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Impressions of China

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Shanghai - Day Two

Today we went to a Venice thousands of miles east of the Italian one. Our guide called it Water City (the Chinese name for it is Zhujiajiao). It is a village built around a series of canals connected to a river. It's not just a show town. People both live and work here. There are some very old buildings, built very close together and designed in the common Chinese style of whitewashed walls and black tile roofs. It actually has the feel of a real community, which is important since living this close together requires understanding and tolerance. For example, some of the houses still do not have indoor plumbing (we saw chamber pots outside some doors).

After walking around still another Chinese nobleman's private garden (peaceful and elegant all), we went on a sampan ride along the longest canal. In some ways it was reminiscent of a gondola ride in Venice, except there was no singing here.


We then walked
sold food - -
ham hocks cooked in
course also had
"tourist toys."
selling something in
through the market area. The market
everything from live fish and crabs to
brown sugar and soy sauce- - and of
dozens of shops selling the inevitable
Although everyone always seems to be
China, I am always impressed at how
many of the Chinese everywhere are sitting around visiting, playing games, or just talking.

After a lunch which included a lightly fried bean curd that I was surprised I could eat (but I did and maybe even enjoyed it), we went to a silk factory. We've been to several factory demonstrations so far in our trip, but this one was really something. They were making duvets. Instead of the normal goose down, their duvet filling is 100% silk, but silk in a form I'd never seen.

The process started with a woman putting a silk cocoon into water. This let her remove the silkworm from the cocoon. After the worm was out, she did something like unfold the matted silk threads once or twice, a bit like opening up a folded napkin. She then took the unfolded mass of threads (at this point a little mat no more than 3 inches square) and then stretch that silk "mat" over both sides of a wooden half hoop shaped much like the St. Louis Arch. The first loop was about 10 inches high and 7 inches wide and less than an inch thick. The resulting stretched silk looked like a thin upsidedown pouch. Then the worker would take the stretched silk from the first loop and stretch it further, over a second half loop that was about 18 inches high and 14 inches wide. Eight of the first loop's silk "pouches" would be put over the larger loop. After the eight layers dried, four or five women would then stretch that layered filament silk, unbelievably, to a double, queen or king size dimension! At this point, the silk looked like paper thin, white cotton candy. They did this over and over until the desired thickness for the duvet was achieved. This 100% pure silk was then covered in a 100% open mesh cotton cover so the silk wouldn't mat up or unlayer itself. It was a totally amazing process and yes, we now have a duvet made out of unprocessed silk.

The day ended with a trip to the Shanghai Museum. CC toured the museum while I stayed outside and took pictures. The museum was in a park area in one of the city centers. Getting pictures of the city and the museum (at right) was as interesting to me as anything inside the museum.

We finished the evening by having cocktails with two of the couples we'd met on the boat. One couple is headed back to Melbourne tomorrow and the other couple has another day in Shanghai before flying back to London.
     

San Francisco | Beijing 1 | Beijing 2 | Beijing 3 | Beijing 4 | Xian 1 | Xian 2 | Guilin |  Chong-Qing
Yangtze River 1 | Yangtze River 2 | Yangtze River 3 | Shanghai 1 | Shanghai 2 | Shanghai 3
Observations


HOME  |  AUSTRALIA 2003  |  ACROSS AMERICA  |  IMPRESSIONS OF CHINA  |  VIETNAM  |  AFRICA  |  AROUND THE WORLD 2009  |  SOUTH AMERICA 2009  |  LEGENDARY CULTURES 2011
  |  TURKEY AND GREECE  |  CIRCLE THE ARCTIC