Sunday, May 06, 2007

Last night in Shanghai

I sit here in my room having mostly packed my bag, just got a few more bits to squeeze in there. Today has been a strange day really, I visited two places of worship, eaten more different things, and went bowling.

The first place we went to was Saint Ignatius Cathedral, this is a Christian Church built by the Jesuits. It is a rather striking building, this totally western Church next to the hear of Shanghais computer retail sector. We arrived just in time for Sunday mass, and Lulu said she wanted to stay. So I sat through something I haven't attended for a very very long time, I never even got to be confirmed as a Catholic so it was a strange for me especially as the service was conducted in Chinese. I could make out the tunes of some of the hymns so it was weird to hear them in Chinese. I tried my best to explain how the service worked to Lulu seemed pretty interested in the process, but it has been so long it was very hazy to me. I cant say I felt any sort of rapture for going, I did feel peaceful afterwards.

As we were in the area we went for a walk round the technology park, it was very interesting, one part of it where they sol computer components reminded me of the computer shows back in the good all days, when you really could get bargains and any sort of computer part you were after. After looking about a bit we found a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch, Lulu ordered pork balls, clam and eels. I was a bit worried about the ells but they actually turned out to be ok, much better than frogs!

From the Christian world of worship we now headed firmly firmly back to Chinese tradition at the Jingan Temple. This is a traditional Buddhist temple, part of which is wonderful the other part looks like some sort of concrete nuclear shelter. We bought some incense sticks and made a prayed to the Buddha's there then wondered around. The bell room and Buddha's were very ornate and interesting, I cant say I really understand it but I can see the beauty and power in it.

Near to Jingan Temple is a little park where and a the first building Lulu worked in, the Apollo building. The park is very beautiful and ornate, full of lovely little places to sit and enjoy the day. Apparently it is a favourite for couples to take their wedding photos; in Chinese society wedding photos with the bride and groom are usually taken before the wedding in a specially staged photo shoot.

We had some time left over before Lulu had to depart and visit her cousin before he left to go home, so we went for a walk around an older district of the town, then hit a few shops. We planned to have a game of badminton or tennis but there were no courts available so we went bowling instead. I totally sucked and Lulu beat me in the first game. In the second I won but more due to her throwing it away then my good bowling.

This evening it was a flash back to the first day of the trip as we went back to the mall we visited on day one, as I have been struggling with chopsticks all week Lulu decided we should go for stake so she could see if I could use a knife and fork. Twan Twan, Lulu's boyfriend joined us for dinner. He was explaining about the martial arts traditions in China, and that I had been by no means adventurous with my choices of food, snake. boiled monkeys head, pigeon and various body parts should also be tried! Unfortunately our food wasn't very good the stake was tougher than old boots, however the company was nice and a great way to spend my last evening.

I am now sat in my room I have pretty much packed and ready for tomorrow mornings flight, I must admit I never would have thought it after the pain of the culture shock but I think I am going to really miss Shanghai, and I hardly even scratched the surface. Lulu asked me one word to describe it, at first I thought crowded, but on reflection I decided enigmatic. This place is a riddle, I have take a look at it but I am far from solving the puzzle.
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