Shanghai’s National 5 Star Ranked Sights

With the continued lack of photo posting I have going on , I figure it’s time to start doing some more translation-based posting to further English language information available about Shanghai. I keep finding cool Chinese language only things about Shanghai on my new social media obsession- Weibo. The Chinese micro-blogging version of Twitter.

For example, did you know that there are 3 Nationally ranked 5A (star) sights in Shanghai , 24 Nationally ranked 4A , and 15 Nationally ranked 3A ? Neither did I. In addition to these nationally recognized places , there are also provincial ranked spots as well. Usually the national ones are pretty awesome, sometimes the provincial ones feel like they get the plaque so they can put up a ticket booth. Hey, look at this dilapidated shack that someone kinda famous used to live in! Whoa, check out this lake with half the pollution levels of the others!

I was curious to see how many of the 42 places I’ve been to.

14 , in case anyone else is curious. That’s 33.endlessly repeating 3, without really meaning to. Not bad. A lot of them aren’t exactly obvious , especially the AAA ranked.

Let’s start out with the AAAAA ones!

Shanghai Science and Technology Museum , Pudong District , 2000 Century Avenue. http://www.sstm.org.cn/kjg_web/html/kjg_english/portal/index/index.htm
– I’ve been to this one. I have an issue with the ranking. While it’s decent , it means that my hometown Cleveland Science Center should be ranked Chinese National AAAAAAAAAA (That’s 10A) in comparison. It’s not quite as hands on and awesome as my hometown’s.

Shanghai Pearl TV Tower, Pudong District, 1 Century Avenue. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oriental_Pearl_Tower
– Pretty obvious. It’s Shanghai’s huge, phallic , erect, TV Tower! Although some may question the design , Shanghai’s manhood is a symbol of change and prosperity that has come over the economic capital of China. Back in 1994 this was the shining example of the change that would sweep over the city. A huge structure in the farmlands that was Pudong. While now it’s been eclipsed by taller buildings in Shanghai and taller TV towers in China (Guangzhou) it’s still pretty dazzling. I’ve been up the Pearl’s taller brothers but not the actual itself yet. At 180rmb admission is a bit steep.

Shanghai Wild Animal Zoo, Pudong District Nanhui Town, 178 Nanliu Highway. http://en.expopanda.com/home.html
– China’s first national grade zoo. Unlike other Chinese zoos the animals here have space and there is a Safari like bus ride through the park. I’ve never been but this review from TripAdvisor sounds it out for us, “This zoo is 100 times better than the garbage littered zoo in west Shanghai (Puxi). I feel really sorry for the animals in that zoo.” It’s quite a distance away from the city center and a bit complicated to get to. I’ve been past it on my way to the Nanhui Peach Village though. There is a stop for the Wild Animal Zoo on the as of yet unopened line 16 . Once that line opens it will much easier to get to.

Keep an eye out for my 24 AAAA guide next time. It’s gonna take a bit longer to translate and write-up ,bear with me.

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Moment of the Day – Impatience

I’ve mastered a few little techniques and individual station strategies to survive the Shanghai metro. These are especially important during the dreaded rush hour. Fortunately I’m done earlier than the majority of people so I only have to deal with the rush in the morning commute. It’s still a pretty awful way to start a day though.

Anyways, to get to work I have to switch from Line 7 to Line 4 at the Dong An Lu station. I’ve discovered that there tends to be fewer people waiting to board the train as well as already on the train at the front and end carriages of the train. At the Dong An Lu station there is an awful restroom that stinks to high heaven which people have to wait in front of in order to board the front of the train. The combo of distance walked from the transfer stairs plus the stench keeps people away. I deal with it because I feel it’s better than being pushed and shoved into a tiny cramped space with a bunch of rude fools .

The restrooms are very small and usually the doors are left open. This was the case today. I board the train and while I’m waiting for the train doors to shut so we can be on our way, a woman in her early 20s emerges from her stall (the only stall). She is greeted by an old lady who stands directly in her way and says in a nails on chalkboard kind of voice, “You’re too slow!!!!” ( In Chinese of course). The younger woman just looks at the lady with a look of scorn and disdain and slips past the miserable old hag. The metro door slides shut and I’m laughing.

What a bitch! What is the point of being so rude and saying that? Accept it, and use the available facilities. If I found myself in that situation , I would probably also slip right past the jerk and not say a word either. The temptation to exclaim “OOOOH DIARRHEA” and slip back into the stall to make the cranky one wait for a good 10 , 15 minutes extra does arise though , especially if I have a good book 🙂 . Careful people , you reap what you sow!

