The doors of China

The last couple of trips I have posted pictures of doors as seen here and here. Now when I went through my China pictures I noticed that I only had a few pictures of doors so I used some portals too. Maybe it is because I have rarely walked through residential areas except for Beijing. So it is misleading to call the post the doors of China because all doors are from Beijing. Yours, Pollybert

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The Bund of Shanghai

With the metro and the airport express it was no problem to get to the airport. Also terminal 1 was easy to be found in the end. Second station of the airport express (exit Terminal 2) and then walk forever. Since I had time and was in already in better shape after a month of traveling (to the day 1 month ago I left Vienna), no problem.IMG_2832

 

Around noon I arrived in Shanghai. Since I looked up the information on how to get to the hostel I was searching for a bus. After a while I gave up, a bus with the number 925 was not to be found. Since I had downloaded the whole information I took the metro then. Worked quite well especially when I figured out the the numbers they gave me for the station were actually meant as exits from below to the street. This was really helpful since my station ‘People’s Square’ had around 18 different exits. Some more than one km away from each other. With the right exit then the Mingtown Etour Youth hostel was just a step away.

I checked in, showered and made my way to The Bund. At the corner of my hostel I also saw the first Wifi Telephone cell. Loved it!IMG_2835

 

The direct way for me to get to the Bund was by walking through Nanjing Street. I think this must be the biggest shopping street in Shanghai. And right away I noticed that Shanghai is not for the backpacker. Too many shops, too much to buy. This is definitely a city where you arrive with an empty suitcase and buy a second one as well.IMG_2845 IMG_2846

In the hostel I had looked up online on what to see in Shanghai and found an amazing 10 points list from Time magazine. I tried my best to do some of the things suggested.

Finally I arrived at the Bund with a stop at one mall. Here are almost no public toilets, but every mall provides one. The Bund was full of people, always a good chance to ask someone to take a picture.IMG_2850 IMG_2854 IMG_2856 IMG_2857 IMG_2860 IMG_2861

A really impressive view wherever I looked and I walked it up and down.IMG_2859 IMG_2863 IMG_2865 IMG_2866 IMG_2868
I found these two buildings side by side and they reminded me of two other communist countries. They left on looks like a building in Havana and the right one like a smaller version of one of the seven sisters in Moscow. That was probably the intent, no?IMG_2867

 

By now I was rather cold though. After 30 degrees in Being the 22 in Shanghai felt cool in my skirt. Therefore I decided against the drink at the Vue Bar (number 10 on the Time list) but rather headed back in the direction of the hostel. In one of the food (in which they serve no food but only sell specialties) I found a Dim Sum place in the back. And since it was on the list of to do things I stopped for dinner.IMG_2877 IMG_2878

I still don’t know what to think about these. There’s a lot of juice inside. I tried the famous crab stuffed ones (the ones in the steamer) and the others were with pork. Both were juicy but from the second dim sum on I knew to take a small bite first, suck out all the juice and then eat the rest. Easier said then done when they were best eaten while still hot.

I managed though and since I was as tired as on any other traveling day, I went for a hot chocolate to Starbucks and then headed back to the hostel.IMG_2879 IMG_2880

There I found out that I shared my room with two Korean girls (who didn’t understand Chinese as well. Felt good to know).  Yours, Pollybert

Strolling through Beijing

Since Babsi had a strong wifi I used my Wednesday morning to update the blog again. With a VPN connection it was possible to work a bit on it. I had decided to walk that the day through the Hutong, shop for some presents (Babsi offered to take them to Vienna at the end of May) and then slowly make my way to the park across the Forbidden City to climb up that tower that I had missed the day before.

As usual with these planned things it didn’t work out. I sat down for a little Kimchi soup for lunch, and then walked slowly through the shopping street where I tried some Taiwanese frozen yoghurt. It poured on some frost sheet and top with mango and then cut into smaller pieces while it instant freezes. Makes sense? It looked better than it tasted though and it was difficult to eat.IMG_2807 IMG_2813

Walking through the Hutong gave me time to savor the Chinese everyday life. It’s crazy btw and colorful and crowded and just great to watch.IMG_2808 IMG_2810 IMG_2811 IMG_2814 IMG_2815

This furry part in the last picture is the back of a cat that was sleeping in this shop. I really liked these figures but they were astronomically expensive. I had to take a picture though, they were really beautiful.

When I ended up with 4 bags and the metro was nearby I decided to go home and drop the bags, then go back for the tower. Yeah, did not happen. I spent 30 minutes at home, taking pictures of the kittens and relaxed.
IMG_2801IMG_2803 Then I took the metro to meet Babsi. Tonight we were going with her friend Jennifer to a reading from Timothy Garton Ash.

