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I will begin by saying that to appreciate Shanghai, one would need to spend many days there--as in any major, world
city. We did not have this time and thus would rather have skipped it and spent more time in Beijing, Guilin or
another place we did not reach. There are some "tourist" places to go, but it really is a city that needs time for
acclimating, time to explore, time to walk in various sections, time to get a sense and feel for its complexities and
undercurrents. It is a city worth knowing as is San Francisco, New York, Frankfurt, Milan, but, as with these cities,
without time, it is too complex.
With the economic rebirth of China, Shanghai has become, as it was in the past, the business and trade center of the
country. This is clearly evident in the massive buildings that have been and are being constructed; in the major world
companies whose logos and signs crowd the waterfront, known as the Bund; by the banks and trade centers  
represented in the newly developed business section. Shanghaians view themselves as different, more sophisticated,
more knowledgeable, more worldly than their counterparts in the rest of China. There is a clear snobbery here. It is
returning to the predominance it had in the days before Mao and in doing so it seems as if this side of its character
simply lay dormant, waiting to reawake and continue as it was when the Europeans and Chinese compadres built it.
One of the treasures in Shanghai is
the Jade Buddha from Burma. It is
located in the restored, large Jade
Buddha Temple complex which is
very active with people burning
incense, milling around, prostrating
themselves and meditating.  Within
the area is much indication that
there are still many practicing
Buddhists in China.
In addition to the Buddha,
there are beautiful
sandlewood carvings and
ornately decorated side
temples. One of the
fascinating aspects of travel
in China is to witness the
number of Chinese who are
tourist, clearly interested in
the opportunity to know the
country denied them in the
last several decades.
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SHANGHAI
Shanghai has a population of 17 million--which is a lot people! Almost all live in apartments; thus, there are hundreds
of high rise apartment buildings every where you look--stretching far outside the city's boundaries. These apartments
are small by American standards but costly by Chinese standards. Because the construction of apartments is an
on-going, every expanding process, people are anxious to move from old ones to the larger, better equiped newer
ones. Many of the older complexes are then torn down as new ones are built. Again, we were fascinated with
watching a country remaking itself seemingly overnight. Only a government controlled by leaders and "dictators"
who can act unilaterally and without accountibility could accomplish such a streamlined feat. Neither a democracy
nor a republic could do this.
The Shanghai Museum offers several floors with each level hosting
different exhibits--statuary, jade, seals, furniture, art, weaponary,
porcelin and more. Much of it is quite fascinating; however, having
done that, I know now that I would have preferred time to just walk
and explore the city. With that said, however, the museum should
be visited at some time but one should plan on 4-5 hours to meander
in it.
Shanghai Museum
The old China Town is fun to wander in even though it is truly a
tourist destination with its shops and trinkets. This is not to say that
no city inhabitants go there--they do. At one of the dumpling
take-out restaurants, there was a very long line of people waiting to
get their supply to eat there or more often to take with them
whereever.
This old area is charming with its lovely traditional buildings, gardens, little bridges, waterfalls and tea houses. One
really has a sense of walking back in time as the area has been so well maintained that the focus on beauty in
proportion and design that typified ancient China is still there.
Ancient Rock in Suzhou Garden
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I do need to interject a personal note while talking about Shanghai--so that anyone who goes to China knows not to
miss this. In China, the foot massage is a mastered art. As with much in Chinese medicene, the men and women
who give the massages have been to medical school and are highly trained in pressure points, the connection between
each small part of the foot and the rest of the body and how to manipulate each joint. Beginning with the foot
soaking in warm tea, through the sometimes slightly painful but relaxing movements and manipulation of feet and
toes to the final massage of shoulders and neck, the entire experience is marvelous--and stays with you throughout
the next day. I treated myself three times to this hedonistic ritual but the best was in Shanghai.
Outside of Shanghai about two hours is lovely Suzhou with its beautiful gardens--The Humble Administrator's
Garden, the Lingering Garden, and the Forest of Stone Lions Garden. There is also Tiger Hill which has the Chinese
equivalent of the Tower of Pisa. The gardens are exquisite works of art with waterfalls, bridges, rock formations,
foliage and fish. They were created as private retreats and living areas by wealthy scholars and leaders as long ago as
the 10th century. Within the gardens reside the original artistic, perfectly proportioned buildings that we think of
when we envision ancient China. Today much of their serenity is lost to the large number of we tourist who wander
through but they are still magnificent.
These type of signs were enchanting. Always phrsased with great politness.
Ken  Jane and Dawn
SUZHOU TIGER HILL
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OFF TO GUILIN