Friday, August 27, 2010

Shanghai Snail Sculptures

I walk past these metallic gastropods on the way to work every day.They appear to be made of some powder coated punched metal and sit across from the Shanghai World Financial Centre providing a distraction for drivers caught in the traffic that drives past them.During the week an article ran in a local paper about a massive 10 day traffic jam that runs from Beijing to Hebei Province in Northern China.
Meanwhile in Beijing it is predicted that by 2015 with about 7 million cars on the road in the city rush hour speeds will be reduced to about 15 kilometres per hour-not so much a rush as a snail crawl.

I quite like this photo as the snails antennae are echoed in the buildings that surround them-the radio and television masts of the Oriental Pearl Tower in the left background and the assorted banks and financial buildings that cluster in the area.

Moments after arriving back from taking these shots ,the skies which had been black and menacing,did indeed open up.There was another brief but heavy bout of thunder and rainshowers.While they provide a short respite from the humidity and lower the temperature it is only a matter of minutes before the steamy summer conditions return.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Food Prices Increases

Seems rather mundane but food prices are on the rise here.China's Consumer Price Index accelerated 3.3% last month from a year earlier according to a Shanghai Daily News article.This compared with an increase of 2.9% in June and 3.1% in May.Food costs rose 6.8% from a year earlier in July,while prices in the non-food sector rose just 1.6%.
Just figures bandied about by financial analysts and the National Bureau of Statistics?.No.You can see the direct result of the recent extreme weather such as droughts and floods on food prices.
The price of the 1.5litre bottle of water has increased from 1.70 yuan to 2 yuan over the last two weeks at one supermarket I shop at.The 500 ml milk carton likewise has increased in price from 5 yuan to 5.3 yuan and in some upmarket supermarkets to 5.50 yuan.The box of 25 teabags have also increased in price from 10 yuan to 10.30 yuan and in some cases up to 10.50 yuan.There doesnt seem to be any consistency in the prices increases. In some places chocolate bars remain untouched by inflation steady at 3 yuan while other stores have hiked the price up to3.60 yuan.For people on low fixed wages and trying to save for their own house and apartment these increases provide a further challenge to stretching household budgets.
You can speculate why the food prices have increased apart from weather factor-there are a great number of tourists here for the Expo and there is an ever increasing flood of workers into the city needing food,drink and housing.All of which create demand.

And the Heat Goes On
Earlier in the week the temperature hit at least 39 degrees celsius for the fourth consecutive day.Apparently this is the first time this has happened since records began some 137 years ago.The mercury last Sunday hit 39.8 degrees.What is curious is that the temperature never seems to hit 40 degrees yet having experienced similiar weather over the past 10 summers it certainly feels hotter than 39 point whatever.I've been told factories and other companies must down tools should it ever hit the magical 40 degree mark.
There have also been 21 high temperature days defined by the Met Bureau as days of 35 degrees and above.A few thunderstorms and heavy rain cooled the city down temporarily during the week but the forecast for the next few days predict temperatures in the mid to high 30's.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mad Dogs and .....

Last Tuesday the mercury hit 39.6 degrees-the highest temperature for the year.Yesterday matched that peak and today, Friday, the temperature again is expected to hit the around the same mark and continue over the weekend.According to the Shanghai Daily yesterday was the 18th day so far in 2010 the temperature has exceeded 35 degrees.

Many people were taking advantage of the air conditioning available in shopping centres and subway stations to get out of the energy sapping temperatures.Some lay spreadeagled and slumped over benches or sprawled against walls sleeping in the humid afternoon heat.Even though my walk to work is barely 15 minutes,by its end I'm awash from head to toe in sweat.Even my eyeballs seem to have perspired.

During my daily walk I cut through the Luijazui Pudong Green.I've already posted some earlier photos of this small green area.Actually,after reading the information displayed in the park you realise it is in fact quite a large area.Around 3500 households were relocated to provide the space which opened in July 1997.The main feature in the middle of the green is a man-made lake shaped like a map of the Pudong New Area.It is stocked with carp and has a water fountain system usually in operation when married couples visit for their wedding photos.A number of walks circle the lake and there is a sail-like structure that provides shelter and coffee should you want to rest and take in the views of the skyscrapers that border the park and are reflected in the lake's waters.

There are a number of life size bronze cast figures in groups dotted around the walkways,notably a group of tourists armed with cameras and another threesome of earnest looking business types.I've noticed other random statues and figures popping up around Shanghai but havent been carrying a camera to photograph them.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Shanghai Railway Museum

Due mainly to work committments and the energy sapping heat and humidity I haven't done anything recently worthy of blogging about.My efforts have had to concentrate on preparing a presentation for my peers and this has eaten into most of my free time.The recent weather with its regular forays into the high 30s exarcerbated by short,frequent cloudbursts has also done little to get me out of the house and exploring Shanghai.Still with a lull in the workload and a need to stretch my legs I travelled a few subway stops to the Shanghai Railway Museum near Baoshan Station.It's virtually around the corner from the station.The fact that theres a 100 ton or so locomotive parked in the front courtyard also makes it difficult to miss.

According to the nearby plaque the steam locomotive was a gift from the United Nations in 1947.While the train offers some photo oppurtunities as does the passenger coach behind it,once inside the museum there are notices advising that cameras can't be used.

The Museum is built on the original site of Shanghai Station and the building itself seems to be in the classical British architectural mode of public buildings.The Museum takes up the ground floor of the building and is divided into various sections.While the staff gave me an English language pamphlet there were few other labels or translations explaining what the exhibits were or their significance.
The Museum covers the 100 plus years of rail history since the 1860's.There is a model of the first locomotive and scale models of modern rolling stock and high speed trains as well as plans of existing stations and futuristic stations planned for the future.

There was a section devoted to the old picks and shovels and other manual tools used by the early construction crews which graphically showed what a backbreaking job it must have been.Other sections are given to uniforms,signalling equipment and the like.

The photo above shows a wheel assembly unit built in Sheffield,England.If you are'nt a railway buff you can probably get round the whole museum in less than twenty minutes.Having said that the place was teeming with kids who were taking turns on some of the interactive exhibits and seemed to be enjoying themselves looking at the scale models and other equipment on display.I happened to be at the Museum at the right time for a ride in their Simulation Locomotive.This was a computer simulation where you get to control and drive a modern high speed train just as a modern driver would with the aid of a computer program and screen.The children who piled into the driver's cab with me enjoyed their chance to drive 'the train' and sound its diesel horn under the supervision of the Museum staff.
The Museum entry was 10 yuan for adults.It is open on Tuesdays,Thursdays and Fridays.Check the Museum website for opening times(the morning opening hours are currently 9-11:30 am) and other details at I said it's not a must see and given the lack of English labels and translations even less appealing,but a pleasant diversion nonetheless.