19 June, China – ‘All Over The Place – Asia, part 2’

Yesterday we were up early and caught a flight from Chengdu to Shanghai, China’s biggest city, with a population of over 24 million – that’s more people than the whole of Australia! Our hotel is in the central business district overlooking the railway station. Not a lot going on, but we found a lovely restaurant a few blocks down serving Peking duck, which is my favourite Chinese meal, and the first time I’ve managed to find it here in China. It was lovely.

This morning I was up at 5.15am so we could get out onto the streets before rush hour to start filming our song all about the wonders of Shanghai, in the style of ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’. I was playing the part of ‘Mr Shanghai’, a slightly deranged tour guide. With our two government helpers we torn around the city at breakneck speed filming on a circular bridge with a view of the Shanghai Tower, then the Bund, which is an avenue of large European style colonial buildings beside the river, then the Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar, which are beautiful gardens and buildings from the Ming Dynasty, then finally some streets in the old French ‘Concession’, which was very much like being back in Europe (it’s also the area where the Communist party was founded).

A lot of Shanghai is very Westernised now, so we had lunch in Pizza Express before heading back to our hotel to finish off filming with a few passes of the song in front of a green screen in our cameraman Geraint’s room. I wonder what the other residents walking past in the corridor made of my warbling…

In the evening we made a trip back out to the French concession for dinner at a Thai restaurant and then went to a strange deserted subway station type place, where we walked through empty industrial type corridors before finding a courtyard with a number of bars and places to eat. I think Shanghai is my favourite place in China that I’ve visited, probably because I’m a Londoner and love it when cultures come together. You get the most interesting buildings, people, food and things to do. Places like this city make me feel that across the world people have so much in common, and that our small differences really aren’t worth getting worked up about.

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