Monday, August 15, 2005

Century Park and The Bund

Apparently "Do Not Disturb" translates in Chinese to something approximating, "Ring Doorbell every 20 minutes and if there is no answer, have front desk call your room repeatedly to see if you are ok and if you want them to clean your room." Needless to say, it completely defeats the not-being-disturbed purpose. So, after not being able to sleep in like I wanted, I decided to leave the hotel and explore Shanghai.

First stop: Century Park. Shanghai's Century Park is somewhat akin to Manhattan's Central Park although you had to pay 10 RMB to get in ($1.12). In a bustling city of constant motion, it is the one place where you can go for some peace and quiet. There were times walking along the various trails in the park that I did not see another living soul for over ten minutes at a time. Glorious. I will add a new album for my Century Park pictures later.

I left the park and headed to the subway. Just outside I saw a man selling DVDs out of a box and decided to take a gander. Two words: Fargus' Paridise. Name a movie in the US that is not yet on DVD and this guy had it. I bought Star Wars Episode III and Sin City for a grand total of 11 RMB, or about $1.34. I thought for this price that they would probably be pretty bad, perhaps even a recording made with a camcorder in the theater, but to my surprise, it was a regular DVD with a menu and all. Perfect quality, just like you bought them at Best Buy.

I got on the metro and headed for Nanjing Road. I decided that I wanted to walk to The Bund and walk its length. I wanted to try and time it so I could watch the cities lights come on as the sun went down. I will post pictures of this also.

While walking The Bund, I was confronted with one of Shanghai's not-so-pleasant features, the beggars. Now, I know that all cities have beggars and homeless people, but Shanghai's homeless are heart wrenching. I passed a man today on Nanjing Road, a road just teeming with money and people with lots of it. He had deformities best described as Elephant Man syndrome... he didn't even look human. You look around and see Armani, Mont Blanc, Ferrari. People are willing to spend $500 on a pen and this poor man can barely raise the 15 cents for a meal. I tried to put this man out of my mind, but I could not. Later I gave money to an amputee, and while I was eating a street food dinner I gave some of my food to a man who looked like a concentration camp survivor. While walking along The Bund I came across one of the saddest things I have ever seen... an old lady whom I had seen begging earlier was lying dead, facedown in the same place I had seen her earlier. And no, she wasn't asleep... the living do not sleep they way she
was positioned. Someone walking along even poked her a few times with their foot, but nothing... It was horrible.

Well, I really don't know how to transition from that last paragraph to this next one, so I am just going to change the subject... since I had given most of my street dinner to that beggar earlier, I was starting to get hungry around 9pm. I went in search of a sushi bar and found exactly what I was looking for. I don't know what they are called, but you sit at the bar and a conveyor of sushi goes past you. You take what you want and at the end of the meal, the waitress comes and counts up the number and the color of plates you had, with each color being a different price. You can spend very little or a fortune depending on what you choose... my total meal cost about
$4 and I was stuffed. I'll put pictures of this up also.

Well, I am writing this at work so I suppose I should go and actually do what they pay me for. I'll talk to everyone later.