Friday, May 8, 2009

Taking the metro during rush hour is a bad idea….

I'll start the blog off with some photos since I'm a little lazy to bring them down under the text. This will be a rather long entry since I've been meaning to post some of my daily journals in here. I have 3 days worth of stuff to post. I'm still alive and safe! I have all of my organs and possessions. Plus we finally figured out how to use the air conditioner in our room so no more sauna's! We roasted at night since we couldn't open the window because of mosquitos.

Now onto the images!

Shanghai Museum of Science and Technology:
A wall with some flowers in the tropical area

Butterflies on the ceiling. It was pretty neat to see.

A bamboo bridge

Random food:

The traveler's club sandwich and fries.

Yuyuan gardens:

Another courtyard in the gardens.

Bamboo shoots against the wall at the gardens. (This is one of my favorite shots)

One of the courtyards located in the gardens.

Century Park:

The "Just for Laughs" guy at the park. There was some amazing things done with the hedges there.

Waterlilies! This was taken on my 50D (my good camera) so it'll look a whole lot better!

A shot of the beautiful trees and part of the lake at the part. This was taken near the floating restaurant. I unfortunately don't have this shot with my 50D because I didn't have the proper lens equiped.

Cash getting serious about his flower photos. Originally taken with my 50D.

I absolute love this image. It was taken with my 50D. We saw a couple getting their wedding pictures done throughout Century park and Cash and I asked if they didn't mind if we took a few shots. They happily agreed so we happily went to shooting as their photographer did.

Now onto the journal entries that I've been wanting to post.

May 6th

I woke up this morning boiling. It wasn't until I was getting ready to leave did one of my roommates (and staff member) tell me that it was already almost 30 degrees outside and that wasn’t including the humidex! I slabbed on the sunscreen and got myself ready for a hot day. It was warm but not as warm as I was anticipating. I've been drinking an average of 2-3 liters of water a day so I think that's really helping me stay cool and hydrated. I should start buying the giant 5 liter bottles instead of the 1.5 ones. I may make that switch after dinner tonight. I think I'll be getting a better value for my money not that water's expensive to begin with, it's about a dollar for a 1.5 liter bottle maybe a little less than that.

After lazing around the hostel all morning I eventually found my way to the metro station. It was really nice to be so lazy. The Yuyan gardens and temple. Words cannot describe how beautiful that place truly is. I spent the entire afternoon wandering around the gardens and simply enjoying myself. At one point in time it used to be part of a temple and part of a palace now it's mostly just a tourist attraction. There were tons of stalls and vendors on the way to the gardens where the shop keeps would shout out for you to stop. I quickly learned that much like the Silk Market if you keep your face strait ahead they usually get the message. I got stopped a few times by guys asking if I wanted a watch. I pretty much told them that I already have a great working watch which they'd ask if there was anything else I needed and I told them I simply wished to see the gardens. That usually shut them up. There was one guy who was nice enough to show me through the maze that is vendors and fast food places to the entrance to the gardens. He asked if I had any coins from where I came from so he could give it to his daughter. I did have a quarter and a penny but it was safely tucked away with my spare cash and passport and there was no way I was going to dig through that in the middle of the street. I apologize and told him that I didn't have any on me he said thank-you and was on his merry way. It only cost 40 yuan to get in which was really nice and definitely worth it. I've also come to realize that I may be an attraction for tourists where ever I go since plenty of people enjoy pointing and staring despite the amount of other foreigners there. It'll be really, really strange to be back home where people won't be doing that to me anymore.
Thankfully there weren't too many tourists wandering the gardens so I was able to get some decent shots even though the sun played against me. I can't wait to be able to get home to process these pictures, the ones I've been showing you guys won't do any justice with the ones that I've taken with my 50D. I've also almost filled up my second 32GB card on that camera! I may need to buy myself some more memory cards while I'm here. Luckily it's really cheap since this is where it's all made!

Depending on the time I had planned to swing by the Bund for some possible shopping but I ended up just taking the metro back to the hostel. On the way to the metro I passed through one of the more traditional neighborhoods which had a certain beauty to it despite the strong smell in some of the areas. It was pretty cool to see all of the shops with the fresh fruit in giant bins on the street and the smaller restaurants. There's no way I'd eat at any of them since on the way I saw one of them washing their dishes on the streets! That would have disgusted me but I figure I'm not the one eating there and if it's the only place they can do it then I guess that they're all used to it. I'm not going to be the one to judge how they live here.
Children were coming home from school so most would stop and stare and when I said "Nihao" to them they'd wave and say "hi" really shy and go on their way. It was pretty funny to see. They were all so curious! I even had some grown men stop their work and simply stare. When I'd smile and say hello they'd repeat it and laugh amongst themselves. I had initially thought that people were more used to foreigners here since I hadn't had very many stares until today. I guess I was wrong.

