World Expo 2010 Shanghai China

The World Expo in 2010 was held in Shanghai China. As I was in the city at the time I had to make a visit. It is a huge area of 5.28 square km hosting incredible buildings where 192 countries are exposing their culture.

It was interesting to see and it would take several weeks to see it all. We had only one day and most of it we spent in queues to enter the most popular places. I actually refused to queue for the most popular because of queueing times of around four hours. Instead I focused at the ones with shortest or no queues.

Wedding wagon from Mongolia.

Interesting facade on a building.

Beautiful old style house with hand carved wood details.

It was very tiresome
 so a rest is needed.

The gardens need constant work.

England made this giant seed.

Filled with real seeds.

A lot of seeds.

Seeds of all kinds and shapes.

They where like ALL OVER.

The Swedish Pavilion. I showed my Swedish passport and they let me jump the queue and enter via the VIP entrance. The same trick worked in all the Scandinavian pavilions. Good to be Scandinavian on the World Expo in Shanghai. :)

Fried dumplings for dinner!

Australia by night.

Malaysia by night.

Night view over the theme pavilions.

The giant China pavilion. You can see 5 floors. Under it you have all the Chinese provinces.

The Yunnan entrance.


New Go Books

Every time I go to China I want to buy some weiqi books. The two main reasons are that it is so damn cheap and that there are so many of them to find.

This time the main reason was to find a beginners book for kids that I can give to my sisters kids. We went to the major bookshop in down town Shanghai and went to the weiqi section. There they have a wall filled with all kinds of weiqi books.  After some search we found this one. ErTong WeiQi RuMen (Go for beginner kids). The book starts with really basic things like counting liberties moving on to capturing stones and to end with medium level problems. Totally 219 pages, almost A4 sizes. The only problem with the book is that you need to know how to read Chinese, but Girlwing promised to translate the book to Swedish for the kids.

For myself I found some books as well. They are two problem books in the level 5 to 1 kyu and one book 1 kyu to dan level. The books are filled with problems. One consist of life and death and the other of tesuiji problems.

First Girlwing didn't want to let me buy the more difficult of the problem books but after some begging she allowed me to buy it if I promised not to read it until I became 1 kyu. I wonder how long time it will take me until I can start to read that one...

Also, when we came to Shanghai we had a couple of "The world of Weiqi" (围棋 天地) waiting that Girlwings father had bought for us. Those are mostly for Girlwing to read but I can find some fun in watching the pictures and trying to solve the problems in them. I can also replay the pro games with interesting variations. We have been thinking of subscribing for the magazine but then we probably have to subscribe for several copies at a time. Anyone interested in subscribing with us? It will probably be at least 50 yuan per issue.


Chinese fruit stores

Here in Shanghai you can see fruit shops everywhere. Sometimes there are really less than 100 meters between them. And all they do is sell the fruits that are available for the season, and they seem to sell well.

The key here is to understand the important social game they play in China, and that it is totally different of what we have here in Sweden.

In China, family is everything. Also friends, colleagues and neighbors are important. You have a very wide network of friends and relatives. You call your cousins wives fathers brother for your uncle. Your cousins wives fathers brothers daughter is your sister. Blood bands that in our view is so far away that we never heard their names mentioned here in Sweden is someone that you regularly visit in China.

If anyone in your family or someone among your friends have visited you, then you have to visit them in a reasonable time period. They gave you a gift (Yes it is a rule) and you have to give something of more value than you got from them. You can see the gift they gave as a loan with interest that you have to pay back next time you go to them.

So now you can see that this thing with gifts is quite important. So what is usually given as a gift?

Well it depends on how wealthy you are. Among the really rich ones it is gold and jade. When you go to the Chinese malls you will see that it is common with jewelry stores that sell small statues made of gold or small to mid sized gold bars. Amulets or jewelry made of jade is also common. Among those who try to achieve a western way of living you can buy western food or wine (which is ridiculously expensive).

If it is the season for moon festival, then it is common to give a box of fancy moon cakes. Otherwise it is never wrong to give some vitamins or omega 3 oil pills of a good quality brand. Wishing health for your loved ones is never wrong.

Another thing is to give fancy cakes or bakeries. It is believed that this is common food in the west and that we eat this for breakfast. For a Swede this sounds ridiculous, but it is just to play along...

The most common thing to give among common people, that you don't have to impress but you wish a healthy life for, is fruits. Every family along the street will then have to boy fruits as gifts at least once or twice a week. Then you start to understand that selling fruits is a big business.


Beijing Yandai Byway

We have been in Beijing for a couple of days visiting old friends to Girlwing. Soon it is time to go back to Shanghai again but first we decided to take some time for sightseeing.

