Lonely Planet Shanghai Updates (February 2010)

The new Shanghai city guide is due out in a few days, which makes it a good time to initiate a “Shanghai Updates” category – if ever there was a guidebook that needed an online updates page somewhere, this would be the one. Feel free to post your own discoveries (good or bad) here. To kick things off, I’ll start with the closures – yes, some listings have already closed before the book was even published, but hey, that’s what this page is for.
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Just Another Shanghai Street Corner

Just another Shanghai street corner
Working on the new metro line 10

Ever wondered about those constructions sites you see everywhere in China? Construction foreman Mr. Shen (age 55) filled me in on what goes on at a typical Shanghai site. The salary figure he gave for average workers – Y2000 per month plus healthcare – is interesting when compared with a 2007 study by Fudan University, which found that migrant workers across China only averaged about Y1200 per month.

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Soundscapes: A Taoist Ceremony in Shanghai

Qinciyang Temple, Pudong
Qinciyang Temple, Pudong

Shanghai, and in particular, Pudong, was the last place I expected to chance upon a traditional Taoist ceremony. But there you go, even China’s financial center is sitting on top of some leftover animist beliefs.

This recording is of a birthday party for the god Dongyue, who presides over Mount Tai (Tai Shan), China’s supreme sacred mountain. So how do Shanghainese Taoists celebrate birthdays? With plenty of liquor, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts, plus over twenty-five large bags of specially folded paper money, which was burned for Dong Yue after the ceremony. Pudong is an expensive place to live, after all, even for a god.

[audio:Taoist1.mp3]

Long-Lost Cousin Bi

See the resemblance?
See the resemblance?

I don’t know if it’s because the Chinese tend to be so openly curious about foreigners, but I find myself engaged in at least one unusual conversation per day here. Today, while buying mini-chopsticks for the kids, the store owner decided to examine my notes and then declared to the cashier, “That’s not English. Probably Russian.” And it’s true, my handwriting doesn’t really resemble English.  It doesn’t resemble any language in fact. So I could see how she had come to the conclusion.Of course, I had to correct her, though. After ascertaining I was an English speaker, she then logically asked for my Chinese name.

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