The Expo has clearly lost the battle for my time… As a matter of fact, I guess I’ll have to come back to see Shanghai another time. But I’ll have to come back in some years, say 10, just to see how it changed. I couldn’t help but to spend hours on my seat 17 in the Qi Zhong Tennis Stadium. I had the pleasure to follow Roger Federer’s way through the Final with amazing Matches. Unfortunately he then lost the last game clearly to Andy Murray 6:3 6:2, who played really well that day and Roger Federer had a rather mediocre one. Thus the Final was over pretty quickly and a bit frustrating, but I’m still grateful to have seen other very notable encounters on the court. Ehm, all non-tennis aficionados might skip the next paragraph 🙂
All Matches involving Federer (apart of the Final) were pretty exciting. In the first one against US giant John Isner Federer already showed his class and won within an hour 6:3 6:4. He delighted the audience with a between the legs shot, which is about to become one of his trademark shots. In the third round Andreas Seppi once again had no recipe against the former world No.1 and lost 6:3 6:4. The Quarter Final sounded promising, as it featured yet another clash (the 15th to be exact) between Federer and Robin Söderling, who had a very bad day and lost clearly 6:1 6:1 producing a huge amount of errors. The Semi Final finally saw Federer face the Serb Novak Djokovic. This Match was much closer, at least at the beginning and ended 7:5 6:4 in favor of the Swiss.
Another notable Match was the one confronting Stanislas Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal. The Match was more exciting and close than the result might suggest with a final score of 6:4 6:4. Rafael Nadal struggled in the third round as he faced Jürgen Melzer, who played very well, eventually eliminating the Spaniard after three sets 6:1 3:6 6:3 and bringing about the biggest set up of the tournament. The Austrian in turn failed against one of the surprising players of the Shanghai Masters: Juan Monaco. The thrilling match ended 7:6(8) 5:7 2:6 in favor of the sympathetic Argentinian.
So, what else did I do apart from watching Tennis? Well, not too much, since it didn’t leave me much time to do other stuff. But I went twice to the Expo with an evening ticket. However, the crowds were enormous and for the popular pavilions the queues were endless. As I was not keen to queue for 3 or more hours for each pavilion, I contented myself with the view from the outside for the more spectacular constructions, apart from the Swiss Pavilion where I could walk straight in thanks to my passport. Germany, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Japan and China looked quite amazing to just name a few, and the latter one again seemed to follow the premise: the bigger, the better!
The few that I actually saw were those who had little or no queues of which two stood out. For one it was Oman with a very neat and informative pavilion further nourishing my intentions to travel there (seriously!), but the absolute highlight was the one from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it strikes me every time how the populace is emphasized threefold in the name. The fact that people have a voice there and that they must be living well was underlined by a nice slogan on the wall stating: Paradise for People (!!!). This was further backed up with screens showing wonderful videos with tons of happy people and families (dating from around the 70ies). Interesting was also the vast literature on display in the souvenir shops with selected titles by the best-selling authors Kim Jong Il and specially Kim Il Sung
Apart from the Expo I of course also went around to see at least some parts of the City. So one day I went to wander around the Old Town and the famous Yu Yuan Gardens.
On my last day in Shanghai I visited Pudong across Huang Pu river contrasting the Bund on the other side, which has the older western architecture from the time of the concessions. Unfortunately the sight was rather bad, as most of the time, so I didn’t go to any of the platform high up on the different skyscrapers, since the sight was limited to Pudong and the river from the top through the smog. Everything in the distance and the Panorama disappears in the gray haze. That’s what I noticed from the Park Hyatt café in the 87th floor of the World Finance Center, where I had a Cappuccino and a slice of delicious fig cake and still spent less than the 150 Yuan the visit to the viewing platform would have cost me.
Up there at the Park Hyatt I also came across a sentence which was written on one of the walls. I really like the statement, it goes:
“A man travels the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”
Whatever that means for me 🙂 Let’s see what I find, but first things first. The next day, Tuesday that is, I had my flight from Shanghai towards the Japanese Archipelago. From where I’m writing this post. More details to come.
Sayonara China, Hajimemashite Tokyo!