We once before, in 2006, visited a bar street at night by the river. Just a quick stop and a short walk before we went home. It was dark and a lot of people but it seemed like a nice area. So we wanted to go there again when the sun is shining.

I didn't expect so much people there but it is an old area aiming at tourists so we were not alone there. Though it will be a lot busier at night when all the bars open and everybody is having a party.

On a sign in the end of the street I read: "The Yandai (literally meaning "tobacco pipe") Byway measures 232 meters long. It was known as Gulou Byway over two centuries ago as recorded in an ancient map of the capital city. During the late Qing Dynasty, it was renamed Yandai according to local annals and vendors along the street mainly dealt with smoking sets besides paintings, calligraphic works, jade ware and other curios. As it embodies traditional folk customs and distinctive features of old Beijing, Xicheng District Government launched a protective restoration in 2007; and it was designated as a Speciality Shopping Street by Beijing Municipal Bureau of Commerce."

Street view

 This cool guy was sitting just inside a shops open door, 
chewing his toe nails.

 One of the many small shops along the street.

A midget terracotta soldier, 
equipped and ready to party!

The romantic river where you can hire a pedal boat.

 A lot of bars along the river and the drinks are not expensive.

 When you are too drunk to walk you can let this guy give you a ride back to the hotel. That will cost less than one of the drinks you had.

A local girl.

More shops.

The last dinner in Beijing for this time. This plate is huge! Probably food for at least three persons. Girlwing always buys too much food. But it was tasty!


Great Mosque of Xi'an

Our next stop was the Muslim quarters in Xi'An. There is supposed to be a really old and beautiful Muslim mosque there and we wanted to see it.

Directly when you enter the streets to the Muslim quarters you notice a different atmosphere. The people are dressed differently and the many food stands look different. It is very interesting. There are around 80000 Muslims in the city and they all seem to be focused in this area.

Soon we found a sign saying "The ancient mosque 150 meters. You are welcome!", so we turned around that corner in to a very narrow path between the houses. A couple of Muslim men ran past us hurrying forward and we saw then turn in to an opening ahead. We walked there and entered where they disappeared. As soon as we entered the mosque we understood why the men was in such a hurry. It was time for praying and the mosque was filled with people. So we stood still outside and watched them pray. The mosque is very beautiful but we didn't dare to take any pictures during the ceremony. So after about ten minutes we walked out from there. the picture to the right show how it looked just outside the main gate.

So we walked away and took a stroll through a small shopping street with everyting a tourist would ever want to buy and a lot of other  crap. When we came to the other end of the shopping street we found an entrance to another mosque. If it wasn't for Girlwing I would have missed it totally. Thank gods that she can read Chinese! The first mosque we visited is actually the new mosque that was built instead of the old one. And I think the new one looked really really old.

The old mosque is around 1360 years old. The mosque is quite special in that it doesn't look Arabic at all but have a typical Chinese style. You can see some Arabic writings here and there but that is all. It is very beautiful with its gardens and ancient Chinese style houses. I think that is a good thing, because it is the religion that is the important thing, not the design of the buildings.

The entrance to the Great mosque of Xi'an.

 One of the many cool houses in the garden.

 The path to the Great mosque.
Several small "houses" on the way there.

 Still on the path to the mosque.

 Just a couple of more houses and then we are there...

 Ah, there it is!

A quick look inside the Great mosque on Xi'An.

Xi'An Great City Wall

As I mentioned earlier we took a closer look at the great city wall of Xi'An. It is an impressive piece of work.

The first version was build 2200 years ago. It took four years to build and when completed it measured 25.7 km in length, enclosing an area of 36 km.

Inside is now the actual city centre and there is where you will find everything worth watching. And of course the wall itself is worth a visit.

The wall is wide enough for a bus to drive on it, though I didn't see one... but you can rent bikes if you are in a hurry around it. It was still slightly raining so we took a walk around half of the wall. In the picture up to the left you see me reading the city wall map in front of one of the entrances to the city. The city wall is behind me and the house on top of the wall is for the army archers to snipe on enemies.

Here is the house again after we climbed up. 
Notice the scale, it is not a small wall.

Matching waste bins.

 One of the many smaller houses on the wall.
Probably shelter for the soldiers.

 Imagine you are the enemy down there and
I am aiming my crossbow at you.

 Three small police cars, no police...  But around the corner behind the police car there is an entrance to a toilet, so I didn't dare to borrow the car. :(

 Cool Chinese roofs. Used to belong to a rich Chinese merchant, but now the government officials are using it.

 This can probably be of use in case of an invasion.

 The wall continues like forever...

Here we will get off the wall and enter the Muslim quarters. That is another place you must see when you go to Xi'An and you can read about it in my next blog entry. Cool house by the way.