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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 48: 11 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysMental and physical energies re-charged after a couple of hours to myself, I take a walk with Basil round the streets at the back of the Bund. My guide book explains that 'visitors who have been to Shanghai before 1949 may find the names on the streets radically altered', and provides generous help to those who might be looking again for Bubbling Well Road (Janjing Road), Avenue Foch West (Yan'An Road), Avenue du Roi Albert (Shaanxi Road) or Robinson Road (Changshou Road).

There are a lot of comic books and magazines available on pavement stands. One has a lurid picture of a man carrying off a woman. Basil translates the title for me: Silver Snake and the Beautiful Woman. There are also a number of literary magazines Foreign Stories, Culture and Life. Girls' faces are used to sell a lot of the mags, but I notice that the features of these alluring girls are never Chinese, always Western.

We eat dumplings and chives at a tiny table with two benches on the pavement. It's most satisfying to sit and watch the world go by. I realise, of course, that I can only do this with someone who speaks the language, and if I were in Shanghai with a tour group I wouldn't be sitting here.

Lots of food on sale at the street side. Confirms my impression that Chinese are the Small Businessmen of the World. Watercress, spring onions, fennel, red and green peppers, turnips, pickled cabbage, cauliflower and dried bean curd in chunks, like sealing wax. Live chickens and fish in small tanks, pigeons, bananas, noodles and, of course, snakes.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 48
  • Date: 11 November
  • Country/sea: China
  • Place: Shanghai
  • Book page no: 168

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