Friday, July 23, 2010

Jinke Road Metro Stop, Shanghai

So for some reason that I am sure will remain a mystery, we stayed pretty far outside the center of Shanghai, on the new Metro line number 2. The apartment/condo building was basically in the middle of nowhere - just an endless landscape of mid-rise housing buildings, sprinkled with tech company offices. I think the Chinese planned this pretty carefully to keep the subways full in both directions for most of the day, with people leaving for the jobs from the apartments, and others coming to the various international companies sprinkled in the area (SAP was one office that was visible from the road).

Our metro stop was Jinke Road - and as you can see below in the image from Google, the metro station (upper right hand corner) was still under construction when this image was taken - that is how new everything is in this part of China.

Friday, July 16, 2010

National Art Center, Tokyo

Now that I am back from my trip, one of the things I want to do is list individually both the things I thought were worth seeing, and any travel tips I may have picked up. This is the first post in that vein, about a place I happened to find from a Subway poster, the National Art Center, Tokyo.

I thought I was going to see the Man Ray exhibit (see poster below), but what was actually there was a traveling show from one of my favorite museums in the world, the Musée d’Orsay. It was a tremendous exhibit that left me absolutely floored.

This is from their website:
"The National Art Center, Tokyo is a unique and innovative art exhibition facility: Instead of maintaining a permanent collection, it makes the most of a total of 14,000 square meters of exhibition space, one of the largest in Japan, and focuses on serving as a venue for various art exhibitions. The Center also promotes outreach activities through its educational programs, and the Art Library serves to collect and disseminate information related to art.
Located in Tokyo, an international city that attracts people, products, and information from all over Japan as well as the rest of the world, the Center will provide people with opportunities to experience diverse values and contribute to bringing forth a new culture based on the idea of mutual understanding and symbiotic relationship."
So basically the center serves as a rotating exhibit space. But it is also a fantastic architectural space, with several cafes and restaurants, a museum shop, and great public spaces to just sit and relax. It really made me wish that Florence had a place like this - large indoor spaces where the public felt welcome to linger, that also involved great art and a cultural experience.

If you are planning a visit to Tokyo, I would definitely think about adding this to your itinerary. The exhibit calendar, in English, is here.

Monday, July 12, 2010


After about two weeks in Shanghai, I flew to Tokyo. I spent 2 nights there and even though there was a decent amount of rain I had a great time and really was taken with the little bit of the city I got to see. I could imagine visiting Tokyo again, especially exploring more of the museums and temples, and trying more restaurants.

I have plenty more to post about China, and Japan, but I will be rolling that out once I get back home. And I have hundreds of photos too. Here is one:

This is the train crew changing shifts at Tokyo station. A glaring difference between Tokyo and Shanghai is the supreme sense of order and formality that the Japanese have compared to the seemingly permanent chaos of Shanghai. Look at the uniform on the "Captain" of the train - white gloves, suit, hat - every detail is precise. I also have some photos and videos I want to post of construction crews from both Shanghai and Japan - in Shanghai we saw lots of people at work in flip-flops and t-shirts. In Japan, everyone is uniformed, with an amazing amount of gear on, and safety is paramount.  Just some jarring juxtapositions between these places.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jean Georges in Shanghai

3 On The Bund (annoying, small window Flash website) is the address of a building that has been remade as a high end dining, shopping, and gallery space. I saw an Anish Kapoor installation at the Shanghai Gallery of Art (Kapoor seems to follow me wherever I am in the world - this is an artist that gets around), and - yes -  I had lunch at the Jean Georges restaurant (anyone who knows me knows Vongerichten is one of my favorite chefs in the world). I had been eating $2 lunches all week so I figured I could splurge:

This is the cod with snow peas, almonds, almond milk, and chili oil. It was very good. The desert was incredible, and I had a very nice glass of Riesling. The wine by the bottle is outrageously priced - but I got some background on that from the sommelier. More about that in another post.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July

Sunday July 4th:

Got to the museum just in time to boot the computers. Dropped off some more laundry at the Marriott, then to the Starbucks there to spend my 3 free hours of Wifi working. After took the #2 back to East Nanjing Rd. and found the Foreign Language book shop. Wandered around there in the heat just a bit. Most of the East Nanjing Rd. area, from about People's Park to the Bund (the riverfront area) is sort of like a Times Sq. Lots of hawkers trying to rope you in and sell you fake stuff, lots of tourists, Asian and others. Not my style.

