This is the fourth and last post on China - previous post here.
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 J 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.