Preparing for the trip

We’re almost ready!

Nothing is packed yet but we’re in packing mood. We will most likely forget something but since everything is made in China anyhow, we should not have any problem finding what we need in Shanghai.

That’s it for today; tomorrow is the big day and I will update the blog at the airport.

Cheers,

Les Dellus

Ready to go

That’s it, we’ve done it!

We’re packed and ready to go. We managed to squeeze everything in 3 suitcases, which is an achievement for those who know us.

Next update from Shanghai.

Cheers,

Les Dellus

So Many People

When in China, what strikes you the most is the endless flow of people everywhere. In the beginning it is hard to believe, the streets, the metro, especially the metro, is like in a movie where you see these scenes with tons of people walking up and down stairways. After a while it is a little stressful because you are always within this flow of people. At a certain moment, we found ourselves in a relatively quiet place and it was like breathing again being under water.

The second thing that strikes you is the way they drive. It is unbelievable. In a junction you have cars, bikes, motorcycles, pedestrians, everywhere. Taxi drivers just won’t stop even if they run over you. It is really scary to cross the road but you get used to it.

Last but no least, it is an amazing city. We have never seen something like that. It is a mix of ultra modern skyscrapers and traditional houses in low neighborhoods. Huge malls and small businesses. People are very friendly and if we asked for money each time they wanted to take a picture with Nir or Yaniv we could probably have funded some of this trip.

Yesterday we walked more then 10 Km, between the Peoples Square to East Nanjing Street to the Bund then crossing to Pudong and walking around the Pearl Tower. We ended the day in the French Concession then back to the hotel at 10 PM really, really tired.

That’s it for today, more to come tomorrow,

Cheers,

Les Dellus in Shanghai

Shanghai on the High Side

Our second day started very high, at 474 m above the city. We took an unbelievably smooth ride in the fastest elevator we ever been and within level than a minute we were on the 94 floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center, AKA “The Can Opener”. This is the famous tower with the hole in the middle. From there we took 200 stairs to 100 floor. We found ourselves in a glass tunnel hanging under the top of the hole. See the picture. The view from there is amazing. The entire city is under you but the smog blocks the view a little bit and you cannot see very far away.

Going down to earth, we took a ride to the Science & Technology museum of Shanghai which is beautiful. Because it was Sunday, it was almost empty and we could enjoy all the attractions without any queue. The museum has everything in English and its layout makes it very easy to walk through. Nir and Yaniv tried the Coriolis effect by shooting a target in a rotating shooting field. I told them to ask saba Gideon about the Coriolis effect as it has been 25 years since I learned that in the Technion.

Just across the museum is the largest fake market of Shanghai. It is a huge underground market will all the fakes you can imagine, unbelievable. When you buy something, you immediately cut the price in half, then start to bargain. Trust me, it works and it’s fun.

We ended the day in an amazing show, the Shanghai Circus World. For 1h 40 min your eyes are riveted to the scene where acrobats are doing the most amazing things. The show ends with 8 running motorcycles in a wire sphere and until now we don’t understand how they didn’t run one into another. Actually, after seeing that, we understand better why they drive like that.

Apropos driving, there are no driving rules for bikes, moppets, motorcycles, basically everything with 3 wheels. They cross red lights, turn in any direction, drive against traffic, unbelievable how they don’t get kill but since we arrived we didn’t see a single traffic accident.

Today we go to the old city and French concession. We decided to take it easy because the next two days are dedicated to the Expo and we need to regain some forces.

By the way, today is our 24 anniversary and we are going to celebrate in
the old city of Shanghai and if we’re lucky we will find frog
dumplings.

With love from Shanghai,

Les Dellus

Old vs. New

Today we took it easy in preparation for the next two days at the Expo. We went to Yu Garden which is the old / new part of Shanghai. It looks old but it’s new. It was demolished and rebuilt from scratch. Apparently the Chinese have absolutely no problem with that. The garden itself is really old and nice but everything around is new and fully of shops for tourists. When I say tourists, I mean local Chinese tourists. We saw some western tourists but nothing compared to the amount of Chinese tourists.

Later on we did a quick tour of the French Concession. It is a relatively quiet part of Shanghai with a lot of western restaurants. After 3 days of Chinese food the kids went on strike and demanded western cuisine. We found a real Crêperie Bretonne and we all had a French dinner for half the price we would have paid in France.

Tomorrow we start a two days marathon of the Expo. Let’s see if we will have forces left to update the blog tomorrow night.

Until then, love from Les Dellus in Shanghai

Expo 2010

That’s it, we did it! we visited during the last two days the Expo 2010 and it was a lifetime experience.

The first day went really smooth, we arrived at 9:15 AM and within 5 minutes we were inside the Expo. We went to the pavilion of China and were surprised to see no queue at all. We visited the pavilion for 3 amazing hours. After a quick lunch we went to India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Israel, Oman, Morocco and ended the day at the Korean pavilion but had to wait 1.5 h to find out that it does not worth the waiting. The ended the day watching a water show on the river, it was beautiful.

