1. Shanghai （上海）
10.01.2011 - 12.01.2011
January the 10th
Having planned my itinerary in detail and having handed back all of my 300 corrected exam papers, I was finally off on my self-entitled 'Epic Spring Fest China Tour' (though not before a rather rushed packing session on the morning I was due to leave!!)
Although I had been to Shanghai twice before, and decided that Chinese cities on the whole weren't really my thing, this time was a bit different. Having watched Chinese state TV (CCTV 9 of course) for more than 4 months now, I had been gradually sold on the idea of the World Expo in China. Although, the Expo has been going on for more than 150 years, I hadn't really noticed it before but I guess being in China made it big news. Thus I was pretty sad that I couldn't have gone to it during the 6 month display last year but was pleased to find out that the China pavilion would still be open for 6 months after all the other pavilions had been closed.
By the time we got to Shanghai, it was already night and so we took the opportunity to walk around and see the Bund, a promenade of European architecture from the early 1900s, and Shanghai's night skyline.
Shanghai's night time urban landscape from atop of Jinmao Tower, China's 2nd tallest building at 420.5 metres high
January the 11th
It was bitterly cold and having wanted to escape such climes, my escape into the south of China couldn't come soon enough. However, in the end I was pleased that I had stopped off in Shanghai before doing so. By experience of the remnants of the Shanghai Expo made me wish even more than I had seen the delights of all the other pavilions - the whole site of the World Expo was staggeringly huge.
The China pavilion itself was covered in a lucky red (the colour is actually called 'Chinese Red' I believe!) and took its inspiration from the shape of a traditional Chinese knot. Inside, there were 3 sections covering multiple aspects of Chinese culture; past, present and future. My personal highlights included a cinematic China intro movie that was pretty moving stuff - ha ha, I must have seemed like some sort of overly-patriotic Chinaman but honestly, it was the bit about the Suchen Earthquake of 2008 that got me. Powerful stuff.
The other key highlight for me was the mesmerising 'River of Wisdom': Zhang Zeduan's 12th century masterpiece reworked as a 3D animation of all 1068 people, boats and animals. It was really great to see such an old painting brought to life in such a way (see video below) - I spent ages just watching small segments of the animated painting and seeing the people in it go about their daily chores as day cycled into night and then back again.
The original painting by Zhang Zeduan (张择端) was particularly fitting because it was called 'Riverside scene at Qing Ming Festival' with Qing Ming being 'Spring Festival' aka Chinese New Year.
The video above shows the the result of the original painting being enlarged by over 30 times so that the final animated 3D replica could show animations from even the smallest of figurines in the painting.
As we took a ride (a literal one) into the Chinese future, I hoped that this green vision of sustainable consumption could indeed by achieved in China. With such thoughts in my head, I left the China pavilion chuffed that I had been able to see at least a small part of what was the World Expo of 2010.
January the 12th
After a morning snack of xiao long bao (小龙包) - my favourite thing about Shanghai - we departed from Shanghai and journeyed down south towards the seaside town of Xiamen.