Back near the Marriott, I watched the Germany/Argentina match on the TV in McDonalds. Yes, I have discovered the McDonalds where there is AC and you can get a #1 meal for about $2 and change U.S. Trying to conserve money at this point. Almost 4 PM now and I am back in the museum a little earlier than yesterday, when they were giving me a hard time about getting back in. Getting black outside, probably another heavy rain on the way.

After I closed the exhibit I took the #1 to Huaihai Rd. to try to find some shoes. Good luck! I can't find anything close to my size. I did find articles on some expats forums about guys having to get their shoes hand made here! I was only in one mall, so I decided to try to walk to some more stores, and of course by then it was pouring - just torrential rain. Back to the metro to head home, stopped in the tech park (one stop before the apartment) to get some dinner. Had some sort of strange but good potatoe salad and fried chicken (Chinese style).

At home I watched Code 46 - a futuristic film shot mainly in Shanghai. I liked it - not a great movie, but pretty cool and fun to see some of the locations I have been wandering around in the last couple of weeks. Tim Robbin's character stays in the Grand Hyatt in the Jin Mao Tower:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day whatever...

I have totally lost track of time. The install really was a lot of work - we were there practically all day every day for almost a week straight. The weather doesn't make things any easier - I am not so good in hot, and if it isn't 100 degrees here, then it is raining. It rained the first seven days in a row I think, then we had a short break. Today I saw some suspicious clouds when headed down to the subway, and when I came back up from the metro it was torrential with thunder and huge lightning bolts, etc.

At the moment I am sitting in the Marriott again (free WiFi) trying to dry off a bit an pondering changing into some of these clean, dry clothes that I had laundered through the hotel :)

This is the Shanghai World Financial Center - we were next door in the Jin Mao Tower for lunch the other day - I want to go up to the observation deck of this building though:

Shanghai Bloggers

Good article from the NY Times (from Feb. 2010) highlighting Shanghai bloggers:

Published: February 25, 2010
Covering topics ranging from airport transportation to cup cakes and adolescent angst, online posts are filling an information void and opening the daily life of the city to Western eyes.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Day #5 (briefly)

Sunday, the official opening. We are still working full time until 3 PM, when the opening takes place. In between are a couple of trips to a computer mega-mall (Cyber Mart) to buy new video cards (that are then not needed), video adapter cables, fake iPhones, etc. Literally have the last screen running 15 minutes before the opening. Then I notice another bug - the server is running on a demo license and the images are watermarked! We have to open as is and hope it doesn't ruin the experience for too many people. After it is all over we head over to the Bund area and walk around the waterfront awhile before heading to dinner.

This is Paolo R's last day in Shanghai - he leaves from the restaurant for the airport - he was a lot of fun and it was great getting to know him better.

Food Market

We stopped briefly in a small food market near Remnin Road the other day. I got the below photo of a girl asleep in her stall. There were many vendors sleeping as it was just lunch time or a little after. I can only imagine how many hours a day they work. And it was hot - it had to be pushing 95 degrees in there.

This is my favorite photo so far.

More thoughts on Shanghai

Sorry for the sparse posting, the firewall issue is a real problem with Blogger (shame I didn't have the time to move the blog before I left) - the only way to use it is through a VPN, and the one I bought isn't working, so I have to use a free one, and it needs a lot of bandwith, so I have only been able to post from the Marriott which I am not at often.

After a week plus here there are some things that stand out for sure. It is really hard to believe that this is a communist country with a controlled press, and so many other limitations on individual freedoms (like not being able to use Blogger, Facebook, etc.). That being said, we have now met a couple of Chinese who have returned from Canada and the U.S. because this is where the jobs and business opportunities are. That in itself is pretty mind blowing.

This city is just humming with life, and it definitely seems like a "place to be" in the 21st century. There is a song by Radiohead that keeps coming to mind:sh
In a city of the future,
it is difficult to concentrate.
Meet the boss, meet the wife,
everybody's happy,
everyone is made for life.

In a city of the future,
it is difficult to find a space.
I'm too busy to see you,
you're too busy to wait.
That songs is called Palo Alto, but the opening line really screams Shanghai.

That and anything from the Bladerunner soundtrack - the comparison is too easy but it is so fitting.