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28/04/2013

8 strangest Shanghai museums I

Shanghai hosts all the museums you’d expect in a world-class city: countless art spaces, history exhibitions and urban planning centers. But, if you explore a little more, you’ll find that the city has its share of odder exhibition halls. You can pick up any one of them for your affordable China travel packages.

From a scrappy chopstick center to an elegant homage to music boxes, the city brims with unexpected entertainments. Here are our picks of the city’s most unusual museums.

Shanghai Typewriter Museum

Admission: Free

Why it's odd but awesome: When small children enter this tiny typewriter museum, they’re often perplexed by the 50 machines on display.

“I tell them, this is the computer’s grandfather,” says curator Han Tao Feng. Foreigners are often touched to find antique typewriters from their home countries, she adds.

The 300 typewriters were collected by Suzhou-born Lu Hanbin, an international merchant who now lives in the Czech Republic.

Don't leave without seeing: The oldest typewriter: a redwood beauty from 1809.

Shanghai Typewriter Museum, 248 Wuxing Lu, near Jianguo Lu, +86 21 6466 4556, hours: daily, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Shanghai Animation and Comics Museum

Admission: RMB 30 (adults)

Why it's odd but awesome: This shiny, futuristic homage to animation opened in 2010.

The first floor is an entrancing guide to animation’s history, from Chinese shadow puppets to Mickey Mouse. It's interspersed with life-size figurines, short film clips and a hall of movie posters. The second-floor is kid-friendly and commercial -- you can even dub your voice into popular cartoon flicks.

Don't leave without seeing: The top floor is a movie theater: separate tickets required.

Shanghai Animation and Comics Museum, 69 Zhangjiang Lu, a cab ride from Jinke station on Metro Line 2 , +86 5895 7998, hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Shanghai Antique Music Box Gallery

Admission: RMB 50 (adults), half price every first and third Saturday of the month

Why it's odd but awesome: The personal collection of a Japanese merchant, this museum is filled with mostly European music boxes.

“I wanted to come because it’s romantic and fun,” says Cherry Ding, a Shanghai high school student.

The most interesting music boxes are the ones with doll figurines that spring to life in time with the music. One features a young boy who tries to steal some jam, only to see the jar turn into his grandmother’s scolding face. Another creepier one displays a woman stewing a monkey’s head.

Don't leave without seeing: The oldest music box in the world: a tiny golden contraption dating from 1796.

Shanghai Antique Music Box Gallery, 425 Dingxiang Lu, Shanghai Oriental Arts Center which should be considered for your best tours of China, near Yingchun Lu, Metro Line 2 Science and Technology Museum Station +86 21 6854 7647, hours: daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Chopsticks Museum

Admission: Free

Why it's odd but awesome: This tiny, cold room, shared with a jewelry saleswoman, is perhaps the smallest museum in Shanghai.

Lan Xiang, 81, lives upstairs and displays his collections of chopsticks in a first-floor cabinet.

As a young man, Xiang, a writer, traveled throughout Asia in search of chopsticks. If you speak Putonghua, he’ll tell you the story of his quest to collect more than 2,000 pairs including a gilded silver set from the Tang Dynasty.

There aren’t many on display though: “My best ones are in the bank,” Xiang says. But, his story alone is worth a visit.

Don't leave without seeing: Xiang's book “Chinese Chopsticks,” which is avalable in Chinese, English and French.

Chopsticks Museum, 191 Duolun Lu, near Sichuan Lu, Metro Line 3 Dongbaoxing Lu Staion +86 21 5671 7528, hours: daily, call ahead for appointment

Shanghai Calligraphy Museum

Admission: Free

Why it's odd but awesome: This one-room museum begins with the history of ink-making, and tells the story of its migration to Shanghai. Glass exhibits showcase various ink pads and brushes while wall scrolls illustrate the beauty of the calligraphy.

“What I loved was just the fact that they had such a museum in the first place,” says Shahana Chattaraj, who was visiting Shanghai from New York. “It shows such a reverence for writing, and the written script as an art form.”

