Woke early, stayed inside the hotel on internet. I'm now eight hours behind the US west coast (although a day ahead), and if I wake up early I'm just a little late to the main brunt of their news cycle. Keeps me out of early rush hour traffic too. I've got juice, bananas, dried fruit, yogurt, coffee-in-a-can and tea.
The stretch in front of my hotel is particularly difficult. Sidewalk is narrow, with a high curbside fence to keep pedestrians off the roadway. Trees, lightpoles and other obstructions regularly constrict this. Sometimes it ramps up or down four to six feet; sometimes there are stairs instead. Blind driveways where cars come looming out onto the sidewalk, to see if other cars are approaching on the roadway. But the mopeds, bicycles, and electric bikes zoom along, blasting the horn to tell pedestrians to get out of their way, quick.
The electric bikes may be the worst. They're fast, and their motors make no noise. The gas-powered mopeds and motorocycles make too much noise. If you could average them out it'd be safer.
It's similar to the headlights at night. Some vehicles have super-brights. Other vehicles have underpowered lights, thin yellow beams. Retaining night vision is quite difficult. Lots of cars park or idle on the sidewalk with their headlights on.
I just keep an unhurried, careful pace, usually on the left edge of the sidewalk but sometimes on the right, constantly doing a 360 degree scan, letting others move ahead or through, but strongly asserting my own right of way when necessary. I shift the cane from hand to hand so that it's between me and other foot traffic, and have started using it as a "flying wedge" at chest height and parallel to the ground, to show the stupid that they can't walk through me and gently guide them to the rest of the sidewalk.
I've also been practicing chest pokes or side pokes to bicycle riders who come within six inches from left front, right front, right behind, left behind, or who pass perpendicularly either in front or in back. For moped riders who buzz pedestrians on sidewalks I've been practicing moving into a neck hold, moving to a two-hand grip on the shaft with a sidestep so their neck runs right into the hook of the cane rather than into me and they fall off the cycle. I hope I never have to use it, because my Chinese skills don't extend to "Let me get this straight, you're saying it's okay for him to aim this motorized vehicle at me, but not for him to run into my unmoving cane instead? Are you kidding me or what!?"
Took the subway under the river to Pudong. I've been on the Shanghai subway before, but had forgotten the procedure. You go to an electronic ticket kiosk, click the "English" menu, choose the subway line, choose the station, it tells you how much to pay, you put it in, it spits out a ticket, which you use when entering and which is collected when you get off. I had trouble figuring where I should wave the magnetic card to let me in, and a nice girl helped me. Then I had trouble figuring how to use the ticket card to get out, and another nice girl helped me.
On the way there, and on the way back, no one offered me a seat. In the Beijing subway I had to fight off such offers (I'm still wearing a knee brace, for protection against over-bending, and unless I can stretch my legs it's more comfortable to stand). People were really quick to grab empty seats in Shanghai too. I'm surprised at the difference in tone between the two cities. It's a lot more "me me me" here. I can still manage to get a smile out of many people, but there's an aggressiveness in Shanghai that I didn't feel in Beijing.
Got out at Century Park, five stops in -- first time I've been east of the river here. Big area, expansive, gorgeous. Particularly beautiful weather too. Park was very quiet on a Wednesday afternoon; I took some photos of wide areas of grassland or trees with no one visible. Came up Century Boulevard, the main drag heading northwest to the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. The first few blocks are no-cars -- looks like it was designed as a plaza, lots of different little areas, but all together pretty sterile. Then it got into construction zones, lots of areas where the sidewalk was completely blocked off. No commercial activity; seems like real life is off of Century Blvd, rather than on it.
This area has more of a Silicon Valley type of scale... wider walkways, driving zones, lawns on medians. Their high-tech zone is just a few subway stops further out. Oddly, cars here seemed less aggressive too. Maybe it's the higher areas of congestion that prompt each player to act more strongly, to push into other people more. Makes sense; when lab rats were intentionally overcrowded they started attacking and cannibalizing each other.
