Today was a full day in Shanghai. It is a city of contrasts. It is the financial hub of China and is quickly becoming the financial hub of all of Asia. As well it is the hi-tech capital of China and Asia. So we started off our day by visiting one of the oldest industries in China… the Silk industry.
For over 5000 years the Chinese have been cultivating silk worms and spinning one of the finest textiles in the world. Silk… real silk that is, will never be cheap as it is a very intensive production process explained our tour guide.
At the factory we were shown the production stages from cultivating the silk worms to harvesting and unwinding the single cocoons as well as stretching the double cocoons to make silk duvets and pillows. Most ‘100% silk’ purchased from street vendors has little or no silk in it. It is kind of like the $3 Rolex watches. The silk factory we visited had huge stocks of pillows, pillow cases, duvets, sheets, ties, scarves, and clothing. A great place to shop if money is no object. I don’t think my wardrobe will have any silk pajama anytime soon. Perhaps we’ll settle for a pillow or two.
Next we visited the Shanghai museum. It is a marvel of architectural design with extensive displays, well documented over four floors covering ethnic tribes, pottery and porcelain, sculptures, art, and Neolithic relics, and currency displays. The crowd is well controlled providing a very open and leisurely view experience, but the one hour we had was about a week shy of doing it justice.
Lunch. Another Asian treat. Much of the food we recognize, but there are still a few mystery dishes the makeup of which we won’t delve into too deeply.
THIS AFTERNOON WE SHOP UNTIL WE DROP. First in Chinatown, a warren of streets and alleys or ‘Hutons” loaded with 1000s of shops and even more vendors, There were lots of foreigners there, but there were even more Chinese as the area was specifically renovated for the Chinese tourists… and there were lots of them. Remember with a population of 1.4 billion China is its own biggest customer. We visited a Tea Room that served us samples of several different teas each with its unique flavour, application, and brewing technique. The Tea Lady pointed out which tea we ‘gentlemen with the big bellies’ should be drinking was called ‘puer tea’ I don’t remember it being beer.
We were then let loose on our own, The Pearl and I settled into a Starbucks for a Vanilla Latte and a double chocolate muffin. How’s that for Asian Cuisine? The rest of the group wandered off into the maze and when we gathered an hour later they were busy comparing their Rolexes’. The cheapest was under two for $9 while a couple were stung for three times that price.
Back on the bus to be dropped at Nanjing Street, The most famous shopping district in the Far East, The Pearl and I stayed on the bus again resting up for supper. Just as well.
Dinner and then a performance by the Shanghai Acrobat Troupe, Like everything else here it was spectacular. If you get an opportunity to see it, do. You will be amazed, Cirque de Soleil plus.
That pretty much wrapped up our day in Shanghai. Tomorrow we fold our tent and hit the airport for the long trip home. That will give me a chance to reflect on our experience here and put it all in perspective.
Now it’s bedtime