Don't leave without seeing: English recordings next to the exhibits tell the stories behind the artifacts, such as juicy tales of competition among ink makers.

Shanghai Calligraphy Museum, 2/F, 429 Fuzhou Lu, near Fujian Zhong Lu, +86 21 6328 1558, hours: daily 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

If you want to know more, you can contact with China tour agents.

09:30 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

27/04/2013

How to find a great escape in the Great Wall

Hikes along the Great Wall are a relatively simple option, easily accessible from Beijing, and can be done leisurely over several days or in a power-trek over just one or two days.

We geared up for the Gubeikou section of the Great Wall in Miyun County, about two hours north of Beijing which is an indispensible destination for last minute China travel deals.

We hiked to four Ming watchtowers on the peaks of rigid hills where we set up camp in a windy tower, downed a few Stella beers and enjoyed the expansive views.

"Checking in" at the Great Wall at Gubeikou. Equipment and camping gear is strewn about. Sleeping, or trying to sleep, in a watchtower is rough. The two-hour hike along rigid peaks to reach the watchtower was no easy task. Now this is a view worth hiking all day for. We hiked uphill through muddy trails overgrown with trees and lilac bushes to three more watchtowers. Still standing strong and looking remarkably solid even after all these years. The view seemed endless. We counted 15 watchtowers on the hilltops around us.

A final look out from the Gubeikou tower window before we departed.

Camping the Great Wall of China

It isn't as difficult to camp the Great Wall as one might think. A quick Google search finds a plethora of companies offering hikes and camping China tours.

Mountain Biking Asia leads a five-day, 40-kilometer trek in Hebei province (from US$2,000 per person).

China Adventure Tours runs hikes ranging from one to 24 days (US$74 to US$3,200+ per person). Or you can go it alone.

A 10-kilometer stretch between Jinshanling and Simatai is a popular section for hiking, and Huanghuacheng and Mutianyu also have sections of well-preserved wild Wall.

Beijing taxis will take you to the wall for about US$70 round trip. Bring plenty of food and water, a flashlight for each person (we learned this the hard way), and toilet paper (missing a flashlight makes things in this area, uh, difficult).

Designate a group toilet, most definitely not in the tower.

Rules and regulations about hiking and camping on the Wild Wall are murky. Technically, Beijing Municipality limits access to parts of the wall not designated tourist areas (Hebei province does not), but rules are rarely enforced. Graffiti, removing bricks and littering are all illegal.

Also, be respectful of your surroundings and don't act like idiots if you choose to camp on (or in) a historic site like the Great Wall of China which is always contained in popular China travel package.

10:05 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

26/04/2013

The 24-hour Shanghai travel guide II

Afternoon

 

12. Former French Concession

The former French Concession is the most walkable area of Shanghai and occupies a few square kilometers in southern downtown.


Apart from the Bund, the tree-lined area is the best place to experience Shanghai’s colonial history.

Quiet and narrow streets are filled with 1920s and 1930s European architecture, with plenty of art deco still to be seen.

Find a quiet starting point, such as Hunan Lu near Wukang Lu, turning into any lane or quiet street you see; or follow the walking tour route designed by a former French Concession native.

Shanghai (a must-see for China travel deals) in 24 hours -- shoppingDesigner boutiques abound in the former concession.

13. Shopping

The shopping options in the former French Concession are almost as intricate as the layout of the streets, with new stores popping up and closing down with the seasons.

Wuyuan Lu, east of Wulumuqi Lu, is home to some vintage-wear and designer jewelry. Local fashionistas frequent the intersection between Taojiang Lu and Yueyang Lu for the high-fashion multi-brand store The Villa.

This peaceful crossroads of Taijiang and Yueyang contains a bust of Alexander Pushkin in its center (evidence of the area's former Russian flavor) as well as a number of good bars, restaurants and homeware stores.

