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Walking the streets of old and modern Shanghai - Part 1 of 2

October 16, 2006

Coffee

Today is our last full day in Guilin and another day of various professional programs. Among other places, we visited the Guangxi Normal University School of Law. On our way in to the meeting, Rodney needed to use the facilities. There was a bathroom right next to the meeting room, but there were only stand up urinals. A few students saw our predicament and kindly assisted us to facilities in another building. The toilet in this bathroom was of the Chinese type, unfortunately. Rodney attempted to use this toilet, but we were not able to work it out. We decided to wait until we could find a Western style toilet. Fortunately, students were waiting outside to assist us back to the meeting room. Rodney felt a little embarrassed for all the trouble he caused as we were making our way to the meeting, and he expressed this out loud to me and to a few of the attorneys. But all of us assured him that this was no problem, that we were glad that he came, that it has been an inspiration to us to have him join us on this special journey.

Clip Art Ice Water


Clip Art Newspaper

At some point today, we heard news of an earthquake in one of my former home states, that is, Hawaii. I saw it on the news in my hotel room and once I got word of it, of course I was anxiously watching the news for further details in between our busy schedule. Fortunately, damage was relatively minor, although I imagine it was scary for my friends that still live out there in the middle of the Pacific. When I had a chance to check my voice mail on my cell phone, there were messages from a couple of good friends of mine that live there. News does seem to happen while I am away, but even in China one can be in touch somewhat.

Clip Art Map Hawaii


October 17, 2006

Coffee

Clip Art Jet AirplaneToday, we flew from Guilin to Shanghai and settled down at the luxurious Pudong Shangri-La Hotel located in the middle of the Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone. It seemed that this could be in the middle of any very large, modern American city’s downtown area. There were many large buildings around, buildings which enclosed malls, shops and large stores such as what you might come to expect in an American city. But mixed in with a lot of the brand names familiar to us Americans were also brand names unique to China and Shanghai. The most significant brand name to me at moment that we arrived at the hotel and had a few moments to spare was Starbucks. I’m a coffee lover, and coffee lovers traveling in China might find themselves disappointed, as so often the coffee that was offered, even in fancy hotels and restaurants, was that which comes in small packets. I suppose that to wake up in the morning, it does not matter so much to me whether coffee comes in a small packet or is freshly brewed, but even with that, I had to specifically request caffeinated coffee for my room, as they did not see that I needed to have a plentiful supply. So after a number of days in China, the name Starbucks perked my ear, and in the few moments we had to spare before our evening meal, I stopped at Starbucks just down the street from the hotel for the best cup of coffee I had in quite some time, and it certainly perked me up at a time that I most needed it. Starbucks was not the only brand seen close by. Brands were too numerous to mention here. I couldn’t help but notice on the way to Starbucks that next door was Hooters. There are other places I’d rather go than Hooters, but Wayne had his dinner there one day.

At each hotel, I had been requesting a power converter/transformer so that I can use my laptop. China uses 220 volts instead of the 120 volts that we are used to here in America. Today, room service had brought me just a simple adapter and not a transformer to convert the 220 volts to 120 volts. I tried to correct this, but the kind gentlemen informed me that my laptop was designed to run on 220 volts, he said that most laptops were designed this way. I hesitated to believe him at first. But I checked the labeling on my laptop adapter, and learned that this is indeed so. Even a computer geek like me can learn something new, that is nice to know. Apparently this is also the case for my video camera adapter as well. So fellow travelers, check the labeling on your adapter, it is likely that it can be used with 220 volts. This did not help me with the new problem where my laptop was turning off on its own every 5 minutes, but it was sure nice to know.

Clip Art Ice Water

Clip Art Map Shanghai China

Clip Art Image Shanghai skyline


Our national guide, Lei Yiu, had much to say about the city she lives in. It is described as China’s most cosmopolitan city, with influences from many parts of the world. As our time in Shanghai moved along, Jenny would have much to say about how international trade affected life in China, particularly during the 1800’s and since that time, due to the strategic location of its seaport at the mouth of the Yangtze River. It is China’s modern city and financial center. The city serves as one of the most important financial, commercial and cultural centers of China. Shanghai has been described as the entrance to China and China’s window to the rest of the world.

Lei also told us stories of the two opium wars in the mid 1800’s. At that time, trade had been well established between China and Britain and other European countries. The conflict came about because of a growing trade deficit Britain had with China. To balance this deficit, Britain began smuggling opium to China. The wars started when China began enforcing it prohibition on the importation of opium. The end result was the opening up of Shanghai and other ports to the British and the surrender of Hong Kong to Britain. The British were also given commercial and residential privileges. The importation of opium was legalized. Eventually the French and Americans were also given the same rights as the British. Russia was also party to the rights established by the involved treaties. Shanghai was carved up in to foreign concessions and settlements. As a result, foreigners could come to Shanghai without a visa and were not bound by Chinese law. Because of this, Shanghai became known as a paradise for adventurers. Sailors found it such a paradise that ships’ captains often had a difficult time putting a crew together when it came time to leave port. So they would go to the bar district, drug potential sailors and bring them back to the ship. When the sailors woke up, they would find themselves out on the open sea. This is how the term, Shanghai’ed came about.

After all was said and done, we saw an acrobatics show at the Shanghai Centre Theater at Shanghai Centre. Shanghai Centre has a wide range of facilities, including restaurants and shops, a Ritz Carlton hotel, consulate offices and so much more. We would return to Shanghai Center a couple of times before the end of our stay in Shanghai.

Photo Shanghai China

Photo Shanghai China

Photo Shanghai China


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