Friday, 21 November 2008


The culprit

I took an overnight train from Si'an to Shanghai, which is a city which had the reputation: "whore of the Orient", Paris of the East". Certainly this may have been true before the war, where quick riches and ill-gotten gains were common, as well as being the domain of drug dealers, gamblers, tycoons and gangsters, all of this became a memory during the years of communism. It is a very recent city, just like Hong Kong, which Britain also opened up, when it started to import opium from the East India Company, to help stem the flow of silver payments, which China demanded from Britain in order to pay for tea and other exports from China. Opium became the biggest commodity in the world and saved Britain from a balance of payments crisis. The rest is history which we do not like to look at.

One of the biggest hongs, emanating from this time, was Jardine Mathieson.

I had another taxi experience on arrival, this time i took a photo of the culprit. Once again he drove a trike. Car taxis were taking the . . . . in their fare demands. So, he was prepared to charge an acceptable fare, but of course i ought to have known there was to be a down side. In order to accomodate me and my luggage i had to sit side saddle! His speciality was riding across zebra crossings and riding against the traffic flow, which made impacts seem more likely at double the speed.

Another thing i wished to see was what might have been a British first. Many years ago a English, at Imperial College, London, Prof. Eric Laithwaite, invented the linear induction motor.
There was a test track built near Peterborough about a mile long. End of project. Next i heard was that the Germans had bought the invention and put money into development ( our new forte is, of course, selling anything for short term gain), and now they have built it here in China as a prestige project from the city to the international airport at Pudong. I rode it in both directions. Traffic that was passed on the road looked as if it was stopped! My first run i did facing backwards! Both runs were at 431kph, max, making it the fastest railway in the world, by far.

I have a love of modern architectural skyscrapers and Shanghai is a place that has more than New York! There is a complete kaleidescope of architectural shapes to be observed both by day and night along the Bund.

1 comment:

raphe said...

it's got to be cold now Dad! Here in Seoul we had Siberian winds suddenly blow in and drop the temperature from autumnal to below freezing in 1 day.