips and filled the comforter...Apparently I'm a moron. Or perhaps I never really imagined what silk looked like before it at least the manufactured silk that I am used to. Anyhow, to get this silk from the silk worm to fill a comforter a couple of things must happen. First the silk worm must spin his little cocoon so close to another silk worm doing the same thing that they both become intertwined in a little rat's nest of silken cocoonness. Thus creating a double cocoon that cannot be used for spinning fine silk, for shirts, dresses, etc. They then boil the cocoon and remove the worm(it helps to know that they aren't slimy earth worm type worms). Then the stretch out the silk from a little 3 inch ball to the size of my Cal King Bed and repeat the process about 500 times until the right thickness is reached.

(above: A worker boils the silk worm cocoons to spin the thread into a bundle of usable silk. One cocoon gets one continuous silk thread some 200 feet long.)

Anyhow, we got my new comforter for about 100 us dollars, compared to a much thinner down comforter the same size at 250-300 dollars. And I'm happy to report it is amazing, if you have the means, you must get one yourself.

We then made our way to the central downtown area for some museums and shopping. The Shanghai Museum of Art I believe it was, was pretty standard as far a museums go, except for its Ming China Collection. Basically a bunch of very old pots, to put things mildly. Jim took some sweet shots, I decided to leave my camera stored away. We then made our way to some crazy shopping district with more people and more stores than... I'm not sure how many times I can type the phrase "more people/buildings/stores/cars/bikes/ _____ than imaginable" without going just picture lots of people...or better yet look at Jessica's photo below.

I don't think we actually bought anything in this chaos, I think flashing your money here was practically an invitation to be robbed but the sales were awesome and the choices endless.

We saved most of our shopping for our next destination...and it was a good thing too for the prices were lower and the quality even higher than anything we had previously seen.

Shanghai was a place I wish I had more time in more than any place except for maybe The Great Wall. Have I the opportunity to ever visit again, I will without hesitation.

Days 1-2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Days 11-12 Day 13



Silk Trading said...

what is the name of silk factory ? is it tianhou silk factory ?

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