I ended up having to stand the entire way on the metro since it was rush hour! Just when I thought we couldn’t fit anyone else into the train 4 more people managed to squish themselves in. They didn't even need that guy whose job it is to force people into the train. I spend the entire journey squished among the locals counting down the stops until I had to get out. I've come to realize that rush hour on the 95 back at home will be nothing compared to what I've experienced here. There's a nice bonus for me. Once the train came above ground I noticed that there is a lot of construction. They're pretty much tearing down all of the older neighborhoods and sprouting up apartment buildings instead. It's kind of sad to see so many gorgeous buildings being demolished. I've also noticed that the walk from the metro to the hostel during rush hour changes a lot. There are tons of vendors (both food and clothing) that set themselves up in the streets while the place is basically flooded with people shouting and pushing to get to the food or to the metro station itself. It was really neat to experience. I was tempted to buy some more food on a stick there but I couldn't trust the meat too much since I wasn't sure how long it had stayed outside in the sun for before they started to cook it. The last thing I want is to get sick off of some bad meat. I'll wait for a more reputable looking place to buy my questionable meat on a stick again.

Yet again I'll be lazing around the hostel all evening. I'm hoping I'll be able to go to one of the nearby water towns tomorrow for the day before I head back towards Hangzhou. I'm hoping to be able to see the Star Trek movie this weekend with Martha. On a side note I'm also going to have to go shopping for some necessities such as toothpaste, shampoo, and conditioner as I'll be running out soon. That's going to be another fun experience that I'm actually looking forward to. I had so much fun shopping for shampoo in Spain.

May 7th

Today was fantastic! This morning I went out to a supermarket in search of shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, kleenex, and moisturizing cream. I came back with toothpaste, soap, kleenex (which I later found out was scented), and some strawberry flavored gum (a giant bottle of 56 pieces, maybe it's 40. I can't tell which symbol means what). It only cost me the equivalent of about 3 Canadian dollars. That's almost the price of toothpaste back at home! I also bought Colgate not some random local brand. I'm still in shock and awe at that. I have high hopes on buying shampoo and conditioner with Martha on Saturday.

I spent the afternoon touring gardens with one of my roommates and fellow photographers, Cash (He does landscaping in San Francisco and is on month 10 of his 12 month trip, he's been to Thailand, India, Cambodia ,Indonesia, etc.). Yes, it only took me about 2 weeks to find another photographer that's into nature photography. I'm pretty excited at that. I had fun sleeping in this morning before I slowly got ready for my day. I ended up leaving the hostel at about 12.30 in the afternoon. I had a club sandwich for lunch while I snacked on various foods throughout the afternoon. I got to try some watermelon on a stick. It was basically one giant piece of watermelon on a tiny little stick. It was amazingly good! I should make a mental note to eat watermelon on a stick more often. Or just food on a stick.

I went back to the Yuyan Gardens and took some more great shots, this time I had my zoom lens in so they were different from yesterdays and afterwards we went to Century park. We got a little lost on the way so we had to take a cab to get to the park. I think we got off at the wrong metro station accidentally and after asking one of the locals how far we were from the park we decided it wasn't worth the walk (It was about 3-5km away, we knew we were going to do a lot of walking so we figured we didn't want to do it right away). We got ourselves a little lost in the gardens but that's okay since it was absolutely spectacular. As we were making our way through the maze of shops we stopped and took some goofy photographs of this giant teapot and us trying to hold it up. That gave us several odd stares since it's apparently not very common for foreigners to pose in such manner. They usually just stand and smile. Okay, I'm guilty of doing that in a lot of pictures but I have to say that doing something goofy was a hole lot more interesting. It didn't take us too long to find our way out of the shops (after grabbing some Starbucks to cool us down since it was another sweltering hot day).

Century park is huge! There's a giant lake with several smaller ones filled with trees, flowers, paths, random gazebos, and other pieces of entertainment. We spent a total of 2.5 hours wandering around and ended up walking throughout the entire park. As we neared the end we saw on the map that we were almost where we started and told ourselves that we could finish the trail. We didn't want to give up so close to the end. We took several shots of flowers as well as various people in the park. There were a few people there on their wedding day so that was pretty fun to watch. We even got a chance to take some photos of the bride and groom. It was a gorgeous place for a wedding. I ended up filling up my second 32 GB card so I switched my saving format from both RAW files and JPG files to only RAW files. They still consume my memory like crazy but at least I can take an extra 50 pictures or so on the card. It's pretty sad to see an 8 GB card only hold a little over 200 shots. I can easily fill that up in an afternoon. I shall have to be more careful with my cards until I can buy some more since it's looking like I'll have to do that. I can't wait to show you guys some of my good pictures.

Since we weren't sure where the subway was we caught a cab and the driver ended up taking us to a subway stop (free of charge) since traffic would be too horrible to get to the other side of town. It still ended up taking us about a half an hour which wasn't too bad. Once we got back to our station we bought some ice cream and went to the hostel for dinner. At this point it was almost 7.30 at night so the sun had gone down. It was really nice to see the tall buildings all lit up. We've pretty much spent the rest of the evening comparing our photographs as we spent the afternoon giving out tips of showing each other great spots to get a photo. It was really fun to spend an afternoon with another photographer. I'm thinking of spending an extra night here since I'll end up having to wait outside of Martha's apartment for a few hours tomorrow (and the rates to keep my room for a few hours are quite expensive, it's much cheaper to stay the night by like 60-80 yuan cheaper. I've also already e-mailed Martha so she doesn't think I'm dead in a ditch somewhere. )There's this magnetic train that sounds pretty neat plus something about a circus. Circuses are always fun. I didn't get a chance to see one of the smaller villages that I had wanted to see but I'm sure I could find some way to see it when I eventually go to Suzhou (another smaller water town that's also nearby, Suzhou's famous for its gardens). Chances are Suzhou will look much like the other village I was going to check out so it's all good.

