A couple days ago, a guest mentioned she had lived in Shanghai for a year. This got me to thinking about the trip I had taken there five years ago. It was, and so far, has been the only time I have been to China.
It was an amazing trip. 10 photographers from around the world were invited by the Shanghai Municipality, Xinmin Evening News and China Pictorial to document the city and its environments for 10 days.
The project was called | Shanghai Through the Lenses of Photographers from the World 2016
We were divided up into three groups | Team One which the others called Team USA consisted of four American photographers. Team Two were from Japan, South Korea and Russia. Team Three were from France and Italy.
Each day we had a schedule and usually each team was sent on their own to different locations. Here is the schedule for Day 4 and part of Day 5 |
Once we arrived at the location, we were free to go where we wanted and take whatever pictures we wished. We were all provided with translators. My translator, Li Shi Jia, whom I called Leah, was from the Shanghai Call Center. Her English was perfect and she had a great personality and a good sense of adventure. I wrote in recollections written on the plane back to the US, "She became like a daughter to me and I would joke with her as I joked with Nabra (my daughter)."
So I'm thinking that I will go day by day. Posting a photo gallery and some commentary.
Day One | Familiarization
Day One was mostly meeting with officials and organizers, getting to know our entourage and fellow photographers as well as interviews with local media. Interestingly, one of the only places where I came across something visual regarding communism was the Shanghai People's Heroes Memorial Tower with engraved murals.
Day Two | City Life
Our first full day of photographing took us to around town and gave us an idea of what Shanghai was all about. We went to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center which had an amazing 360 degree movie presentation which was like an amusement ride | We flew through the air banking around buildings with the platform actually tilting. Among our other stops was Huaihai Road where I took two of my favorite pix | construction workers under a giant video mural that depicted high fashion models and a girl doing her homework outside her parents shop
Day Three | Chongming Island
Today was the first day that each team had separate agendas. The other two teams were going to water villages and Team USA was going to Chongming Island, the third largest island in China and one of the places where people live the longest. It was a drizzly, overcast day and I was a bit disappointed we were not going to the picturesque water villages. However, it turned out to be an interesting and rewarding day and had some very warm and friendly encounters with farmers, merchants and other rural people. We visited a school where a group of senior citizen women dressed in uniforms performed patriotic communist style songs and dance numbers. Along the way I notice huge leafed plants growing from the water | They looked like water lilies and I asked about them. We stopped and were told that they are lotus plants and that on the other side of the village they were harvesting the roots. Beautiful leaves and huge long roots | some of them a couple feet long. All together is was a wonderful day and we were able to meet and experience the simple, quiet life of a predominately agricultural community,
Day Four | Contrasts
This day was super long and visually fantastic. As with every morning we gathered early for breakfast and then we on the road by 9am. We first went to Yu Gardens | a maze of old and very picturesque gardens with traditional buildings, ponds, shops and even a fashion show. We arrived just as it opened and were confronted with a local entourage of media waiting to cover our visit. Nick Ut was the celebrity they were particularly interested | being the famous Pulitzer prize photographer of the Napalm Girl photo taken in Vietnam. However, because I was wearing my signature frumpy cowboy hat, I also attracted some media attention. It was new being on the other end of the camera and it was interesting to see how patient and charming Nick was with all the attention.
Pudong Expo Park was a giant multilevel mall complex that was almost deserted. It was full of strange things | an Eiffel Tower made of fruit | golfing figures outside a gold themed restaurant | huge hedges shaped into spooky figures | a wall menu 20 feet high | black swans | a giant aquarium with manta rays. I was on my own this time and wandered down to the river and over to the flying saucer shaped Mercedes Benz Arena where I came across a group of black t-shirt uniformed people who turned out to be professional wrestlers who were checking out the venue where they were to give an exhibition match. For some reason, one of the wrestlers was getting a shoulder massage.
We regrouped and headed to the Lujiazui Area Financial Trade Zone where the huge skyscrapers are located along a large bend in the river. There was another immersive IMAX-type 180 degree movie experience on a moving circular walkway on the lower level of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Afterwards, we visited the glass bottom observation deck where people were posing for photos surrounded by brightly colored buildings.
As with everyday we were treated to a scrumptious dinner at the elegant rotating restaurant.
My ending remarks from my recollections that day, "One helluva day...super long, visually stunning, experience rewarding and just great. One to be remembered."
