The MazReal community bus has at last slid to a halt after its arduous educational tour of the hot pillow joints, opium dens and massage parlors of S.E.Asia. Memories of this exercise are still fairly fresh in the mind so they have to be rapidly recalled because soon they will disappear forever from the addled and befuddled goldfish brains of the members.
We returned via Singapore a few days ago where we managed a quick stopover in Paris to chill out and drink mint tea and smoke hookahs in the El Tangier Moroccan restaurant just off the Champs-Élysées surrounded by the soothing warbling tones of throat musicians from the Atlas Mountains. Safely back in London just in time to join the student riots we will soon be taking that flight to Mazatlán to comment on the new season of art walk tours and any other thing that takes our childish fancy.
Stop One - Shanghai China
|View south over Shanghai and the Huangpu River|
|Smog makes for striking post apocalyptic images over Shanghai.|
What seems like many moons ago we touched down at Pudong International airport in Shanghai and were chauffeured to our first appointment high on the 59th floor of the Park Hyatt hotel in the Jin Mao building just the other side of The Bund on the Huangpu River. These views from the massage parlor confirm the striking views that be seen over the megapolis of Shanghai. Image these images when the mind is enhanced after a few hookahs and the tingling of a post massaged body.
Roaming the streets and underground transport system of that fabulous city we couldn't help to have been overwhelmed by the 'in your face' tone of advertising that has taken off in China. All quite scary in a heightened state of mind and body. The Chinese themselves must be reeling with this onslaught of Western consumerism and this onslaught has been to promote the products with the biggest posters ever seen and blast the poor people senseless with it.
|Kit Kat chocolate is not about taste but giant bland sensuous women who will no doubt spit the offending crispy block out post - photoshoot|
|Adidas is all about screaming, flying, muscular US basketballers. China loves basketball and generally have to import tall men.|
|Gap is smiling women tied up knots lying at the feet of uninterested no doubt gay males ( I have been in the business and know the facts).|
|More sporting goods explode off the posters.|
|Pudong from the Bund across Huangpu River.|
Stop Two - Dongying City Shandong Province North China.
The delights of Shanghai sampled, imbibed, ingested and found to have been immensely satisfying we moved on to view a particularly interesting region on the flatlands of the Yellow River flood plain in the northern province of Shandong. We wanted to sample industrial China and were invited to tour a tire factory outside Zebo City. You may think that a tour of a tire factory is strange to say the least but within that factory is one of the finest cooks of the region who produces local food from an adjacent farm owned and grown by factory workers for the factory workers and served in the workers canteen. There is also the benefit of a fine massage parlor in the communist party styled Huatai Hotel that we decamped to once we hit town.
|The wonderful Huatai Hotel built in a suitable grand scale by the state and featuring marble from top to bottom. Even the vast carpark is marble.|
|The diminutive and not very flamboyant lobby|
|Communist style garden sculptures. Spacey and heroic to say the least.|
|Got an hour? Choose your food for dinner. Every plate had something new in my food vocabulary.|
|The sea food section. Choose your selection aquarium.|
Meanwhile back in the tire factory we were invited to the worker's canteen to sample the lunch offerings.
|A tire factory at lunch time. Next time you change a flat tire by the side of the road, this is where they come from. Looking like dark satanic mills but in fact a very relaxed atmosphere prevailed.|
|The Factory again during lunch break.|
|View of downtown Dongying City from the back view of our limo.|
The meal and tour over we quickly repaired back to the hotel and a tour of the massage parlor and illegal opium den behind the Huatai Hotel. The madam (disguised as a peasant) greeted us and posed for this quick snap as she took us out back to be pummeled and ravished by the staff therein this notorious den also disguised as a simple habitation and owned by the equally notorious Dr. Wang whose shadowy figure made our stay one to remember. What those people did to you is best kept a tight secret.
|Madam Wang poses stiffly keeping up her disguised appearance with great skill.|
|Back at the hotel and glad to be reminded by the elevator carpet that it was in fact Wednesday. We prepared to leave.|
The flatlands of Shandong as the limo whisked us through the ever present twilight industrial smog to our next destination of Chennai formally the Indian city of Madras on the east coast of Tamil Nadu southern India.
Part Two around the corner.