mercredi 18 avril 2007

Out of Server

Hi everyone!

So here is a little summary of what I've done these past few days.

On Monday I visited the Shanghai Museum. The place is quite big and thus I spent a lot of time in there. Exhibitions were: Chinese's Bronze Age, Chinese's Ancient Sculpture, Chinese's Ancient Pottery and Porcelain, Chinese's ethnics and traditional culture, Chinese's Currency, Chinese's Painting and Calligraphy and Chinese's Jade Treasures.

The next day - yesterday - I did nothing of much interest since it was raining the whole day.

The sun was back today, so I spent some time in the old town area of Shanghai and then visited the Yuyuan garden. This Ming dynasty's garden was beautiful (look at the photos), but was way too crowded to really enjoy anything.

I then took the Bund tunnel to cross the Hangpu river and I went to the Jinmao tower's last floor, 420 meters above the ground, to have a great overview on the whole city.
Better: I got a real oyster pearl for free (it was included in the admission ticket)... It's not fake since the guy opens the oyster just in front of you...
I suppose these pearls must not worth much but nonetheless, it's great!

At last, the video:

The Internet connection here is not very steady so it's a PITA to upload anything.
I had to try 4 times to manage to upload the video to YouTube...
Well, maybe that's because I'm (running) out of servers?

samedi 14 avril 2007


So I arrived in Shanghai on Thursday by plane.
Despite my fears in Chinese's planes, the flight was really nice. The only trouble I had was that I forgot my Swiss Knife in my handbag and thus had to put it in the trash... I was so sure it was in my luggage...

Shanghai... I don't know how I can put it simply. It's just the most impressive city I've ever seen. I now think that you can't say you've visited China if you didn't go to Shanghai.
It's so different from, say, Beijing.
Of course, there isn't much to see from the "China's history/relics" point of view. It's just that Shanghai is the symbol of what China really is today: the biggest economic player in the world.
Money is everywhere, from the ultra-modern subway system (magnetic cards, flat screens everywhere...) to the 200 feets long wide screens that sails on the Bund river and not omitting young people wearing Versace, Gucci, Chanel, and others everywhere you can look at.
It's as if you were in those futurist science-fiction movies.

I found a Guardian's great article on the subject (Shanghai and modern China), smartly entitled "The great leap forward", and I advise you to read it as it describes very well what I've come to feel while visiting China.

Speaking about my trip now, yesterday I went to the Shanghai equivalent of the "Champs Elysées", namely Nanjing Rd. and then made a little trip on the Bund.

Today I went to the French concessions and because history matters, I visited Sun Yat Sen's former residence. For those lacking culture, he was one of the main Chinese's revolutionists and was the one leading the revolution against the Qing dynasty to establish the Republic of China in 1912.

I finished the day by walking on the other side of the Bund.

Oh by the way, it's just so good to walk in Shanghai's streets while savoring a Starbucks' Banana-Coconut Frappuchino...

No video for the moment, maybe the next time :)

Stay tuned!

mercredi 11 avril 2007

Xi'an's ancient wall

I'm very tired and I don't have much time so I will be quick for today.

Among many other things, I went to see the Xi'an city wall. I walked from the East Gate to the West gate. That makes a grand total of 8 kilometers and 560 meters, by foot... It was worth the troubles...
But now, I'm just exhausted, so... good night!

By the way, I'm leaving to Shanghai tomorrow afternoon and I don't know when I'll be able to get an Internet connection there.

So, see you :)

mardi 10 avril 2007

Days in Xi'an

Well, I haven't been blogging for a while. I'm sorry for that, but I've been quite busy :)

So first, the train journey was fine. I was in the same room as a middle-aged Australian woman (from Perth :), so we talked a little bit about Australia and Perth.
I didn't managed to sleep well in the train, so when I arrived in my Hostel in Xi'an I slept for a few hours...

The hostel in question, Bob's guesthouse, is a great - and clean - Youth Hostel with a very friendly staff. So, if you ever need
a good budget hotel in Xi'an, I highly recommend this one.

The day of my arrival, I made a trip to Xi'an downtown and visited the Bell and Drum tower. There even was a great drum show there!

Here is the video for my first day in Xi'an:

I spent the morning of the next day dealing with my train ticket to Shanghai. And big bad news: there was no ticket available until April 16th. It seems there's some sort of spring festival in Shanghai, so all tickets were sold out...
I really *hate* China's railway system: you can't book tickets long time in advance (most times it's only 4 days before. But, apparently it was 20 days for the Xi'an-Shanghai train...). And you must reside in the right town to buy the train ticket: ie if you're in Beijing, you can't buy tickets for trains leaving from Xi'an...).

So, the only remaining option for me was to take the plane. It's a little more expensive but I've got almost no other choice...
The other thing I could have done was to try to buy a ticket for a city near Shanghai like Nanjing and once there, buy the ticket to Shanghai. But I didn't think about it at the time.

As I wanted to enjoy at least the afternoon of this bad day, I took the bus to visit the terracotta army.

This was somewhat special for me because I wanted to see these warriors for a long time. They were one of the main reasons of why I wanted to come to China in the first place.
And of course, it was completely amazing. They were so well preserved! You could see all the details on them... Each facial expression was different!

Today, I wanted to visit the Xi'an city a little more. So I spent a lot of time in the streets and finally went to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the biggest Buddhist pagoda of the region.

