Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Shanghai to Hangzhou

This is the fourth and last post on China - previous post here.
Shanghai today  
Shanghai in the 1980s
Owing to the delayed flight from Qingdao to Shanghai our time in the city was cut short. We were taken all around the city in a car to see as much as possible, but other things that had been arranged for us had to be cancelled.
The highlight was being taken down the Huangpu River in the Harbour Masters own ship. We were the only guests on his two storey vessel apart from other Shanghai officials and our minder Madam Wu. He wanted to show H the river and point out their shipping and environmental problems whilst seeking his advice. We were served all kinds of refreshments, and then on the return journey he laid on a banquet.
Travelling down the river with the Harbour Master - the young girl was the Interpreter
Comparing my Huangpu River images with a contemporary photograph shows the huge changes.
Neither of us can remember how we got to Hangzhou but I think it must have been by train as it is only a 3 hour trip from Shanghai. 
Hangzhou is everything you imagine China to be. Lakes full of lotus flowers, with temples sitting on little islands which are crossed by bridges. When Marco Polo passed through in the 13th century he described it as one of the finest and most splendid cities in the world. West Lake, full of fresh water is the most famous lake and is surrounded by hills and gardens, dotted with pavilions and temples - one romantically called Three Pools mirroring the Moon.
We were taken out in a boat with our minder, Madam Wu, and one of the Marine Scientists. The man rowing the boat was so absorbed in watching H and myself that he nearly rowed us up on to one of the little stone ornaments sitting in the middle of the lake. This almost resulted in us all being thrown from the boat into the deep water with unknown consequences. Fortunately I noticed what was going on and managed to shout out a warning, and thus prevent a diplomatic incident. Whatever would the UN have thought if their man in Hangzhou and his wife had ended up floundering in the middle of a lake?
In Hangzhou we had some memorable banquets. One evening the dish we were presented with was so magnificent that the whole restaurant came to a standstill to watch what was happening. Chickens had been wrapped in Lotus leaves from the lake and then smothered in mud and baked. Once cooked the mud was ceremoniously broken open to reveal the succulent chicken.  We were also served river crab, until then I had thought that they only lived in the sea.
During the month long trip we had lots of interesting experiences - a Chinese acrobatic display, the ballet, visit to Beijing Zoo, and a particularly memorable dish of sea slugs and jelly fish. We could never have envisaged the huge changes that have since taken place in China during what is a relatively short period of time.

48 comments:

  1. It must have been an unforgettable experience Rosemary, one you'll carry with you for always.
    Such a huge difference between then and now!
    Have a lovely week! We're having autumn still over here, rain, wind, cold, headaches, nasty throataches, doctor visits, coughing, sneezing, a lot of handkerchiefs, you know, everything but spring ;).
    Marian

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    1. Dear Marian - I think that northern Europe is suffering all over with the dismal weather - one day gorgeous the next feeling as if the central heating needs turning on.
      Sorry that you are all suffering with nasty coughs and colds, somehow we have avoided that - hope that you are soon on the road to recovery and lets keep our fingers crossed that the weather patterns will change for the better.

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  2. Hello Rosemary, The contrast between the old and new waterfronts is certainly remarkable, but the old China, as shown in your other photos, is not really gone completely. In Taipei at least, when you leave the main areas, you find block after block of just such old-fashioned buildings and activities. Even the cyclists, with their straw hats and overloaded carts, are still a common sight, although now they mostly collect recyclables, old paper and cans.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Dear Jim - I am sure that is true of China too - in the countryside and the more remote areas. I did receive a comment from Qingdao on one of my previous posts where a local person said that they found it difficult to believe how much things had changed over such a short period when viewing my images - he called my photos 'retro'. However, Qingdao was where the Olympic sailing took place so it is very likely lots of new infra structure and modernisation was done in readiness for that.

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  3. It must have been an incredible trip Rosemary...real adventures. So interesting to see the images of old and new together. Jx

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    1. It is hard for me to believe the differences that have happened in such a short period of time, but I am pleased that I saw it before it all changed.

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  4. A big contrast now from your last visit to Shanghai. China's major cities have really progressed so fast. It is the same in other Asian countries, they want progress and Development right away. Good thing you prevented ending up on the lake. I bet your Chinese food there was delicious and had great entertainment.

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    1. We did have some wonderful banquets and interesting food - but sea slugs and jellyfish - not really my cup of tea.

