Seeing Shanghai

Shanghai Travel Blog

 › entry 12 of 14 › view all entries

Feeling rather rested (!), I woke around 7 am for our day in Shanghai. The ship had arrived at the dock around 5 am but we had to wait to clear immigration before we could leave the ship. The Chinese officials were being obstinate again and instead of being cleared at 8:30 am as planned, we were not allowed off the ship until 10 am. I had a ship’s excursion booked so as soon as we were let off, I got to the bus and we left shortly later. We headed to a watertown called Zhujiajiao. It was like a small Chinese Venice, only not quite as quaint or clean. It was interesting but a bit touristy. Some people thought we were seeing how the “real” people lived but I sincerely doubted it. They thought this was a slummy part of the city but, having seen some of the world, I thought it was fairly well-to-do for this country, just not the big city life.

Certainly not the slums. We took a small boat ride, paddled by a local. It was only about 15 minutes long, then we were let off by some shops and wandered around town for a little while. Our guide took us to a rice museum and the old post office that dated back to the Qing Dynasty (a long time ago but I’m not sure when). It was rather like the Chinese version of the Pony Express. We boarded the bus and started toward our next stop, the silk factory and a Shanghai lunch. Our table thought lunch was great. We had about 20 dishes to choose from, fish, tofu, pork, stirfried vegetables, and other miscellaneous. Our table of 8 pretty much cleaned up. As we got up to leave, several of us noticed that the table next to us had hardly even touched anything. I don’t know if it was because they didn’t like it or they were afraid to eat anything not from the ship.
To be honest, there are so many people sick on the ship, maybe the local food would be better for us!

The silk factory was fascinating. I always knew that silk came from a caterpillar but never really knew anything more about it. The guide went through the life cycle of the silk moth and showed us the different stages of life. The silk actually comes from the cocoon that the caterpillar spins around itself as it prepares for metamorphosis into a moth. One caterpillar can spin up to 1.2 kilometers of silk around itself. This single strand is then unwound. They throw the cocoon into hot water, then somehow the spinners catch the thread onto the spool. It is done by machine now. The spool pulls the silk off in one long strand as the cocoon twirls in the water.

When the silk is all unwound, the pupa is set aside. This is then sometimes made into cosmetics or even eaten by the locals. Remember the shishkebabs back at the night market in Beijing? We watched the silk workers as they stretched the silk and layered very thin sheets of it into comforters. It was so nice to feel that I felt compelled to buy one. It is in some ways like down but it will not compact and bunch up. It is amazingly strong. I hope I will sleep well under it once I get it home. I will have to find a way to keep it to myself and not let my dogs sleep on it! The silk factory had all kinds of silk clothes, purses, ties, etc. to buy but I got only the comforter and a cover for it. We left there and stopped at a couple shopping and photo spots in the city before we got back to the ship. It was a very gray and drizzly day and tomorrow is expected to be the same or worse.

We are docked right in the city and the lights on the buildings are incredible. I am amazed at the variety of architecture here in Shanghai. It has both very modern and very old buildings. Many of the skyscrapers were built in the last 10 to 15 years. Whole parts of old Shanghai were demolished and replaced by modern buildings. No two look alike. The tallest is 495 meters, 101 floors. The top was in the fog today at times. In all the ports that we have been to, the growth is phenomenal.

Back on the ship, again the usual. Dinner, hot tub, bed. In the morning I have another tour scheduled but not through the ship. We’ll see if the address I gave them was correct!

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photo by: Chokk