Wednesday, March 7, 2012


The Tiger Father and family went on tour to Shanghai, and this is what we found:

1. It’s big. Ridiculously big. It's the largest city in the world, which is saying something, because there's about 10 of those around. But this is in fact the largest city proper - meaning a city without its attached suburbs. It’s like this monster metropolis that’s swallowing up all around it. Estimates say it’s population is 23 million – more than my entire country (22.3 mill). Someone stop it for God’s sake!
2. It is also one of the top 10 cities which are referred to as The Paris of the East.
3. The others are Baku, Beirut (not making this up), Bucharest, Budapest
4. Casablanca
5. Hanoi
6. Kolkata (this is Wikipedia saying this, not me)
7. Lahore and Warsaw
8. Well, everywhere is east of somewhere.
9. Despite it's size, Shanghai is quite nicely developed really. Beijingers tend to look down their noses at the "uncultured" Shanghainese, but still, we didn’t see any horse-drawn fruit carts in the streets as you do in Beijing. Nowhere near as many bicycles either. And the traffic tends to move a bit more smoothly than in Beijing, which is to say less selfishly.
10. Shanghai sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River and has a damp climate, with rainfall recorded approximately every time I go there.
They’re the facts. Now sit back, relax and enjoy our plog of all the best Shanghai has to offer:

1. A turtle without its shell. Never seen
one before. And a plog is a Photo log, a
cool new web word invented here
two minutes ago.

2. A rat with its body also open, although those who've
done tertiary level biology may not want to travel to
Shanghai to see this.

3. A zebra! With brown stripes! All of these sights so
far came under one roof - at the Shanghai Natural
History Museum, a bizarre collection of old-fashioned
taxidermy and other, often disturbing, oddities
recommended to us by my sister-in-law
(seen below, relaxing at home).


Seriously, they've got everything here ...

... even a whale shark, which is heaps larger than
it may appear. At some point in the past in this old
deserted museum, someone had lots of smelly work
to do. There's also a stuffed killer whale.

Evie (right): "Aaagh! What is it?!"
TF: "It's a giant crab".
Evie: "But what happened?!"
TF: "What do you mean what happened?"
Evie: "How did it get stuck in this box?!"

The girls couldn't stop talking about the museum, such as
Lani's comment of: "When can we get out of here? This
place is giving me the creeps!" "It's OK," I said. "He died
during the Ming Dynasty." I won't show you the human
embryos in jars exhibit. But it's there.

Then it was off to sample Shanghai's famous postcard shot,
the Bund. This actually does look like a postcard, from the
1920s. I haven't touched it up at all. It was a cold and grey
day,  which at least meant, perversely for the world's
biggest  city, there was hardly anyone around. 

A seminal parenting moment - the first photo of
one of my offspring holding something big. It
worked OK.

This is the Oriental Pearl Tower up
close. It's 468 metres tall, 17 years old, and
I read that it's a member of something
called the World Federation of Great
Towers. To become a member you have
to be more than 200 metres tall and serve
no purpose whatsoever. Once in a while
the towers all meet and campaign for
better conditions, more time off, etc. 

She ended up eating it.

The scene inside.

The real scene inside. At 250m above sea level, this is
the world's highest electronic game arcade. At least, as
those people are doing in the centre background,
you can still look through a telescope for 1 yuan.

Thank God for the crowd control systems. Wending your
way to the front takes several minutes but is made tolerable
if you tell the kids it's a maze.

A typical Chinese Mississippi paddle steamer.

On day two we took a trip to the zoo, where the kids oohed
and aahed over the sight of this little white mouse. We
moved on before it got ugly.

This was a great place to study behaviour for a while and it
proved one thing: Put up an enclosure with some
water in it and people will throw coins - alligators
or no alligators. 

Chinese mothers always like to ensure everyone is fed.
At least they didn't stride over the fence.

And that was Shanghai, or our version of it anyway. But for another way to see the world's largest place, I would heartily recommend this:

It's drier, warmer, and a lot quicker.

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