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  5. Such an impressive city and so different from Europe! You did see some beautiful parts of the world!

    Happy evening!

    Madelief x

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    1. Dear Madelief - I only know Shanghai from the 1980s as I have not been back since the massive reconstruction everywhere. When we visited it was certainly different from anywhere else we had ever been to.

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  6. Rosemary,
    I enjoyed reading about these wonderful memories and images of your time in China. They looks such a contrast to what it looks like today. The lakes full of lotus flowers look incredible.
    Sarah x

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    1. The lake inspired words from a famous Song dynasty poet when he compared it to Xi Zi, the most beautiful woman in ancient China. The Lotus leaves that were wrapped around the chicken we had came from this lake.

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  7. Dear Rosemary, what an impressive trip! It seems not everything came out as planned or happened in time but I believe that is why you remember everything so vividly! Huge changes are going on and a lot is not comprehensible for people from the West (especially the politic). It is wonderful of you to take us with you and show photographs from first hand. I am off to the other parts now! Till then... Christa

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    1. Dear Christa - I wish digital cameras had been around then, but it has been interesting to visit my old photograph albums. It is surprising how much you can recall once you start walking down memory lane.
      Now I am left wondering where you are off to!!!

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  8. Dear Rosemary,i can see in your pictures,the difference of then,and now!There have been huge changes in this city !!Thank you for sharing!Have a lovely week!
    Dimi..

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    1. When I think of the time scale involved between our visit and the changes now they are enormous. It just looks like a completely different place.

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  9. The speed of modernisation in China is astonishing, and your photos really bring this out. I do hope the lakes of lotus blossom are still there, though; and I am glad you did not end up in the water! Thank you for another fascinating post.

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    1. Dear Patricia - fortunately I do know that the area around the lakes in Hangzhou has remained exactly the same. It is an ancient landscape created by the Chinese and represents many legendary stories and poems for them.

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  10. Dear Rosemary -

    There's something quite special and exciting, about having experienced a place that is irrevocably changed. I see the bamboo scaffolding in your photo and it reminds me of sights I saw in Hong Kong in the 1960s. I wonder if either place still uses bamboo that way?

    The beautiful photograph of the pavilion on the lake reminds me of the ubiquitous "Willow" pattern. I'll bet such a scene was its inspiration . . .

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    1. Dear Mark - there are weeping willows trees where orioles sing. Willows were considered the perfect complement to an imperial landscape during the Song Dynasty - this was once an imperial garden, and so all of the elements are there for the Willow pattern design. You must be right, I am sure the design comes from Hangzhou.
      How I wish that digital cameras were around then.

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  11. The changes are indeed remarkable.
    I had to laugh on the incident on that lake and the diplomatic consequences an accident there might have had. Sorry I know it's not funny at all... This was definitely a trip to remember for life.

    Thank you for bringing such an extraordinary and pretty unknown (to me) place closer

    lots of love

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    1. Dear Demie - I suppose because we experienced so many incidents that were completely new to us, and had our assumptions confronted daily, it has made for lasting memories. I was surprised at how much flooded back to me once I started writing. The happenings that were unique are as clear today as they were at the time, and yet I cannot for the life of me remember how we got from Shanghai to Hangzhou.

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  12. What a precious journey of China, love it.

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    1. Thanks Bob - wish that better cameras had been around then.

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  13. Amazing how it all changed in a few years, great photos and really enjoyed the reading. It Is incredible how vivid everything still is in your mind , must have been really impressive.

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    1. Dear Jane - I was surprised at how much I remembered myself once I began writing. When your own experiences of the world are so different and and your values confronted daily, I suppose the differences makes for a more vivid and lasting impact. Thank you I am pleased that you enjoyed reading it.

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  14. What a difference back then to now. I did chuckle regarding the near dip in the water :)

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    1. I think because we had so many different experiences that is the reason that I remember so much of it vividly.

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  15. Great memories of what must have been a wonderful journey!
    A true adventure into the heart of a people.

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    1. It did seem like an adventure at the time as so few people actually ventured to China then - mainly people on business but not on holiday. Of course my husband was working but we both shared wonderful experiences whilst there.

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  16. Dear Rosemary, this is such a lovely post! China is such a long way away and we really don't know about the way people live, in China... we can only imagine what it must be like and the "image" we have is all wrong!But... China has come to us!