The second day is a whole different story. First, the morning traffic was light and it should have made us suspicious, second, when we arrived to the Expo we found ourselves with a zillion of Chinese with their single child waiting in the queue. It took us 1.5h just to get into the Expo, something that took us 5 min. the day before. It turned out that today is the first day of the moon holiday that lasts four days. When Chinese are on vacation trust me, you feel it. The Expo was packed, the queue to the most popular pavilions was 4 hours. We only did the New-Zealand, Australia, France, Bielorusia and Mexico pavilions today. The only good thing was that we didn’t have to wait in the queue for France because our French passports. On top of that it started raining but it was actually a good thing because it was not as hot as the day before.

Even with the crowd it was an amazing experience. The size of the Expo and the number of people was hard to believe. We had a wonderful time.

Tomorrow we are heading to Xi’an with a very early flight so it’s time to say goodbye and stay tuned for more stories from wonderful China. By the way, we already miss Shanghai.

Love,

Les Dellus

Xi’an is so different from Shanghai

We woke up at 5 AM today to catch our flight to Xi’an. After a smooth flight we took a cab from the airport and we found out that the driving habits of Shanghai are actually valid all across China. You have to see it to believe it, like many other things in China. On the way to our hotel we passed huge apartment complexes, some ready, some under construction. They build apartments everywhere, and they are all tall towers of 30 story or more.

After checking in to our hotel and a quick lunch + map, we spent the afternoon cycling around the old city walls of Xi’an on tandem bikes and it was a lot fun. From above, the city doesn’t look that great but after the bike tour we went to the city center and it was very different from what we expected. The main street and the Bell Tower square are full of huge shopping malls and the contrast between this and what we saw on our way from the airport is unbelievable. Behind the Bell Tower is the Drum Tower and behind that is the Muslim quarter with a wonderful souk. We walked around the souk and stopped for dinner in one of the restaurants serving the local dish made of lamb in a bread soup with noddles. When we ordered the food no one understood each other but somehow we managed to get what we wanted and it was really good. The city center is full of life until late and it is a great place to spend the evening.

Tomorrow is the Terracotta warriors day. Stay tuned!

Cheers,

Les Dellus

The Terracotta Warriors

Today was dedicated to the past history of the Shaanxi province. It started at the Bampo museum where the remains of a 6000 yo village were discovered by chance during the building of a new habitation area in 1956. The area was excavated and a lot of the village remains are on display in a large building protecting it. The museum is very well maintained and presented and it is interesting to see how China is carring about this site.

The next stop was the amazing Terracotta Warriors. The site is located 40 Km east of Xi’an and the way to the site looks quite bad with half constructed houses, roads in bad conditions, small shops and people everywhere, and from time to time a huge industrial complex with new habitation zones around.

The Terracotta Warriors site itself is in total contrast to the way leading to it. It is modern, extremely well maintained, with a huge commercial area full of restaurants and shops. The site is very big and the museum is 20 min. away from the commercial area. It is made of 4 large buildings, 3 are the pits with the warriors and one is a museum. Pit no. 1 is the largest and most impressive. Pit no. 2 and 3 are only partly excavated to preserve the remaining warriors because as soon as they are exposed to light they loose their color paintings. You really have to see it to understand the size and amount of work it took to build this army. Definitively one of the highlights of this trip. Here again we can see the efforts China is investing in preserving this site which is also a UN World Heritage site.

The next and last stop was the Big Wild Goose Pagoda of Xi’an. It is a beautiful, very tall, pagoda originally built in 652 during the reign of Emperor Gaozong of the Tang
Dynasty (618-907), it functioned to collect Buddhist materials that were
taken from India by the hierarch Xuanzang. I asked our guide how it survived the culture revolution and she said that the good thing is that it is still here. That’s one way to look at history. The pagoda was restored in 2004. It is the center of a large garden with small temples around it describing the ‘Pilgrimage to the West’ which brought Buddhism to China. The purpose of the pagoda was to keep and protect the writtings brought back from India and translate them from Sanskrit into Chinese.

Tomorrow we will spend the day in the old city of Xi’an and we will take the night train to Beijing. Stay tuned to hear more about our “Pilgrimage to Beijing”.

Cheers,

Les Dellus

The Last Day in Xi’an

Today is our last day in Xi’an and we decided to stay in the old city visiting the Bell and Drum towers and the big mosque.

Both towers are very well preserved and offer a good view of the old city. From above, the city doesn’t look as good as from the ground and this is surprising. The big mosque is a quiet place inside the busy Muslim market and is a mix of arab and chinese architecture. Some prayer halls look very similar to Buddhism temples and only the Arabic writing differentiates between the two.

In between the visits, we strolled down the market, doing some last minute shopping and grabbing lunch from places you would dare eating. As time passes by, we become more and more daring with our eating habits and so far so good.

Tonight we take the train to Beijing, another experience we are looking for, so stay tuned to hear more about that and look at the pictures of our cabin in the train.

Love from Xi’an,

Les Dellus