Longhua Temple

Longhua Temple 龙华寺 is a complex that preserves the architectural design of a Song Dynasty monastery of the Buddhist Chan sect. It is the largest, most authentic and complete ancient temple complex in the city of Shanghai. A great place to chill out and relax from the hectic city outside. Buddhists tend to be peaceful and there is none of the shoving and jackassery that occurs in the metro rush hour. The main event is bowing to the various deities with your incense sticks held outstretched. Free incense with admission , yes!

I will definitely head back to check out the yearly temple festival that coincides with the Martyr’s Memorial Park’s (near the temple) peach trees blossoming.

Alrighty , let’s try this Flickr thing out seeing as how I am still unable to load pictures directly into WordPress. Sucks you only get a 300 mg monthly allowance for the free Flickr. I really don’t want to pay. These photos took up a 1/3 of my month so you’d better enjoy them!

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Happy New Year!

Ah , a nice refreshing 3 day break from work (Jan. 1st-3rd), now it’s Saturday morning and I’m on my lunch break. What? This must be a typo! Lunch breaks are not needed on the weekends. Surely in China one must be able to choose a time and place to eat on the weekends? This break must refer to the amount of effort it takes to get up from the couch in between pirate DVD episodes of “Game of Thrones”! No , no , no you must pay for that three-day holiday by working two days on the weekend in addition to the next week. Tuesday , Wednesday , Thursday off , and Friday to Friday on. The Chinese holiday schedule is not content with , you know, actually cutting people some slack. Great. As much as I loved those days off , it just doesn’t seem worth it with 6.5 more days looming ahead on the horizon. ( rainy, snowy, cold next 6.5 days) Happy New Year! WORK MORE.

On a happier note , the days off were really great! The first day of the new was the warmest it’s been in weeks, and the sun was shining! I took this opportunity to get out of my smelly little box that serves as an abode and ventured far off into the never never lands of Songjiang District.The end of metro line 9 is a long, long way from downtown. I rode all the way to the new terminal station (opened Dec. 29th), Songjiang South, looked around , and then hopped back on the subway one station north to the also newly opened Zuibai Pond station , home of Shanghai’s oldest classic park Zuibai Chi (醉白池). The 醉 means drunk. This garden was the retreat of a famous poet who liked to come , drink, and write poetry. Awesome.

From there I walked to the other touristy places in the area, Xilin Pagoda , Songjiang Mosque , and Square Pagoda (fangta) park . I was the only non-Asian I saw all day which incidentally made me a tourist attraction as well. After all was said and done it was getting dark and cold , time to take the nearly one hour subway ride back home. Let on the “Game of Thrones” marathon begin! I’m late jumping on the bandwagon but am glad I did. I would love to read the books but sadly Season 1 and 2 on pirate DVD come up to a whopping 72 rmb ($11.42 USD) while the real editions of the books (only ones I’ve seen at the Fuzhou Lu foreign language book center) hits the wallet for more than 100 rmb a piece ($15.80+).

When dawn broke it was time to venture out again. This time I went to one of those place you hear about and always mean to visit , to be a tourist in your city again, Longhua Temple. This complex is located close to the city center and is totally worth the visit. It’s a peaceful oasis from the outside gray area where intense construction of the middle portion of the metro line 11 has the ground all ripped up, and safety walls erected everywhere.

Admission is 12 rmb and you get a free pack of incense! Everyone is just strolling around and bowing before the various deities and shrines. The temple interiors are quite impressive. I like Gods with hundreds of arms and swords. I would like to think the Gods were pleased by the pomelo and apple sacrifices. (I certainly would be). Comparing these shrines to their Vietnamese counterparts ,however, makes me wonder why the Vietnamese offer fruits , beer, and liquor to the heavens while the Chinese don’t give booze to the mighty ones above. Maybe drunken Gods have a mean streak in China?

After blissing out in the temples , and petting the fat temple cat , it was time to a nerd and ride the brand spankin’ new metro line 13 just for the sake of riding it. The terminal station’s , Jinyun lu, surroundings are a barren wasteland. A giant shopping mall looms above the surrounding low rises , a center of sterile fun in a bleak gray world. Billboards abound with messages about the great new west city business district that will have sprung up like a weed and pictures of vast green lawns are interspersed with shiny glass towers, the skies are photoshopped blue, and the people are way to happy to be in a business district. I certainly do not smile like that on my approach to the office. More the like inverse of that. My smile proportionally decreases with the proximity to work.

One cool thing in the area (maybe the only) was that you could see the Bottle Opener (Shanghai World Financial Center) Shanghai’s tallest building looming from the misty (smoggy) distances like the eye of Mordor. That was intense. OMG! Reference to an intense medieval fantasy epic , must return home for more “Game of Thrones”….

