Monthly Archives: October 2012

Shanghai, China Part 5


Shanghai, China Part 5

Part 5

We went into the Bank of China to exchange some Yen into Yuan (Chinese money) and had to fill out 3 different forms and show all our identification it took close to a half hour. This is the interior of the bank. The dollar is about 6.28 Yuan to the Dollar the day we were in Shanghai..

Many of the buildings are beautiful inside and out and others are totally dilapidated. During the Olympics the Government wanted to save face and gave a lot of the old buildings facelifts.. But only on the outside, basically a coat of paint so that it looked like they took care of their buildings but it was just a facelift and none of the interiors were rehabbed. For the Chinese it is all about “Face”.

Shanghai is a city of over 25 Million people but it is built in such a way that you don’t feel like there are so many people. In the main district (The Bund) you feel like you are in Manhattan or any other large US city. Most streets are wide and the buildings are high so there seems to be enough space for everyone. Look at the size of the interior of the bank.


Here are some of these beautiful buildings that have been built in the last 10 years.The architecture is fantastic.



Plus, there are some amazing Art Deco buildings that were built during the turn of the century until 1929, mostly by Baghdad, Iraqi Jews such as the Sassoon and Kadoori families, but more on that later.


Do you see the building with the large opening at the top? There is a glass observation platform at the top.You can walk on glass and can look straight down to the street.. here are a couple of close ups.


Now look at what this beautiful city looks like at night. Many of the buildings have little light shows, such as twinkling lights and changing colored lights. It was beautiful.





On to Hong Kong.. Not sure when I will add the Jewish Heritage Tour, but eventually I will.

Internet has been non existent In Shanghai, internet is free all over the city, but you have to have a Chinese cell phone to log on. They send a txt to the phone which you then use as a password to get on. Well, who has a Chinese cell phone????? And is this just another way for “big brother” to monitor your computer? HMMMM !


Shanghai, China Part 2



Shanghai, China  Part 2 

Part 2

So the second day, we (K, Jim, Wools and I) walked to the Old City where there was a ton of small shops that had huge sales, prices were reasonable, and we could negotiated. Got Kelly the bag she wanted, got Mel the earrings she wanted, and more. We walked the alleys and streets and saw some very interesting restaurants and food stalls.



Can you imagine what the health department would do with these restaurants??

Street scenes and people


Brushing teeth in the street


Laundry hanging from electric lines, everywhere


Peking duck and more


Sign in small park


The sign above is behind the woman knitting in the park. We saw many women knitting. Can you see the needles she is using? DPNs that are about 14 inches long. Everyone we saw knitting was using these needles. We didn’t see circular needles anywhere. Wools and I kept asking them where there was an Knitting store but no one understood what we wanted. Finally, a woman knew some English and pointed us in the right direction. I forgot to take pictures.. Sorry, but the yarn was in the back room of a sweater shop and they have some really nice yarn all prepackaged and ready to go. Since I brought way too much with me only Wools got.. Now of course, I can kick myself for not buying since she paid about a $1 each and got 100% wool, 50 grams of sock yarn. I asked the owner if they have circular needles and he showed me what he had.. they were about a 0000 size with a smooth join and a cable that seemed to be a plastic coated wire. I asked him for more and he showed us all the circs he had, about 5 pairs of different sizes. Wools and I grabbed them. They were 35 CENTS each. He also gave us a gift of those long 14 inch DPNs.What a deal. I hope I find another shop in Hong Kong.


We were told that a building like this holds about 100 residents.


Once the Communist Government took over, people had to move in together so, a building that used to hold one family, that had 3 floors would now have at least 3 families if not 6 families, depending on the size of the floor. They divided up the building so that each family had their own individual electric and water meters and the kitchens were divided into smaller units according to the number of families that were in the building. Some didn’t have bathrooms and the people would (and still do) take their chamber pots to a central location and dump their “dump”! Below is the typical way that the kitchen was divided. This kitchen has 3 sections, one for each family. Each has their own sink and counter space and a bare bulb above it. You can tell how different each family treats their “kitchen”. Who was cleaner than the other. Ovens don’t exist, they only use a hot plate and of course a wok. This is how things are in the older sections of the city. In the last 10 years or so, the government has built these huge residential apartment buildings where each apartment, though small, has it’s own private kitchen and bath. You can purchase an apartment from the government for about the same price as an average apartment cost in the USA but… you can only keep it for 50 to 70 years and then it reverts back to the government. But, at least you don’t pay property tax!


Pajamas in the street????


A seamstress sewing in the street.


Shanghai, China Part 1


Shanghai, China

Part 1

Since we went on this fantastic tour the first day and K is way better with explaining and remembering the names and dates that will be associated with the Jewish Heritage Tour we went on ..I am going to start with the second day first and tackle the first day later. I will say that the tour took 4.5 hours and we really saw how Jews lived during the time it was OK to live in Shanghai (from the 1800s to 1949 when the Communists came to power). The guide was an Israeli expat who lives in Shanghai and we felt like we had a professor explaining it all to us.

