Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
One of Chunlin's coworkers picked us up in Shanghai and drove us to Changzhou, the location of Chunlin's company's plant.
Leaving the city, the apartment buildings step down from twenty stories to fifteen to ten to seven to four and it all seems rather sudden. Empty office buildings. Trees. Warehouses. Still in Shanghai. Fields. Old houses.
There's a cluster of skyscrapers near the tollbooth to leave Shanghai, then it gets quite rural again.
On the Huning Expressway, the lanes have the following speed limits from left to right: 120 max 110 min, 120 max 90 min, 120 max 60 min. Trucks and buses 100 max. A big sign for no sleeping while driving. That's a good rule.
Zip by Suzhou without really seeing anything but buildings on the horizon.
Changzhou. Into the heart of town to buy train tickets -- for the 1:27 p.m. to Nanjing. Chunlin's boss arranged to have her coworker pay for our train tickets from Changzhou to Nanjing and on to Huangshan. Chunlin tried to pay him back, but no.
Changzhou seemed the same size as Seattle, but it's probably bigger. BRT down the middle of the street. Drivers and pedestrians were just as crazy here as in Shanghai. A pair of people walked down the middle of a divided road, in the fast lane, as if it was a sidewalk.
We headed out of town to a business park. Here was Jimmy's building. "Rim Rim Rim Rim..." it said across the front windows.
Chunlin and her coworkers were happy to meet each other. Much laughter. She got a tour of the plant while I waited in a lounge. Outside, it was lunchtime. Workers from all the businesses sat and stood in the shade of the small trees, walked down the sidewalk in pairs or threes, enjoying the sunny day.
We didn't have time for the big lunch Chunlin's coworkers had planned. It took too long to get everything together and leave Shanghai, I suppose. This wasn't really a problem for us, however, since we'd had many large meals lately, but I felt sorry for her coworkers who missed out since our schedule was so tight.
12:25 go go go! Two coworkers took us to a quick noodle lunch and then off to the train station.
Construction everywhere in China. This building was across the street from the noodle house. I took the photo from the car as we turned around, in a rush.
When we got near the train station, we hit a red light and decided to hop out and run. Chunlin's coworker pushed her way through the crowd and we followed a bit nicer.
At the security line at the station entrance, I paused for no more than a second to snap a photo of the city.
And then we ran inside. The waiting area had a queue for our train, filing out onto the platform. A sign proclaimed our train would be seven minutes late, and thus we had time to go to the restroom...
We said zaijian to Chunlin's coworker, joined the push to board the train, and found our seats. We both had window seats, with me facing backwards. Full train.
And away we went, zooming through the countryside. Fields zipped by, with occasional clusters of two- or three-story houses. Construction all around, yet deterioration all around. Maintenance is hit-and-miss.
This route is going to be on the Shanghai-to-Beijing high-speed rail line. Construction of bridges and stations all along.
It wasn't very long before we arrived in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu Province and sometimes the capital of China.
Skyscrapers in an ancient town.
I didn't expect that. My guidebook didn't mention skyscrapers at all.
But then again, the really tall one, the Nanjing Greenland Financial Center was only completed a month before we saw it (and more than a year after the guidebook was written). I'm sure they'll mention it in the next edition, since it's the seventh tallest building in the world!
At the World Expo, we wandered around the Middle East area for a little while.
We went into the Oman Pavilion because the line was short. Common theme for us, eh?
Inside, every pavilion has exhibits shouting "Our country is great!" The pavilions all look completely different, and yet they're all basically identical. "Just like people," replied Chunlin.
We sat and rested on a park bench for a while as the sun set. We considered walking around more to see the pavilions after dark, but we decided our feet hurt too much and thus we should head for the subway.
Chunlin wanted to see the riverfront at night, so instead of taking the 7 line directly back to the hotel, we took it the other direction and transfered to the 2. We got off at Pudong and saw the skyscrapers that were shrouded in mist before.
We then got back on the 2 under the river. Next stop Nanjing Road, the closest stop to the Bund. Nanjing Road is a busy pedestrian shopping street. Neon and crowds.
After a couple blocks -- "What street is that?" I had taken us the wrong direction. West instead of east. How had I messed that up?
We had no further energy to walk to the river. We thus got back on the subway and headed home to Xincun Lu. Bus? Where's the bus stop? No bus stop? Walk limp crawl the half mile from the station to our hotel.
Four sore feet, once more.
Further foreign photos on flickr, for sure.
Friday, June 25, 2010
This was the line for the China Pavilion, I believe. Or maybe Taiwan. In any case, moving but very long.
We looked into getting into the China Pavilion, but we would have to arrive first thing the next morning to get a reservation for later in the day.
The gray building in front is actually the larger portion of the China Pavilion. It acts like a plinth that the red portion sits upon. The whole thing will remain on the site and open to the public long after the expo is gone.
The streets have all been built for future use, but right now they're closed to most traffic. A bit odd for now, especially since all the nations' pavilions face away from the streets and onto the wide pedestrian lanes that will eventually disappear.
On the upper walkway, we ventured to the Expo Axis, a long series of tents and funnels. Six giant, glass funnels, actually.
This will certainly remain once the expo is over.
I do wonder about the drainage system, however, since these are open to the sky.
Would you like some Kekoukere?
We then headed downstairs to the mall beneath for food -- noodles. Gave our feet a much needed rest.
And then we went to see the giant bunny.
If you like these photos, I've posted more on flickr.
At the Shanghai World Expo, I wandered down the giant alley toward the Poland Pavilion, which had intrigued me with its design. Meanwhile, Chunlin rested her feet.
On the way to Poland, I passed the France Pavilion:
Past the Germany Pavilion, I spotted Poland.
It wasn't as interesting in person as in concept. It was hard to see it as folded paper from ground level.
Across the wide alley, Spain was a pleasant surprise.
The Spain Pavilion was a giant wicker basket -- and it smelled like it, too.
Come November 1, the expo will close and these buildings will no longer be good for much of anything. As far as I know, China plans to demolish all the nations' pavilions and create a new neighborhood. Only a few expo structures will survive.
I rejoined Chunlin and we hopped a shuttle bus for the other side of the expo, near the Nepal Pavilion.
At first we thought we'd go in, but then we saw the full extent of the line.
Instead, we climbed the stairs to the pedestrian walkway which runs over the street nearby.
Presumably these walkways will still exist once the expo is gone. Or at least I think they'd make a good addition to the future neighborhood's infrastructure. Separate the foot traffic from the wheeled traffic. Safer that way.
More such photos on flickr.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
At the World Expo, we took a stroll through flashy Canada.
It looked like it had a short line, but half of the zig-zags were hidden inside the building. Tricky folk, those Canadians.
I didn't really pay attention to all the "our country is great" stuff the exhibits were saying. I just took photos.
They had some bicyles that interacted with large screens. I'm not sure what that was about...
In the courtyard, Chinese staff wandered slowly, dressed as a fish, a fisherman, a tree, and butterflies.
Once back outside, we stopped by a restaurant that had an interesting name: Shanghai Old City God Temple Snack Kingdom.
Inside, I realized that all the English translations of the Chinese signs were obviously a collection of the worst translations ever found. They were trying too hard. It wasn't fun anymore.
Chunlin liked the food, though!
We then wandered through Europe again.
Aren't the EU and China flags awfully similar in design? I wonder if they were trying for that...
I wanted to see the UK Pavilion, but the line was very long.
The Netherlands Pavilion was much more accessible and photogenic.
Everybody enjoys sitting on sheep. That's what the World Expo is about: finding the little things that bring the world together, Dutch and Chinese, everybody.
More expo photos on flickr!