Day three was cold and little flakes of snow floated from the skies. Curses from the Gods for not receiving their alcohol rations (doesn’t snow in Ho Chi Minh does it?!?). Twas a day for cleaning, preferably in the 1 foot radius around my radiator. Sigh , now back to the work marathon.

The Changes The Changes

Let’s see if inserting an image from a url will work.

I’ve recently started to spend a lot more time on Weibo. Weibo is the Chinese version of Twitter, just as RenRen stands in for Facebook.
It’s a good way to practice Chinese reading comprehension , an indispensable look into the Chinese news world, and a great way to become better acquainted with Shanghai. There are tons of cool things about Shanghai that can’t be found in English language websites.
I’ve started following this amazing user “摄影师陆杰” who shares great old photos of Shanghai.

Here is a picture of East Nanjing Road overlooking the Huangpu River. Virtually unrecognizable from the Shanghai we know today (no Pearl TV Tower , Lujiazui is still all farmland!), and this picture is only from 1988! It reminds me more of Hanoi and Phnom Penh than anything (especially the red and green roofed houses at the bottom/center of the photo).

http://ww3.sinaimg.cn/bmiddle/6b9d9522gw1dtwt1mdrnaj.jpg

Eh Kinda Back But Not Quite

I’ll start out with the obligatory “MERRY CHRISTMAS” greetings to everyone today! The grumpy cashiers may be wearing Santa hats , the shopping malls decked out with over the top Christmas trees , and haunting images of Santa follow my every moment down the street , but it doesn’t really feel like Christmas. This is most likely due to the lack of family and the fact I had to go to work today. Nothing says Christmas like a 7:30 am alarm and the trudge over to clock-in.

The technical issues that have been keeping me from even accessing wordpress have magically cleared up. I think my experiments with sacrifices of paper money to the internet gods worked! However, I’m still stuck with the original problem of the nifty wordpress 3.5 add media into your post being completely broken. My “Macau : PhotoTour” , my “Check out this photo of this nasty bruise I got when a Shanghai taxi ran over my foot” , and my “Wow, This Chinglish add claims there is semen in this drink” (Yes, these are all real) posts have to sit on the back-burner for Buddha knows how long. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE WORDPRESS FIX THIS!

Hmmpf , anyways here are the major updates to December 2012.

1. Yes, a taxi ran over my foot. I was less amazed by the fact a taxi ran it over than that by the fact that my ankle did not break.
2. My kitties had their girl parts removed. A week of moping around with cones on their heads ensued. (You need to see the photos to really see the pathetic state they were in)
3. Hopefully (fingers crossed!) I’ll be assuming the position of Social Media Editor for Sherpa’s food delivery service! Beijingers, Shanghaiers, and Suzhouers get at me! I can’t wait to do something not teaching related!
4. The subway wars are heating up! According to the exploremetro blog, “Beijing and Shanghai are fierce rivals. Both cities have dramatically increased the length of their subway networks in recent years, especially around Beijing’s 2008 Olympics and Shanghai’s 2010 World Expo.
Shanghai has 425km of track (excluding the Maglev and Jinshan Railway), making it the longest subway network in the world, while Beijing currently has 372km. Traditionally, the main metro networks in Mainland China open new lines in the last few days of December. This year is no different, with both the Shanghai Metro and Beijing Subway scheduled to open new lines in late December 2012. The metro operators rarely release information about exactly which lines will open until a few days before the end of the year, which leaves an intriguing conundrum: what will be the longest metro system in the world at the dawn of 2013?” Just recently on line 9 , the interior subway maps were updated showing a brand new Line 13 , a brand new Line 12 , the completed Line 11 , extensions to Line 9 , and a completely new Line 16. I’m kinda of a nerd. These things excite me! The new male English voice on Line 9 ,however, does not! Check out more info at

Man , it feels good to write again. I survived the Mayan Apocalypse , now I just need wordpress working right again.

WordPress 3.5 Problems

Anyone notice the new WordPress update that rolled in a few days ago?

It’s a pretty radical change and one that seems a hell of a lot better.

I really enjoyed using it for a day or two until the functionality totally broke. Is anyone else having problems with this?
Now if I try to upload images into a post the first image will start and then hang. I also cannot load the media library from inside the post. However, I can view my media library and upload things into the media library if I use the new Media section on the left hand toolbar. But I can’t put images inside my post!!

I’ve tried clearing browser caches and cookies to no avail. I’ve been scouring the internet for fixes and haven’t stumbled upon anything remotely helpful. What to do?!?!?

I want to keep on the blogging!

UPDATE – I should probably add that since I’m behind the Great Firewall of China I use a web based VPN service , Securitales , to access WordPress. This didn’t cause any major problems previously though.