One thing we realized is that there is an undercurrent of big brother watching.. While on this tour at the model of the original synagogue we encountered another tour given by a Chinese woman and overheard her talking about how China took care of their Jews etc. totally exaggerating the facts, but we will continue later on that.

We arrived to a beautiful morning..The ship parked at the terminal which is right near the Bund. The Bund is the heart of Shanghai’s business district and both sides of the ship had amazing views..

Views from the ship





What is so amazing is that all these buildings have been built during the last 10 years. Before everything here was marsh land. We all stood in awe.

Our second day started and we decided to go shopping.The first day was reserved for the tour and by the time we got back we were pretty exhausted, but since the vans dropped us off near the major pedestrian mall we walked around a little to window shop and check out the stores,  We brought one thing only since everything seems really expensive. When we got back to the ship, though, the item was confiscated it, the security man who checks the bags through the    X-ray machine did a double take and stopped us, I guess he didn’t expect to find that in my bag..I’ll get it back when we dock in Fort Lauderdale but I am so excited that I finally found the perfect kitchen knife and it wasn’t so expensive.. whoo hoo.. Damascus steel, hand forged, 8 inch kitchen knife with an ebony handle… I am so excited!!!!   


Sitting on a bench on the street people watching,  I  noticed  that the Chinese, unlike the Japanese, don’t have a clue how to dress.. There are more fashion victims here than anywhere else I have ever seen. It’s as if they all are in the 90s.. or even the 80s. They have no clue.

fashion 4Fashion

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Pantsfashion 3

Beijing, China Part 3


Beijing, China Part 3

On the grounds of the Temple, in front of the gates, people were playing games, and there was a class of kids drawing the Temple. We found the teacher, too.



We even found a bunch of women knitting and crocheting.


First we found ourselves at a Silk Factory. We saw how the process of making silk works. Silk is extremely strong and versatile. You can make duvets out of silk, or clothes or fine bed linens. You can see how they stretch the silk fibers over screens to strengthen them.. Eventually they can be pulled like strudel dough for producing a quilt.





We barely made it back to the ship, getting there just 15 minutes before All Aboard. On the way we saw many more cities being built.

A last look at Beijing.


Our little group!


Thank you so very much, Marianne for arranging this great excursion! (She’s the one in the middle sitting on the ground in the purple hoodie).

Our next stop – Shanghai.

Stay tuned……….

Beijing, China Part 2


Beijing, China Part 2

Some background and history:

The Forbidden City (called that because only the Emperor and his family were allowed inside) was built between 1406 and 1420. Followed by the Temple of Heaven and Tiananmen Square. Mao Zedong (aka Chairman Mao) is buried in Tiananmen Square, and people line up for hours to walk past his embalmed body, either to worship him or to make sure he is dead!

There must have been hundreds of thousands of people in the Square and the Forbidden City. Even the guide said he never saw so many people. A few days before we got to the Forbidden City it was reported that 182,000 people passed through it on that specific day.


To cross the road you had to go under a tunnel, and here is everyone coming out of the tunnel leading to the Forbidden City.


The Gate to the Forbidden City with Mau Zedong’s picture.


China is full of gates.. Gates lead to gates that lead to more gates.

The Forbidden City is all about gates. One gate leads to another, that leads to another. The Emperor was basically paranoid and believed that having gates (and he also had a moat) would make it difficult for someone to approach without being seen.




Flowers in Tiananmen Square



The Military was everywhere




The Chinese Emperor also kept concubines, so many that he didn’t remember who they were. They had separate apartments around the compound, with eunuchs watching all of them. The ground of the city was laid with bricks, 17 layers of bricks so that nothing could penetrate. He also didn’t have any trees or plants anywhere except in the Imperial Gardens on the North side of the compound.


The building was built above everything else. When there were meetings with the Emperor the great big urns you see were filled with incense and smoke covered the levels so that the building looked like it was in the heavens.

The vastness of the Forbidden City, and the actual bricks from the 1400s.



Since NO ONE was allowed into the city they had these big urns, placed all around the city, that were filled with water just in case a fire broke out. Since it gets very cold in Beijing in winter, the urns were placed on a platform that allowed the servants to build fires under the urns to prevent them from freezing.


The Imperial Gardens had strange rock formations. The prized concubines and their families lived around the garden.



One of the many statues in the garden.


The moat surrounding the City.


Once we left the Forbidden City we had lunch and visited one more temple, The Temple of Heaven. Then it would be time for SHOPPING!

Lunch was a basic Chinese Buffet, but this guy was shredding a huge glob of dough into a pot of hot water, making noodles


The view from the Temple of Heaven.. I was kind of done with Temples altogether. Had enough, but since this Temple is built on the highest point we had some great views.



The Gates leading to and from the Temple of Heaven.


The Chinese are amazing craftsmen, as you can see from all the buildings. Interior of the Temple