Posts Tagged With: clean

Shanghai

Wasn’t sure what to think about this one before we came. We had run into a number of people who had been to Shanghai or had lived here and they almost all hated it, claiming it to be one of the worst Chinese cities. Granted it is the largest city in China with a population greater than all of Australia. And it is the worlds largest shipping port and therefore has all the banking, finance and infrastructure that goes with that.

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Admittedly it is not very Chinese…there are a few traditional temples but in reality it has been a cosmopolitan trade hub for over a century and has evolved with this. You can find every brand name on the planet here (and their much cheaper namesakes…(ok knockoffs). The main city part is basically a series of shopping malls which can very easily be avoided for those like me who really don’t care.

It is a true mega city and is spectacular. The city is spotlessly clean, the footpaths are unthinkably wide, the roads are huge, the traffic is calm, the metro is cheap and regular, the busses are cheaper and more frequent, the river is a feature and the architecture is different everywhere you look. The whole place is a model of efficiency and a plan beautifully executed.

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Shanghai has a HOHO bus (hop-on, hop-off) to buzz us around to the various sights which we happily used over a 2 day period. Seeing the Oriental Pearl Tower (Dongfang Mingzhu), walking along the Bund (waterfront), Jade Buddha Temple, Jing’An Temple, cruising the Huangpu River in the early evening and checking out the city from the 88th floor of the Jin Mao Tower.

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The key selling point for me was the food…this place is a foodies paradise. Having been a major trade hub for so long, Shanghai has embraced every possible food style and delivers it flawlessly, cheaply and everywhere. The one that has sunk Jill (and would in all honesty put my mother away too) is the custard tart shops…the little yellow bundles of goodness that cap off a Yum Cha meal perfectly. They are everywhere…I mean everywhere…selling the warm tarts for 4 for 12 yuan (less than $2).

Our first meal in town was Japanese…tepanyaki… Perfect…beef, chicken, prawn, mussels, rice, veg, crab soup with drinks… In Australia a minimum $60 a head banquet plus drinks…here $30 the lot. Capped off with some egg tarts $2. Next was Yum Cha lunch the next day $20 (I always over order and it was in the heart of the tourist strip so prices were ramped up) with a dinner of beef, veg + rice, a BBQ plate (duck and suckling pig), prawn balls with chilli…about $26 including beers…capped off with egg tarts $2. Steamed and fried dumplings for brunch $3.20, and dinner was a huge bowl of Asian chilli beef and noodle soup for me and a fried rice/risotto style dish for Jill $7. Oh and some more egg tarts $2.

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Basically we had a different meal each time, had 6 huge meals including beers and dessert over a 3 day period all for under $100…which is less than what the first meal would have cost us back at home. And we ate like pigs…and enjoyed every mouthful. Did I mention the egg tarts.

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Categories: China | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hyderabad

Thank god for Hyderabad…our departing India was lass than auspicious, Kolkata was passable and Bhubaneswar was the worst place on the planet (that we have been to so far). We were seriously reconsidering our next 4-5 weeks finishing off north Eastern India and were thinking of bailing on India entirely.

But along came Hyderabad in the state of and Andhra Pradesh. This is a city that gets it. It is trying. It sees the errors made elsewhere and is actively trying to address them. An intersection has one police officer (rather than 10-15) and he is working (rather than talking or sleeping) as such traffic flows and wrongdoers get punished. The city employs cleaners and provides rubbish bins at semi-regular intervals) and has fines for those who litter. As such the streets are (relatively) clean.

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The waterways have dredges digging out the submerged rubbish of a bygone era. They have nets catching and corralling the new trash additions. The transport department has inspectors pulling over drivers and checking exhaust emissions. All of these things are VERY positive signs of a city that is learning from the mistakes around them. Despite this there is a long way to go but you truly must applaud the intent.

The first day saw us checking-in to a lovely hotel closely followed by Jill’s mandatory exploration expedition. This involved many kilometres of walking (normally around 12-15 but these numbers are in dispute) and exhaustion. This trip was made worst by Jill’s sniffles that delivered to her a blocked nose. Hence the idea of wandering along the lakeside was wonderful to her and saw me literally dry retching at one point (Hyderabad is better but not 100%).

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The next day we hired a driver through the tourist office who took us (in air conditioned comfort) to most of the big sites in town. We hit the Chowmahalla palace, the Laad bazaar, the Golconda fort, Charminar (city gate style thing built in the 1500’s), Mecca Masjid (big mosque), high court, Qutb Shahi tombs, Buddha statue, Hussain Sagar (pond) all in one day. Each one of these were quite wonderful and benefited from the city’s cleanliness policy.

We found many parks that were beautifully clean (only to find that they did not allow people into them). We saw a nice one and tried to enter but were told we had to leave our shoes at the gate (now let’s be serious…I spend my days watching Indians pissing and shitting everywhere and I wear thongs in the shower of my hotel…there is no way I am walking barefoot in an Indian open space). We did not enter but it looked nice.

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Our hotel was full vegetarian and alcohol free. Needless to say for a 3 night stay this proved challenging on both fronts. Jill found the Nilgrisi Kofta and the Haba Bara kebab which she loved and ordered every night along with some butter naan. I mixed it up but essentially a vego restaurant in India did not offer the steak in pepper sauce, washed down by a cold beer, that I was craving. I made do.

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We had to check out at noon on our last day but our train did not leave until 9pm so we found ourselves with time to kill. So we headed to the Nehru zoological park (Zoo). This had little or no write up but was by far the best zoo we have seen with the exception of the Singapore night zoo. The range of animals was good (with all the big ticket items) the pens were spacious, clean and seemed habitat appropriate where needed. You got to be very close to the animals and mostly had unimpeded camera angles. All things considered…excellent.

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Categories: India | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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