We met her at a tapas bar around the corner from The Bookworm where we shared a pitcher of some Tequila/grapefruit/soda mix (very good, light and refreshing) and some tacos.IMG_2821 IMG_2822 IMG_2823

 

From there it was only one more minute and we were right on time for the talk of ‘From Berlin to Beijing: reflections of a political writer’. I really enjoyed it, such a completely different program from everything else I have done so far on this trip. And while I will miss one book club meeting while traveling this makes up for it I think.IMG_2824 IMG_2825

But right after the event we left and searched for a taxi. I wanted to be home ‘early’ to finish packing and get some sleep. The next morning I was leaving for Shanghai. Yours, Pollybert

Forbidden City

Momo had stayed home that night, maybe because we put a huge terra cotta pot in front of the garden door. Since there was no rush I had breakfast at home, eating the two tea eggs from Lucy and one of the melons from yesterday. The tea eggs are actually not cooked in tea but first 5 minutes in a soya sauce and water mix, then cracked and then cooked again for 5 minutes. You can according to Lucy add some salt, ginger, chilli or Szechuan pepper. Whatever is your fancy. IMG_2659

In between I updated the blog a bit, using the time to have internet available that was strong enough to upload pictures. All done while using VPN of course. China is definitely not easy for blogging.

Around noon I was ready to go. Since I met Babsi at 6pm for Peking duck there was no need to go home before. I took the metro again and arrived just at the beginning of Tiananmen Square. And right away at the exit of the metro there was a checkpoint. By now I knew that I can’t just politely line up and get run over by the Chinese. I used my elbows to stay in line!IMG_2663

Then it was a very long walk over the square. It was really impressive even with all the checkpoints, it’s just one huge empty square even though it was full of people. It looked still kind of empty. I can’t even imagine how it was on the 4th of June in ’89.IMG_2665 IMG_2666 IMG_2668

Babsi told me not to enter via the main gate since there were a lot more checkpoints but through the garden on the left side. The fee of 3 Yuan was worth it to leave most of the checkpoints behind me. Also it was an oasis of peace compared to the hustle and bustle at the main gate. Walking through the garden I arrived just at the lower end of the ticket office. I think there were at least 30 of them but with queues everywhere.IMG_2669

 

After I had my ticket I stopped for a quick bite to eat. The restaurant looked a bit depressing but the vegetables were good. Thus fortified I was ready for the Forbidden City.IMG_2673

 

One more check and then finally I was inside along with hundreds of other people. The Forbidden City turned out to be one hall after another, all called very similar names and none of the halls were for entering. The first one was the most important. This was noticeable by the little guardians on the roof end. The more little protectors were up there the more important the building.IMG_2671 IMG_2675 IMG_2678 IMG_2680 IMG_2682 IMG_2683 IMG_2684 IMG_2686 IMG_2689 IMG_2691 IMG_2695

Therefore the pushing in front of the door with the throne was unbelievable. I thought I would suffocate there. But I did it by pushing as bad as the Chinese I fought for a place in the front row and shot my picture. You judge for yourself if it was worth it. IMG_2700IMG_2699

As it turned out the halls behind the first one looked the same and had also (in my eyes) the same throne. I didn’t notice a difference.IMG_2704

What astonished me was that the place looked dirty and quite deteriorated. The audio guide said that the Chinese government is providing large funds every year for the upkeep plus with all the entrance fees, I was not sure what the were doing with the money. Seemed such a shame to let this all go to shambles.IMG_2712 IMG_2713 IMG_2714 IMG_2716 IMG_2720 IMG_2721Once at the end I turned around and walked back through one of the side alleys and started again with the right wing. Here the treasury was housed. With a little extra entrance fee I was away from the masses and here the Forbidden City was already a lot more interesting.IMG_2725 IMG_2732 IMG_2733 IMG_2744 IMG_2736 IMG_2740 IMG_2741 IMG_2745When I was finally at the end of the city again I climbed up the last hall and had an ok view of the roofs of the city. I saw a tower across the street that seemed to be a lot higher and thought about going there.IMG_2758 IMG_2759

Once out and in front of the park I decided against it. I was tired and needed to walk a lot more to get to the right metro for the meeting with Babsi. This was a very unwise decision since I arrived 30 minutes earlier at the meeting point and from up there I would have had the best view over the Forbidden City especially on a clear day such as it was.

Never mind there was still another full day ahead of me and at the time I didn’t know what I was missing. I walked for about 30 minutes back to the metro, found my meeting point and was happy to see a Baskin Robbins at the corner. That’s where I stopped and waited for Babsi and while doing so I had a small portion of ice cream.IMG_2764

Also very unwise (maybe it was the day for unwise decisions) since the Peking duck was still waiting for me.