Wuyuan Lu, near Changshu Lu, The Villa, 1 Taojiang Lu, near Yueyang Lu; +86 21 6466 9322; open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. (Tuesday-Sunday)

14. Street snacks

Shanghai street food tends to be oily, greasy and stuffed with carbs, but don’t let that stop you.

The section of Wukang Lu, between Anfu Lu and Wuyuan Lu, has a selection of afternoon snacks.

Try the flat, herb-crusted bread or one of the baked dough swirls -- vegetarians beware, they contain pork fat.

There is also a buzzing wet market in the area, the places for locals to buy meat, vegetables, live fish and poultry.

Wukang Lu, near Wuyuan Lu

15. Chinese massage

It's time to get off your feet for an hour and enjoy a massage.

Chinese consider totally blind and partially sighted masseurs having a superior sense of touch so they can really feel where your body needs work.


Traditional Chinese massage doesn't use oil and is done over clothing and it can be very firm. For a softer option, ask for an oil massage or just let them work on your feet. Chinese massage should be tried for your China tours in Shanghai.

Yilin Blind Massage, No. 1, Lane 100 Nandan Dong Lu, near Tianyaoqiao Lu; +86 21 6464 3786; open daily, 10 a.m.-1 a.m. An one-hour body massage costs around RMB 60.

Evening

16. Walk in the shoes of criminals

For a peep into the golden days of Shanghai in the 1930s, opt in to the Gangster Walk which threads a path through the opium trade in 19th and eary 20th century. The war built Shanghai from a muddy stretch of riverbank into the metropolis it became.

Follow the footsteps of infamous gangsters such as "Big Ears" Du, who controlled the trade and was one of the wealthiest men in Shanghai, along with his friend and cohort "Pock-Marked" Huang, a senior member of the French police force and the head of the local Green Gang back in pre-revolutionary China.

Newman Tours' Gangster Walk is an English guided tour and takes place every Friday and Sunday afternoon. Their guides accept popular China tours request in other times. Price for an adult starts from RMB 260. Reserve a spot at info@newmantours.com then meet at exit three of Changshu Metro Station, Huaihai Zhong Lu near Changshu Lu

17. Dancers in the park

Every evening around dusk, Shanghai's older residents gather at a number of parks and green spaces for public dancing sessions.


Most people practice formal ballroom dancing in pairs to contemporary pop music, which blares from a set of portable speakers. Locals consider it a fun way to socialize and keep fit.

No one minds if you watch.

Fuxing Park and Xiangyang Park are good places to catch some public dancing.

18. High-class local cuisine

Shanghainese food is nothing like Chinese food overseas. It's oily and sweet, laden with dozens of varieties of bean curd and usually packed with bones. Jesse on Tianping Lu is a popular venue to enjoy the local fare.

This is a tiny place so expect to wait for a table. Try specialties such as hongshaorou (a sweet, fatty pork dish) and kaofu (a sweet, spongy tofu variant).

This is the original Jesse. If it's too crowded and hectic, there are four others (called Xin Jishi, or New Jesse) dotted around town that have more of a chain-restaurant feeling.

The original Jesse, 41 Tianping Lu, near Huaihai Zhong Lu; +86 21 6282 9260; open daily, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., 5:30 p.m.-midnight

Xin Jishi at Xintiandi, North Block, Lane 181 Taicang Lu, near Madang Lu, +86 21 6336 4746, open daily, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5 p.m.-11p.m.

19. Finally, cocktails!

Cocktails are not traditionally part of Chinese culture, but they have been a fixture in Shanghai since the early 20th century when the city was a treaty port.

Head to any of the three local-run Constellations bars for possibly Shanghai’s best cocktails.


The emphasis here is on finely made traditional cocktails, though the bars also have great whisky selections.

For something as strong-spirited as the city itself, go for a T&T, a mixture of Tanqueray gin and Wild Turkey bourbon. It may be elegantly served by a waistcoated bar steward, but this drink will leave most visitors on the floor.