I went next to the Shaanxi museum, one of the most important museum of the whole country that retraces the history of China beginning from the Neolithic era and going through the Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and at last the Qing dynasties.

Here is the video for these two days:

samedi 7 avril 2007

Last day

Today is going to be my last day in Beijing.
I'm leaving this beautiful city this afternoon to go to Xi'an. I'm going by train and it's going to take 12 hours to get there.

Yesterday I went to the Temple of Heaven park and made a little video on the activities Chinese people do when they go to a park.
If someone know what's the name of the ball game they're playing at the end of the video, please tell me!

I don't know when I'll be able to write here again so see you soon (I hope) :)

To my sweet Chloé: I love you and miss you so much.

vendredi 6 avril 2007

Behai Park

Yesterday, I spent the day in two beautiful parks: the Behai park and the Jingshan park.

Both parks are located just behind the forbidden city.
The Behai park is the bigger of the two and seems to be a mini-sized version of the Summer Palace.
To ensure me lots of happiness this year I rang three times the bell present in the Yong'an shrine.

While I was visiting the Behai park I stumbled upon a guy who was doing water calligraphy with a big pencil. The (chinese) audience was watching him draw the characters with attention. Apparently, what the guy was saying was very interesting. They were even laughing at some times, just because the guy had added a dot or a line somewhere...

Water Calligraphy

I was really frustrated not to be able to understand a single word of his speech...

mercredi 4 avril 2007

Summer palace

Today I went to the summer palace. The summer palace is the place where the emperors and empresses went every time they got bored by the life within the Forbidden City.

The summer palace is very similar to the Forbidden city except that it's BIGGER and in the forest... You can see one part of the map here.

I spent the whole day in the palace and...
I don't know how I can put it... it was so beautiful... so huge. When you're in the palace it really seems there's just no end of it. Even far far far away you can see the forest and some temples...

But well, maybe the video will make you understand, even thought it is very far from the real experience:

mardi 3 avril 2007

Forbidden City

So today I went to the Forbidden City. It was amazing... But it's so big!
I stayed there for the whole day and I wasn't able to see everything. So I suppose I have to come back another day :P

Besides, the automatic audioguide is really a good idea. This thing is able to automatically detect where you are and to play the correct audio comment.

Since I woke up too late for the breakfast this morning, I bought delicious Chinese sweets on my way to the Tian'Anmen square.

Yes, sweet heart, maybe I can bring some back for you if I find a shop like this in Shangai :)

The evening I went to see a Beijing Opera. It was just fantastic. The singing part is very special but the acrobatic scene were really amazing. And the costumes... And the make-up... Amazing.
I love how the characters are moving according to the rhythm of the percussions.
I'm really impressed by the actors because the have to master singing, dancing and kung-fu...

As usual, here is a small video:

lundi 2 avril 2007

The Great Wall

So today was the Great Wall Day.

The week-end is the time you don't want to visit anything famous in Beijing because its way too crowded with tourists. But the remaining of the week is the time you don't want to take the Taxi in Beijing...
I didn't thought about it and so spent a good part of the morning into the traffic jam. But in the end it was my lucky day as once I arrived in the Dongzhimen Road Station, I met with 2 great people (Claire and Sven) that also wanted to go to Simatai.
The Simatai site is an alternative to the much touristic areas (thus much crowded) of Badaling and Mutianyu. Simatai is located at 120 kilometers on North-East of Beijing.

So the three of us took a car that drove us directly to Simatai and waited for us to return.
Simatai is really a beautiful site to see the Great Wall, as the Wall here hasn't got many renovations and is therefore very authentic: some parts of it are no longer standing at all.
Unfortunately we didn't go very far because my fellow partners for this trip had a train to take. But well, once you're on the Wall, you have to decide to stop at a point because there's just no end :P

And since a video is better that any words, here it is:

See you!

dimanche 1 avril 2007

A Sunday in Beijing

First: happy 1st April to everyone reading this. According to 晓苑, in China this day is called "愚人节" and it has same signification as for us, western people :P

So today I began with the Panjiayuan Market. I spent the whole morning there and bought some souvenirs for those of you left in Paris :)

Then I went to the White Cloud Temple. Yes, yet another Taoist temple... But I prefer the Toaoists temple to the Buddhists ones.
And in this one there was a little entertainment:

For 10 Yuan you could buy 50 coppers coins and try to hit the bell with those. It was very enjoyable, while visiting the temple, to hear from afar the sound of the coins hitting the bell or the big plate around it. It really adds up to the already relaxing atmosphere of a Taoist temple.

I went next to the Lama temple. This temple is commonly referred as The Buddhist Temple You Absolutely Have to Visit in Beijing as this is temple where the Dalaï Lama goes every time he comes to Beijing. But I think that the most interesting thing about this temple was that the entry ticket is actually a CD Rom.
Beyond that, nothing special. Yet it's a very big and beautiful temple but I didn't feel the same atmosphere I felt when visiting the previous Taoist temples. I think this is mostly due to the fact there were way to many people. This, and that I'm not fond of the Buddhist folklore.

At last, I went behind the Forbidden City and enjoyed a *great* view on both the Jingshan and the Beihai parks.

At last, a little surprise:

PS: 王鑫, I'm really sorry to have forgotten your name on the list. I'm going to correct this right now :)