But on vacation I am allowed to make mistakes, if not now then when?

So right after I finished my ice cream Babsi was already waiting for me. We walked for a bit to get to the Kerry Hotel in which complex we would have the duck. Actually only me since Babsi is vegan.

In good restaurants the duck has to be pre-ordered and The Horizon is supposed to be one of the best.

Since it was only me for the duck we cut the order in half and I only ate a half. We had a table from where I could see right into the grilling kitchen. I’m not really sure if you call it so since it is done in a wood oven.IMG_2779 IMG_2780 IMG_2781

Since the duck was pre-ordered it was at the table in minutes with the chef carving it in front of me. It is served with buns, pancakes and a ‘set’ which includes spring onions, cucumber, some sauce and sugar. The Chinese like to dip the crackling skin into it.IMG_2765 IMG_2766 IMG_2767 IMG_2774

I then asked the waiter to show me how to prepare it. Always best to ask before making a fool out of me. Really loved the taste and was especially happy that I ordered when I looked at what Babsi was eating. She didn’t look happy at all with her tofu.IMG_2771

After dinner and since we were already around the corner we went to Atmosphere a bar on the 80th floor of the building next door.

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From up there you have a great view all over town, plus they make lovely G&T.IMG_2792 IMG_2795

After two of them we were ready to call it a night. We eventually even found a taxi and were home in no time. Yours, Pollybert

Summer Palace

On Monday morning we woke up to Momo gone. The storm during the night had opened the outer door and Momo of course used his chance to investigate the neighborhood. Babsi clearly was not so happy, tried to find him already in the morning, saw him again up on the wall but the little devil was in no mood to come with her.

Since both of them had not returned until noon, I left the house with the outer door open to visit the (new) Summer Palace. With the metro (and a metro card lent by Babsi; really the fastest way to get around) this was easily done and in no time I was there.

The Summer Palace turned out to be not just one building but a huge park like area with a lake, halls, a harbor and galleries.IMG_2587 IMG_2588 IMG_2589

I was astonished when I realized how big it was. Also the restaurants were located in only one area almost at the entrance, so one has to take its nourishment when it’s available. I tried some cold noodles with a sauce and different vegetables. As usual it was very good. The tea I ordered with it was less to my liking, something restorative and invigorating and almost as expensive as the food. I decided I will stick to water or beer from now on.IMG_2591

 

The restaurants were all around a lake area, so I finished my round there first.IMG_2590 IMG_2592 IMG_2593IMG_2594IMG_2599

Then I started my ‘Palace’ tour and it was lovely. The gardens were so inviting (and the area was very hilly) that every half an hour I set down to rest a bit.IMG_2600 IMG_2601

Here you can see the Marble Boat that Empress Cixi had herself built. Apparently the money was more needed for the army during the Second Opium War but she got her way. Not a wise decision in the end.IMG_2604

The long and shady gallery invited not just me to sit down.IMG_2609 IMG_2610 IMG_2612 IMG_2614

More halls and steps waited for me and they all had similar names. Also in the way they were built I could notice no difference. What I missed were some living quarters. None of the buildings I saw gave me the impression that someone had actually lived in there. Or maybe all that was gone and they had just lived in large halls.IMG_2616 IMG_2618 IMG_2620 IMG_2621 IMG_2623 IMG_2624 IMG_2627 IMG_2628 IMG_2630 IMG_2631

 

More walking around looking for the right exit ergo the entrance (because that’s where the metro station was), another stop at an artificial lake, some relaxing rest in the shade and then it was time to go home and look for Momo.

When I came home neither was there but then Babsi came with Momo in his carry-on bag. He had still been up on the wall and with the help of the compound janitor and the permission of the head janitor to use the compound ladder (No problem! In China, no problem!) they got Momo down and in the bag. Babsi looked exhausted since Momo hadn’t been a willing participant in this whole adventure.

To make matters easy for the evening she called her colleague Lucy and we met her and her dog Didi half an hour later on the bike. Babsi is the proud owner of an e-bike which has second seat. And on this (I honestly think it is for a child) I sat while she biked to our meeting place and then to the noodle restaurant.IMG_2650

 

With Lucy as a local and able to really speak Chinese (I was impressed by whatever Babsi said in that language and even more that she seemed to understand what the people said back to her, but I think she is far from fluent) she ordered for us and this is what we got.IMG_2651 IMG_2652 IMG_2653

 

This here is the noodle water that they also serve for you to drink. It is very healthy and tasty.IMG_2649

It was so good and the price for the three of us was less than what I had paid a lunch for myself.

We had left the e-bikes outside, Lucy had a bike in the form of a little pick-up truck, and from the vendors outside who watched them we bought melons for home. Don’t they look yummy? Yours, Pollybert IMG_2655