Constellation 1, 86 Xinle Lu, near Xiangyang Bei Lu; +86 21 5404 0970; Constellation 2, 33 Yongjia Lu, near Maoming Nan Lu; +86 21 5465 5993; Constellation 3, 251 Huangpi Bei Lu, near Jiangyin Lu; +86 21 5375 2712; open daily, 7 p.m.-2 a.m. (all three outlets)

20. Local poison

The local spirit that’s been consumed in China for millennia is baijiu -- literally, "white liquor."

Distilled from sorghum or rice, baijiu runs from exceedingly cheap to extremely expensive. While some only cost a few yuan, one of the nation's most popular brands, Wuliangye has a bottle that retails for RMB 26,800.

All Chinese restaurants will have baijiu on the menu ranging from 80-120 percent proof. To the uninitiated palate, baijiu will almost always taste like a sip of liquid fire.

If that's just too strong for your blood, sip some of its weaker, sweeter cousin, huangjiu (yellow liquor), which can be found in Chinese restaurants or in supermarkets.

21. Where the locals play

Chinese nightclubs are some of the gaudiest places on earth, where the sons and daughters of the local elite compete in excessive displays of disposable wealth against a soundtrack of never-ending Lady Gaga remixes.

Club like Shanghai’s No. 88 or Phebe mounts a flatscreen TV on every wall, their wait staff dressed like Akihabara rejects.

Instead of a spacious dancefloor, a bar, or even a discernable DJ, these places go for golf-playing models and pianists in their underwear, KTV rooms, fruit plates and parades every time customers order an expensive bottle of Champagne.

Phebe 3D Club, 10 Hengshan Lu, near Gao'an Lu; +86 21 6555 9998, +86 21 5481 0421; open daily, 9 p.m.-5 a.m.

Club No. 88, 88 A Mansion, 2/F, 291 Fumin Lu near Donghu Lu ; +86 21 6136 0288; open daily, 9:30 p.m.-4 a.m.

22. Jazz at the Peace Hotel

One of the oldest hotels in Shanghai still stands to this day and, though the name has changed, you can still catch up on some traditional jazz there every night.

Back in 1929, the luxury hotel was opened by Victor Sassoon as the Cathay Hotel, and its jazz band was the talk of the town. The hotel re-opened as the Peace Hotel in 1956, but was closed in 2007 for a major facelift.

Now, the Bund (must-see attractions for your top China tours) estate is back to its former glory, an art nouveau palace with the same jazz standards roaring away nightly in the back bar. Some of the eldest jazz musicians in the band have been playing there since the pre-1949 Shanghai.


23. Karaoke

Since being introduced to the Chinese mainland in the 1980s, karaoke -- or KTV, as it's known here -- has become one of key evening pastimes in Shanghai.

The most popular KTV chains are Haoledi and Cashbox. Each rent rooms from small cupboard-sized affairs to huge suites suitable for 20 or more.

Rooms run from around RMB 60 an hour to much more for something lavish, but all have a decent selection of Western songs with English subtitles as well as thousands of Chinese pop.

Most KTV places stay open very late and it's not uncommon to head out singing at 3 a.m., after first soaking up some courage in a club.

Cashbox Partyworld has branches all over the city, but this is a popular one: 109 Yandang Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu; +86 21 6374 1111; open daily, 11 a.m.-6 a.m.

Ditto with Haoledi: 6/F, 479 Nanjing Dong Lu, near Fujian Zhong Lu; +86 21 6311 5858; open 24 hours

24. Shouning Lu

For one final meal before the sun comes up, head to Shouning Lu for a street-full of all-night barbecue seafood restaurants. Each serves a range of mollusks and crustaceans.

Chinese specialties available here include Xiaolongxia, or crayfish, in summer and hairy crab in autumn.

Xiaolongxia is usually cooked Sichuan style (very spicy) and served by the bucket in shells that glow so red they look almost radioactive.

Add plenty of cheap, local beer. This is messy, fun, cheap, and extremely tasty food.

If you want to know more information about these things, you can contact with China tour operator.

09:01 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)