Day Five | "Amazing Shanghai"
Today we were set to photograph the impressive skyline of Shanghai Pudong. Up at 3:30am we made our way to the top of the Meridien Hotel to await the sunrise. I was not optimistic that it would be a good day for sunrise images as everyday since we had arrived had been overcast, cloudy and sometimes rainy. Though the sky was cloud covered, it opened up a bit just as the sun was rising to make some dramatic skyline pictures. It was captivating to watch the city wake up from the night to morning.
We then took an early morning walk along The Bund where a misty blue sky gave the city an ethereal feel as joggers, Tai Chi adherents and strollers took advantage of the cool morning to exercise.
We posed for the group photo with our "Amazing Shanghai" t-shirts (see first image) and then rested up before proceeding to the partially completed Shanghai Tower | the second largest building in the world.
What an incredible view from up there. We went to the observation deck in the afternoon and ended up staying four hours until after sunset. It was spectacular looking out over the city of 27 million people | one of the largest in the world.
Day Six | "Better City, Better Life"
Hodge-podge day visiting Zhangyuan Garden | Jingan Temple | Jingang Sculpture Park | Shanghai Jiao Tong University | Xuhui Riverside Avenue | Tianzifang
Really got a feel for the pace and life style of the city
Day Seven | Culture | Art | Souvenirs
Mengqingyuan Green Theme Park | M50 Creative Industry Center | Duolon Road
We first went to a park where they had fog making machines which created ground hugging clouds | beautiful and mysterious. It was relatively chill day both weather-wise and photography-wise.
I came across a souvenir store in the old colonial section of town and ended up buying some communist souvenirs, an abacus and a Chinese-made camera called Seagull. I read that it might be the most manufactured camera of all time. That evening I went in search of some film to put through the camera, but after checking out many places with the assistance of people I met in the Nanjing shopping area, I came up empty handed.
Day Eight | Free Day
This was our free day and most of us including myself decided on doing some shopping. I started out in the markets around Yu Garden and ended up buying gifts for my family including a paper cutout depiction of my wife and I with the words "Double Happiness" written on it.
It was also Eid al Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice) and I thought I'd try and find a mosque to pray at. The first mosque and one of the oldest in the city was under renovation. I was pressed for time as we had a meet up to visit the art museum and so I rushed up to the Xiaotaoyuan Mosque sweating like crazy. Other than a Moroccan guy, I was the only one there. I wished him "Eid Mubarak" and hopped a cab to the museum arriving just in time to join the others for lunch.
However, as I was rushing to the mosque the sun briefly appeared and I was able to make a picture showing the old traditional Chinese architecture of the Yu Garden area with the immense Shanghai Tower looming up in the background.
Day Nine | Technology City
The only thing scheduled on the itinerary was the Pudong Science and Technology Innovation Industry Park | I have visited these industrial park in many places and they generally are not very interesting to photograph and usually involves lots of time with guides telling you statistics and all sorts of technical stuff.
However, after viewing a model of what I thought was a particle accelerator | a circular machine that splits atoms | they actually took us to what was called the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility | super hi tech and I was a bit surprised they took us there and allowed us to wander around and take photos.
We ate at box lunches | quite good | at a cafeteria with the workers | saw Chinese bureaucracy in action at some government office | visited an IT center | Shanghai's Silicon Valley
It was a short day as that evening we were going to make presentations of the work we had done and celebrate our documentation of the Shanghai Municipality.
and some Panoramas |
Friends and people I met |
I usually don't take food photos or post them online but the meals we had every day were absolutely exquisite and the best food I have every eaten. Nothing like the Chinese food we know in the US. Every lunch and most dinners we dined like kings. Sometimes there were 30 or 40 dishes presented. Absolutely incredible
The visit to Shanghai at the invitation of the Shanghai Municipality, Xinmin Evening News and China Pictorial was amazing and one of the best experiences of my life.
There were too many wonderful and nice people I met and that helped me on the trip | Fay Qian | Wu Xiaoyan | Zhang Jinwen | Feng Huilong | Chen Qi Wei | Ji Ying | Wei Wei | Qin Ya Ping | Wang Lei | Zheng Xian Zhang | Zhang Long | Guo Xinyang | Li Zirong | Shen Yuyi | Gu Wenjia | Li Shi Jia |Bao Wenhui | Gao Mo | Shen Zhenyu | Qin Zhiyuan