    In the town of Modugno,where we bought our new house, in Italy, there is quite a large Chinese community and even a little Chinese restaurant! We are lucky, though my husband is fussy about Chinese food: he expect the same quality Chinese food as you get in Ollie's in Manhattan (though I suspect this may not be the real thing!)

    Opposiet my sister's live a Chinese family. They often have parties and I find myself watching the little Chinese children, walking round the house, with a little bowl and chopsticks.

    At home time, all the children come home from school. They are all friends, together, holding hands, joking and laughing together. I can't help feeling that it's really wonderful! Who would have ever thought that Italy would have become such a multi-cultural nation? You see, we don't have to go to China, anymore, as China has come to us!

    Sorry I strayed from the main theme of the post, Rosemary! You know what I'm I like!

    I enjoyed your lovely post, Rosemary! visiting your blog is always such a great pleasure!

    HUGS

    ANNA
    xxx

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    1. I have always been surprised how many Chinese restaurants there are in the UK up and down the whole of the country even in isolated little towns in Scotland. I admire their work ethic, the way they knuckle down and bring a little bit of China into their restaurants and carryouts.
      I don't think that I have seen all that many Chinese restaurants in Italy or for that matter in France, but as you mentioned Italy is now becoming more of a multi-cultural nation.
      It does seem a long way when you travel to China, and I certainly haven't got it in me any more - USA is about my limit now.
      I enjoy receiving your comments Anna and I am happy that you come and visit - you are always welcome.

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    2. You are right, Rosemary: not many Chinese restaurants in Italy, as we are very spoilt by our own delicious cuisine and I guess it's the same in France. I have an open mind (and palate!) and enjoy eating a variety of food, though I have to say that to me, there's nothing as good as pasta! But I will try anything... went out for a fantastic Indian meal with my friend Jane, last week!

      Have a lovely evening!

      XX

      ANNA

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    3. Late responding Anna - I was busy cooking pasta for supper!!!

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  17. Your China posts have been fascinating, rosemary, not only because it's a country I've never visited, but because you show just how much it has changed in the last 30 years. I've really enjoyed them and envy you the memories of a different China.

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    1. Dear Perpetua - it is interesting how much actually came back to me once I started writing - and I pleased that you found them interesting - thank you.

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  18. Wonderful story Rosemary, I have a feeling you were very lucky to have experienced Shanghai when you did, although I believe they are still quite fascinated with foreigners. My parents-in-law travelled there a few years ago and they laugh at being stared at for their big noses (normal size to us, but apparently huge to the people of China.)

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    1. Dear Rosemary - I remember reading that they call us "big nose" people - they were very keen to talk to us in English having never had the experience of talking to an English speaking person before. They also wanted to quiz us on whether we had "back doors" giving access to better jobs and opportunities.

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  19. It must have been interesting receiving insights into what was happening in each city through the exchange of conversation with officials as well as enjoying the cultural aspects of entertainment and refreshments. Lovely to think there was a shared scientific and environmental interest. The visit to the beautiful Lakes must have been particularly memorable.

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    1. The lakes do not look as lovely as they should from my film photos. Being film I also had to limit myself as to how many photos I took. We forget how easy it is today when we can just shoot away to our hearts content, and then recharge the batteries in the hotel room ready to do the same thing again.
      As one commenter mentioned the lakes must have been the inspiration for the Willow Pattern design.

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  20. Quite a change! My husband's brother was working for seven months in Shanghai in Expo a few years ago.

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    1. I should imagine that your brother-in-law would be surprised if he saw my photos of Shanghai.

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  21. The differences seen in growth with the passage of time! You've had an interesting trip with plenty of experience and thankfully has not been that accident! I liked the river with water lilies and beautiful gazebos!Thank you for sharing your images !

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    1. Dear Olympia - how I wish I had a digital camera then. We are so fortunate these days that we can just take as many photos as we want without having to worry about the cost of buying and developing films which I am sure you remember used to be very expensive. I have enjoyed thinking back to the time of our trip and recalling some of the incidents that occurred whilst we were there.

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  22. Your colage picture is fantastic, certainly the Pudong part.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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  23. What a fantastic opportunity. Do you fancy a return trip to retrace your steps Rosemary?

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    1. Do you know? I don't think I do. In the 80s it was all completely different from everything we were used to, but now it is so western, it could be any other great city of the world.
      I don't think I could cope with the journey and all the travelling around for a month now - I find USA far enough to fly these days.

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