11 September 2018

Shanghai museum and French concession

An impressive museum, I remember seeing it exactly 20 years ago and it was even more impressive then, maybe because it was new and brimming with cutting edge museum technology.

I remember being amazed by soft lights illuminating ancient calligraphy only when a motion sensor indicated a visitor was in front of the exhibit. At any other time, the display's lights were off, saving energy and, more importantly, helping to preserve the fragile paper and colors.

Lots of priceless pieces from all branches of Chinese art: bronze, painting, calligraphy, porcelain, jade and furniture. A must for any visitor to Shanghai.

Evening at the French concession. At first, it was not easy to find. We got to the general neighborhood by didi and then asked around, but no one knows even when we're walking just next to it.

Some luxury homes reveal themselves inside a gated community, security guards don't pay much attention and we can sneak in to sit down and enjoy the gardens on a bench, eating fruits, and breathing what the atmosphere must have been like a century ago when French administrators and businesspeople lived here.

We later walked around the main area of the concession, with lots of European style pubs and restaurants. Not especially French really. We found it by following the long lines of lamp posts that are reminiscent of Paris, or at least the gas lamps in Paris of 100 years ago as seen in movies.

Most locales have tables outside but almost every patron is a chain smoker so we decide to give it a pass. It's now, of course, mostly Chinese who come here for a drink and a smoke, though still, quite a few foreigners are to be seen.

We ended the evening in a modern bar with a band from the Philippines. A lady vocalist is quite talented and keeps pulling down her short black tube dress that risks revealing her most intimate parts every time she moves her hips with the music.

When she stops playing we try to get a taxis back to hotel but every time they want to overcharge us. There must be a kind of taxi cartel, the same cars keep driving around the block in the hope (certainty?) to pick up a drunk western tourist or expat and charge whatever, without turning on the meter at all. They ask us 100 Rmb (about 12 euro ) and we refuse, it's a total rip off. It's late and there are no didis available, strange...

Lifang proposes to move out a couple of blocks and magically the first taxi that we flag down welcomes with a smile and charges by the meter (25 Rmb). the driver is a fine elderly man, polite and respectful. he says he is ashamed of his colleagues who try to take advantage of foreign clients. taxi drivers stories identical pretty much the world over.

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