May 8th

First of all, Happy Birthday Mart! Yes, I remembered. May 8th. If I'm mistaken I'll blame the fact that I'm on the other side of the globe at the moment.

Today was another great day, Cash and I hung out again today. We went to People's Square which is more impressive when you get to the proper side of it. There's pretty flowers and architecture everywhere. We only spent a good 20 minutes or so there before we went off in search of the magnetic train. That was pretty fun. It went up to 300km/hour while running on magnets! The train never touched the rail at all. It was really impressive. I'm also starting to know the metro stations, which is great. I don't have to look at the map anymore which makes me look a little more like a local. There's a fairly large number of non-Asians living here so I don't get very many stares.

After the train ride we decided to visit Shanghai's museum of Science and Technology. Wow, it puts our museum back home to shame! There's 3 floors with several different sectors. I'm pretty sure we explored every inch that was possible to visit in the museum, including the kids section.

We started off by going into the animal section and it quickly turned into a rainforest type environment after showing us a bit of a variety of ecosystems and their animals (which looked pretty realistic). Some of the shots I took looks like we were in the rainforest. The ground was completely made out of stones and there was actual earth all over the place and real running waterfalls (man made ones, but still). When we got to the insects section they had a giant praying mantis on the wall that moved. There was also a giant snake, beetle, and another creature that I can't remember. It was pretty neat. We made our way into the technology section and played with everything that was interactive. There was this one activity in the space section that demonstrated the Coriolis effect. We basically sat down in this machine thing and shot rubber balls at targets while the machine spun us around. It was supposed to show that the movement distracts your mind and basically throws you off balance. We hit quite a few bull's-eyes. We ended up spending the entire afternoon at the museum which was good because it was really warm outside.

As we were almost back at the hostel we strayed off to the bank so Cash could get some money when he realized that he lost his wallet. There's every travelers worst nightmare. Luckily he had almost nothing in the wallet. We went immediately back to the metro station and spoke to the people working there. They ended up taking us back to the security room so we could fill in some papers. Luckily he did find his wallet. When he went to the reception at the hostel to ask about a currency exchange place they said that the museum called with information on his wallet. He forgot it at there when he went on a space ride that flips you upside down. There's some really good news.

We might check out massage places tonight since our legs are killing us! We just found out that tomorrow's there's a photo shoot for photographers! I'll see about checking that out for a bit before I go to Martha's house. If I can get some advice on photography that'd be brilliant. We're not 100% sure what it is but we'll be looking into that tonight. This is my last night in Shanghai. I'll miss this amazing city. I hope I can get a night shot or two later. If not then I guess I'll have to come back here.


  1. Wow, that's a lot of information!!! O_o
    Sounds like you've had some realy amazing days in Shanghai! The parks sound beautiful, and the museum so extremely cool!!! If you think it puts your musuems to shame back in Canada, I don't even wanna start thinking of comparing them with the ones we have here, they're horrible. At least those I've been to :(
    Yay for food on a stick!!! We have chocolate on a stick here, Im quite happy with havig that even if there's nothing else XD
    Yep, you're burning those memory cards, girl! But you're right, they've gota be cheap there, right? Why haven't you bought any yet? I told you to start charging Random Asian People for the photos they take of you! Hahahaha!!! You'll have to deal with the fact of losing your celebrity status when you get back home, that's gotta be tough... Even school kids like you! LOL
    Did you already get your foot massage? I don't think I could get one, I'm too ticklish for that :P
    Hey, where's the photoshoot for photographers being held? (like I was going, heh ;) ) In Yuyan Gardens? In the museum? Or maybe at the hostel where the very famous Vama-chan stays and spends part of her days? That'll surely become a touristic spot when you leave. Be sure to leave behind some memorabilia for the locals, like a lock of hair or maybe the wrapping paper of some candy you ate (BTW, how's candy like over there?), or even one of the sticks (without the food, obviously LOL). Shanghai will be devastated with your absence, be kind with that pooor people :D
    Ok, this is getting way too long, isn't it? It's your fault for writing so much for us to read and comment! And for answering me when I talk to you and getting me to e-stalk you! (that word is definitely a FTW!)

  2. Shanghai was totally awesome. I hope I can eventually get back there some day.
    Ohh, chocolate on a stick eh? That sounds delicious!
    I haven't bought any cards because I've been having some trouble finding the one that I need! Oh well, I'll eventually get one.
    Yes, I already got my massage. I got it on Friday night, it was pretty good.
    The photoshoot was held almost in the middle of nowhere. I ended up not going so I could try to get back to Martha's place as soon as I could.
    I haven't really tried any candy here. The most candy-like substance I've had is some gum which tasted great.