Sunday, July 30, 2006

A whole new cultural experience

Climbing Emeishan, walking the Bund, crossing Hong Kong's bay, walking through the bamboo forest, cool stuff sure, but Pudong's Hooters? Now we are talking some of that culture stuff.
No one goes to Hooters for the wings, but at least one guy has gone there for their wireless. It did not save my life, although a Hooters has saved my life (Jake you really should read this damn blog), but it did finally let me stop walking.
So this is the first time I have really gotten to explore Pudong, and my thoughts are a bit mixed actually. Mind you, this is only towards Lujiazui (the financial district and the "face" of Pudong), but it simply lacks a personality. Its a cool face, I find the buildings at least entertaining (their artistic value, umm, ranges, but they are surely interesting), but the are itself is annoying.
The first problem, its infrastructure is too expansive. Everywhere are eight lane roads. Walking around is painful (literally, my legs are simply rocked right now). To get from one building to another it feels like going from two distant vegas casinos (Jake you best be reading some of this), you know where you are going, you can see it, but it just takes forever. Except you can't take little breaks to throw some bones and order drinks.
I have a lot of problems with Hong Kong, having skyscrapers lining two lane roads seemed idiotic to me until I saw the opposite. Sure Hong Kong is too crowded, but Pudong is freaking lonely! Even when a bunch of people are out, you are distanced from them and its impossible to have any interaction. Those French architects pointed out this line of thought to me and it seems totally true - adequate infrastructure can really destroy the heart of a place. And this place really seems to have no heart.
Most of my day inside was spent in the Grand Hyatt, a place I have wanted to go to for ages. I love going to Hyatt's (they are classy but they stay fashionable and trendy). I also love going to richy places where I don't really belong. In this case I went all around the building (seriously, outside of going room to room I went to every cafe and bar in the entire hotel). I talked to a bunch of staff but was shocked at how boring their stories were.
That said, the architecture inside the Hyatt was what I had heard: really incredible. You can see straight from the 52nd floor to the 87th floor's huge stabilizing ball along an beautifully designed interior. The Hyatt was also just generally well done and although not necessarily that interesting, they were all very nice. I also like that I got to see views and the beautiful architecture for free, rather than paying to go to the observation deck (floor I could reach - 87, observation deck - 88).
Other than the Hyatt I basically lugged from building to building, taking huge amounts of time for each visit. Anywhere that might have wireless I asked. I even found a connection on the street, but never tracked down the source. I did not have it long enough to do anything and then I could not find the origin.
However leaving one various mall I was struck by a Hooters on the horizon and figured it was worth a try. As the rule seems to be, to find wireless, follow the foreigners. And there are a mighty lot of foreigners here, and there is a great wireless connection. Oh and the beautiful Chinese girls in skimpy clothes, but that is beside the point. That and they like to play little thinly veiled games like riding on stools which are shockingly perverse.
Tomorrow will hopefully include visiting Chinesepod (www.chinesepod.com, my main source for Chinese these days), Shanghai's art museum, and seeing my friend Alice for the first time in two years of talking online. For now, I will be walking back up the Bund and surveying the land before probably waking someone up in the awkward dorm that I am in (I am staying in an amazing hotel, but they just converted an old suite into a dorm room by jamming beds into it).

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