Saturday, September 27, 2014

Crossing the river

Decided the first day of a holiday week when many people leave town might be a time to go to 陆家嘴 Lujiazui, the heart of Shanghai's development in recent decades and home to the emblematic Oriental Pearl Tower. I walked along the Huangpu from the north, past some dancers shooting a scene.
I didn't actually go up the Pearl tower - too many people, and not quite nice enough weather. My destination was the Shanghai History Museum in its base, a warren of recreated scenes from Shanghai's past with over a thousand wax figures and many other kinds of models.

Everyone was taking pictures in these scenes, here a farmer's "fun.
A film showed how people would have kowtowed at the City God Temple.
The "Mixed Court" reminded of concession-era Shanghai's lack of autonomy.
The Great World entertainment palace still stands - might check it out tomorrow!
Somehow self-conscious photographic cutouts enliven a model of the Exchange.
The piece de resistance was an enormous and elaborate model of a giant ta house, complete with Shanghai-style Beijing Opera being performed on a stage and hundreds of unique figurines.

It's all quite charming, but strangely gappy. The narrative ends with models in vitrines of the architecturally eclectic villas and other buildings built during the "semi-colonial" periods...

Was there once a section on the Anti-Japanese War? Or the glorious Communist Revolution? Now you go right into a bazaar of souvenir shops. Like crossing the Huangpu you go directly from the glories of 1930s Shanghai to the era of Reform and Opening, with its splendid skyscrapers.

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