Saturday, May 14, 2011

Shanghai & Spring Airlines

China is quite the enigma. I am only writing today because I was able to get past the government's firewall (some call it the Great Firewall of China. A little obvious? Yes.) through fooling them into thinking I was accessing this website from the UK.
But where there's a wall there's a way under, over or around it I guess. Apparently anyone who's tech savy can do it. Since my last blog, proxied to you the reader from Yangshuo to Melbourne to your screens I have taken a long train journey to Shanghai, seen the sights and then taken Spring Airlines to Xi'an here, where today I saw the amazing Terra Cotta Warriors.
Really, if I could have worked this out sooner I probably would have been blogging every day. China is a world of its own, it throws things at your senses non-stop and I am well aware of where I am all the time. It's hard to forget.
Unlike India, China has a lot more structure and many more places to put it's 1.4 billion people. They just don't build 1-2 storey buildings here, it would serve no practical purpose. Even here in Xi'an there are more apartment buildings than in all of Australia. Well, we like 1-2 storeys. The younger people, say under 40, are living and riding this economic change and I am not sure they were quite prepared for it. It's a mad consumer market, the streets are not easy to walk. Everyone is out most times of every day with their shopping bags spending their hard earnt Yuan on stuff! Navigating through the throngs is not easy. Cities are big and getting bigger. I think there are like 12-15 MEGA cities in China - cities over 10 million people. It comes as no surprise.

Shanghai has a colonial past, and many of the buildings along the 'Bund' (a one mile stretch along the river) are from those times. There is a 'tourist tunnel' under the river which is more... Chinese in taste. A bizarre light show as you ride a 5 minute cable car to the other side both under and overwhelmed me. Flashing lights, loud music, commentary...

The museum is great, lots to see including some of the oldest coins in existence. China's history puts it ahead of the game in many achievements, including the first country to use money, mint coins, create paper money. Caligraphy, paitings in incredible condition for their age, jade creations 4000 years old. China has had quite the history.

Then there was the Poster Propaganda Art Exhibition, located in the basement of an apartment building. Well. Let's say it was a little Anti-American, visually inteteresting and showed quite the history of China since the cultural revolution. Better seen than spoken about, one of the quirkier yet interesting sites in China.
Oh and there were some temples and the main pedestrian shopping strip in Shanghai too. I quite liked Shanghai to be honest.

Then I flew here too Xi'an. Today I saw the Terracotta warriors - more about that in my next blog. I had one of the more harrowing plane flights of my life to get here.
Spring Airlines is one of the budget carriers here (yet not that cheap) so when I checked in and told I had to pay for baggage over 15kgs in total weight (carry on AND checked in)  I shouldn't have been surprised. We we bussed to the plane on time, and ready to go... and then informed there was a delay because we weren't cleared by air traffic control.
Nearly 2 hours, in a small cramped plane as we wait, there is not a free seat on the plane. The attendants have their work cut out for them - people are getting angry. People are yelling at the poor attendants, one got down on his knees to apologise. There is a lot of noise, it builds and builds. People chattering and people complaining. No, it is not helping the situation.
Finally we leave nearly 2 hours late. Not a big deal, just would have been better to be outside. The flight is bumpy to say the least. Plenty of turbulence. At one point the plane drops quite a few metres vertical with a 'thud'! We are fine but people start screaming and stressing. It all calms down. And then the attendant gives a 30 minute duty free speech and sells a lot of stuff. Touching down in Xi'an Airport was quite a relief...

So there we go. A little about China and what's been happening, more to come in a couple of days!

No comments: