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Full Circle

Day 60: Shanghai

Shanghai, China 
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The Bund, Shanghai's old waterfront, with new visitor-friendly esplanade.
Michael Palin - Full CircleWalking through the grounds of the Exhibition Centre, I see that the door to the Exhibition of Yangtze River Area in Rapid Development is open. As I enter a couple of uniformed officials step forward threateningly. I mime, a little testily, looking, learning, walking around, etcetera. They shake their heads uncomprehendingly. This makes me more testy and even more determined to see anything to do with the Yangtze Area in Rapid Development.

Glances are exchanged and eventually my persistence is rewarded. I am directed to a ticket booth. Proffer a 50 yuan note and am given a ticket and 45 yuan change. I walk on into the darkened interior, muttering bitterly about Chinese bureaucracy. After a walk down a long, unpromising passageway I emerge onto a dance floor. Hundreds of pairs of eyes turn towards me from a sea of densely-packed, smoky tables. A small band is waiting to strike up. The conductor turns and looks in my direction.

Back at the hotel, Basil examines the Chinese writing on my admission ticket. It reads 'Friendship Dance Hall. Tea Dance.'
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 60
  • Country/sea: China
  • Place: Shanghai
  • Book page no: 88

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