Friday, May 28, 2010

Getting My Bearings

Central Shanghai can be roughly divided into two halves split by the Huangpu River.Puxi, to the west of the river, contains the historic areas of the city with the Bund and the French Concession as well as other districts such as the Old Town and Peoples Square area which is the geographic centre of modern day Shanghai.
To the east of the river is Pudong,the ultramodern face of Shanghai, with the garish Oriental Pearl Tower and the Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone with the Jinmao Tower and the Shanghai World Finance Centre towering over the area.
In the picture above a paddle steamer makes its way down the Huangpu river through the haze.This shot is looking towards the Pudong side of the river.

One of the first things I had to consider was which side of the Huangpu I would live on.There are more oppurtunities for cheaper accomodation and better shopping and other facilities on the Puxi side as opposed to Pudong.Theres also commuting time to be taken into account.Where you work obviously is an important consideration.Do you really want to face an hour subway commute after work or be able to walk home in ten minutes?
If you live in Pudong which lacks the bars and restaurants of the Puxi districts one must note the time of the last subway or alternatively pay for a taxi back home over the river after a meal or beer.

The Huangpu River regularly has ocean going tankers and ocean liners moving at a stately pace studiously avoiding the other river craft such as barges and tourist boats zipping about them.Last week,one of New Zealands two frigates Te Kahu was in port.It was part of the ships current tour and was in town for six or so days.The ship was anchored on the west or Bund side of the Hangpu River.The grey atmosphere which was a combination of sea fog and Shanghai's smog provided the perfect camouflage for the ship. Unfortunately grey smoggy days that obscure the views and make taking photos problematic are all too common here.Im still trying to work out things like exposure times and lenses to get the best shots possible given the conditions.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sheepless in Shanghai.

Back.Finally.I arrived in Shanghai at the end of February.I'd returned home to New Zealand after leaving Japan in late August 2009.After a fruitless search for full-time employment I accepted a position in Shanghai,China.

I'm still finding my feet culturally and workwise.The energy of 22 odd million locals is sometimes overpowering compared to the sombre post Toyota gloom I left in Nagoya,Japan.Geographically I live in an area of Shanghai called Pudong.Its an interesting area undergoing rapid expansion.Theres an uneasy mixture of old style residential gated compounds cheek by jowl with modern skyscrapers.The photo above comes from a local park in central Pudong.The flying saucer sculptures echo the architecture of nearby high rise buildings.

The park has a number of features including a lake that abounds in carp and huge expanses of grass though there are signs that prohibit you from sitting on the verdant green stuff.Instead you have the option of sitting on pile-inducing granite stone like benches dotted around the park.As it seems to be the only green space with trees for miles there are always wedding couples getting their photos taken there.Park staff obligingly turn on the fountain in the centre of the lake so that the happy couples can be snapped with water spouts and sprays gushing in the background.

The wedding cars are always festooned with flowers and toys such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse.The sight of this car brandishing a Hello Kitty wedding decoration produced a wry smile.I could have been back in Japan.

The last three months here in Shanghai have been frantic and at times difficult.Trying to find an apartment knowing there is a deadline to meet with immigration and visa papers to be completed,at the same time still learning a new job and trying to get to grips with a foreign culture meant there has been little time to explore Shanghai.As I recall it was the same in Nagoya.It took time for things to shakedown and establish a routine.A balance between work and recreation.Now that Ive finally got an internet connection and getting to grips with my job I will be able to see something of this city and blog about it.Hopefully.

The stretched limo you see above was ferrying a large wedding party to the park for their wedding photos.As it was rather warm and humid today the car was having a hard time of it.Although you cant see in either photo there was a cloud of steam coming from the engine.If you look carefully you may note the puddle of water in the first photo around the feet of the man wearing a black tshirt and gingerly using a cloth to look at the radiator cap.Seeing that things were getting heated in more ways than one I beat a hasty retreat.Hopefully the car and its occupants had a safe journey without incident.