Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Some Random Updates About My Life That You May Be Interested In...

The title says it all. Here comes the list of radical, new-fangled happenings!

Yī 一  The reason why today I am counting my list in Chinese is not because I felt like being exotic, but because guess what? I was in Shanghai for the last two weeks! And also I finally have a good excuse for not blogging: I've read that all the popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are blocked in China, and it would make sense that Blogger is too; it kept telling me that the connection was lost, and only on blogs. Therefore, this long overdue post is dedicated to updates about my two weeks in a foreign land. Enjoy!

Liǎng  But what exactly was I doing in Shanghai? Well, not the usual city break, as you were all probably presuming. Instead, I was at *drum roll please* the That's Mandarin Shanghai summer camp! Basically, it consists of language study in the morning, and then either field trips (ours was to an art museum which, despite my mum's best efforts, we've not been able to discover the name of), art activities (I am pretty proud of my Beijing opera mask and my Chinese ink painting of Taylor Swift) and cultural activities (a pretentious term for learning Chinese songs, playing Chinese games and the like). I make it sound way less exciting than it is, but it's a nice change from the week-long PGL-type adventure camps that are so common in England, and there was a huge diversity of people from all around the world, who I surely would have never met otherwise. And I guess I'll be super prepared for school Chinese class in September ;).

Sān My summer camp was a day camp, so like regular school back at home, it finished at four, which gave ample opportunity for independent sightseeing during the afternoon. This is when we saw the major sights in the city, as the two weekends we had we reserved for longer day trips. It was hard to choose a favourite of them, but I thought that simply because they are the most famous sights in Shanghai, I'd show you my pictures of the Bund, a riverside road of colonial era architecture, and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.

This is the most famous building on the Bund, the Fairmont Peace Hotel. A popular hotel in the 30s, then called the Cathay Hotel, now the building has finally been renovated by the Fairmont group back into a hotel, giving the hotel and the whole Bund the same 30s glamour, once again.

My heavily Instagram-filtered view across the river to the instantly recognisable Oriental Pearl TV Tower. We climbed this on the very last afternoon in Shanghai and let me tell you, it was thronged. Crowds of people on the lift, crowds of people on the viewing platforms, crowds of people at the dumpling-filled revolving restaurant...basically crowds everywhere! It's a good thing to do just to say that you've climbed the Oriental Pearl, but don't expect it to be the highlight of your trip. There's also a handy scam that makes you pay twice to visit the same museum, and prevents you going to the top viewing platform unless you do :/. On the whole, a bit of a disappointment.

四  Fun as some of them were (my favourite, looking around a traditional Chinese house, unfortunately didn't allow photography), the evening trips we took ultimately only lasted a few hours, so it was the day trips on the weekends that we got the most value out of. These trips included a visit to the pretty canal town of Suzhou, where we  had the joyful experiences of taking a gondola-like boat along the canals and a "motorbike taxi" back to the station...

The view from our canal boat
However, the prize for the weirdest place we visited in Shanghai has to go to the Shanghai Sculpture Park. It advertised itself as having a lake to swim in, but said lake turned out to be this...

Yes, an inviting beach, but the only people willing to swim were the sculptures :/

The park did make up for the bleak lake in other fun stuffies, including this bizarre hilly trampoline. And also a lot of fountains and paddling pools, fortunately not as dreary-looking as the lake.

 However, the sculptures were obviously the main attraction here, and the unique, varying works seemed effortlessly fitted to their surroundings. For example, the poles above are positioned on a pier, creating reflections of all the brilliant hilly scenery around them (you can't tell in the picture, but they are spinning too, creating more distorted reflections). The hunched cat is less suited to its surroundings, but it's an interesting idea to portray a cat in a similar posture as an elderly human. 

Overall, good art here, but please, next time, advertise the lake as what it is (pretty but unswimmable)! 

A non-Shanghai related update now, I just wanted to say that it may look like I was reading Code Name Verity for a very long time, but I read two other books during my trip to Shanghai (but wasn't able to upload the progress on the blog, because of the blockage), Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I'll probably review either or both of them soon, if I don't have much to blog about. So there's that to look forward to :).

And that is what has been going on for me in the last couple of weeks!
-DP :)

1 comment:

  1. That must have been an amazing trip! All the pictures are wonderful. Glad you had a chance to go there! That's one holiday I bet you'll never forget.