Driving in from the airport in Shanghai is like entering a utopian science fiction movie. The roads are wide, empty, and perfect. There’s not a bump, not a skid-mark, not the smallest bit of rubbish to be seen. And then as you get closer to the Centre the lights and the amazing buildings start to appear, looming all round in fanciful, colorful splendour.
Our hotel is on the Bund and our room has views out over the river to the new part of town with all the brightly lit skyscrapers. The contrast of the battered, grey barges working the river and the shinning buildings is fascinating. The continual flow of barges also serves a reminder that Shanghai is a major trading hub.
We awoke to a misty grey morning that settled into a drizzly wet day. That didn’t stop us taking a walk along the Bund past all the wonderful Art Deco buildings that give the west side of the river an amazing atmosphere.
In the afternoon we had a tour organized – the communist history tour. The Chinese Communist Party was founded in Shanghai and the city was also the place of many of the early historical highlights. We visited the room the first meeting took place in attended by just 13 people including a youthful Mao. Our guide was brilliant and it was a fascinating insight into history from a Chinese perspective – although his views on some subjects, Tibet and Hong Kong were as confronting as fascinating.
Then we went to the Propaganda Poster Museum which we all loved. Chinese propaganda posters are much like the more famous Soviet ones, but often with a twist. I was very taken with ballet dancing soldiers shooting while doing a sort of flying splits. Declan was so taken with one showing all,of communisms top leaders he bought a reprint.
In the evening we got thoroughly lost trying to find a dumpling restaurant recommended by our guide. Luckily when we did track it down it was absolutely worth the effort. The approved technique is to pick up your dumpling and make a small hole through which you slurp out the soup before eating the, now deflated, remainder.