It's about three miles from the park to the tower. Towards the end it got very congested with cars, heading towards the tunnel, during rush hour. This was also the time when the crosswalks stopped carrying traffic lights. Dumb, dumb, dumb... really broad streets, and car culture here doesn't respect pedestrians. I had to poke two cabs during one crossing. I was walking in front of them, and they kept on coming, rolling while within cane reach! Next time I hit a street like that I have to persist to stay in the middle of a crowd of other pedestrians, rather than on their edges, even though the pedexers drift in and out and act wonky too.
Finally made it to the riverside area, looking for the Paulaner Brewery. They served some German-style dinner, which was actually my first meal of the day. I got beef stroganoff, which might've been good, but there were four game programmers at a table twenty feet away, and they were loud, and they were dumb. Talking about their Microsoft stock options, how their new boss at Disney had too many ego problems and too many games, talking about their 4x4s, the experienced guy of the group saying how the Chinese he grew up with was southern Chinese and it's different from Mandarin Chinese, the "I programmed in Pascal!" "oh yeah? Well I programmed the Atari!" shtick... they had never been in Shanghai before, and not only were they not attending to their surroundings, they were imposing their old tired baggage on everyone else around them.
After awhile my Arnsperger-like echolalia kicked in, and I started repeating all their verbal tics in a loud voice "AND, UHM", "AND THEN, Y'KNOW", "UHM" "AND, ER", "AND AND, UHM, Y'KNOW". This has happened before when people have forced their way into my ear and I can't escape the fact that they don't actually know what they're doing.
Felt like going over and taking their photo afterwards, just because they ruined the meal and my digestion, but it wouldn't have done any good so I didn't. I just hope they meet a bunch of Shanghai cabbies during work someday.
Lots more obnoxious stuff last night. It's a gorgeous view across the Huangpu, as the classic buildings of The Bund come alive with light. But I noticed that the western shoreline kept shifting its colors... an area of about 300 yards at a time would go from cold blue, to black, to white, to redder tones. This large swath of land shifted up the river as I watched. I couldn't figure it out.
Turns out it was an advertising barge, with absolutely the largest, brightest display I've ever seen in my life. After he hit the top of the river and turned around so the display faced us, I could see video commercials for UPS and other companies on a screen that may have approached a football field in size, and which was brighter than anything else on the other side of the river. If there was ever a time for a high-powered assault rifle, this was it... absolutely the most obnoxious advertising I have ever seen in my life. Shanghai has no hopes of approaching the Hong Kong skyline if they don't revolt against garbage like this. Goodbye UPS, hello FedEx or DHL.
After throwing the dinner into me and escaping the tech buffoons I tried to find something *intentionally* kitschy: The Bund Tourist Tunnel. At least that's what one of the guidebooks called it; others gave it different English names. It's a people-mover under the river with a light show. I had four maps/books with me and none showed or told where to get it. The street mapping and guidance in Shanghai is not quite up to Tokyo standards either. I know it's "near the Riverside Promenade", and "south of the Oriental Pearl Tower", but I couldn't find even a whisper of a street entrance. Ended up taking the regular subway back.
I've been surprised by how off the maps are. I shopped everything I could get my hands on in SF, studied them, and only took the best then buttressed these with whatever I could get in China. But road names are missing, things aren't to scale, places aren't there. Lots of resources are only in one language... hard when the paper map has no Chinese and the roadside map has no English, and the landmarks differ. Still blows me away that the online hotel reservations don't show the Chinese characters, or the pronunciation, or a map. When I become Supreme User Interface Overlord of The Universe I'll put a stop to such nonsense....
Not the best day. I scoped out a little bit of new territory, but only learned that people don't have enough inside them to manage the technology they've got. I've learned that already, and it's a depressing message, and I'd really rather not have it continually pounded into my head. Next I plan to scope out the area where European Jews fled, after the psychosis in Hitler's culture started imprisoning innocent people and when other countries' cultures wouldn't accept people without visas. Shanghai, for all its faults, did help refugee Jews and Russians during their difficult days.