Sunday, November 25, 2012


I took a quick day trip to Kobe, it's just over a hour away by bullet train, from Nagoya.  I went there without much of a plan, other than to ask the information desk at Kobe station what should I do?
They recommended taking the Nunobiki Ropeway to the summit of Mt. Rokko, the ropeway is just outside the bullet train station, Shin Kobe.  Below is the Nunobuki Dam, you can see it while traveling on the ropeway.  This is the first concrete dam in Japan which made me wonder what previous dams were made of?  Maybe sticks and mud.
At the top of the mountain, I was surprised to find a German Festival, the information lady did not mention this.
Among many German style dishes they had beer and pretzels, which was good enough for me. 
In Japan, German things are referred to as doitsu-things... For example German people are doitsu-jin, German language is doitsu-go and so on.  I was happy to find some doitsu-food.  
It's kind of like a little German town up here, you can see everyone sitting in the town square from the clock tower.
Kobe was on of the first open ports in Japan and as a result many foreign people started living here.  Below is part of Kobe that was set aside for foreign style houses but today is more like a tourist area.  I'm not sure if anyone really lives here anymore.
This is looking down the staircase of Kitanotenman Shrine onto the foreign house neighborhood.  Someone needs to keep cleaning up the autumn leaves.
Good advice.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Street of Eternal Happiness

For the past few months, NPR has been playing a radio series titled the 'Street of Eternal Happiness' on the APM show Marketplace.  The radio show uses this area of Shanghai as a tool to show China's ongoing economic transformation.  The street of eternal happiness is actually Changle Road.
Since I have been listening to the radio show, I thought it would be fun to visit this area on this trip to Shanghai.  You can see above and below, it was kind of a chill day, this is a Sunday afternoon.
 Below are a bunch of kids waiting in line for some bubble tea.
Although the actual Changle Road is just one street, the radio show branches out to include areas around the street of eternal happiness, below is the Jinjiang hotel.  This is the hotel where President Nixon meet with Chairman Mao Zedong and signed the Shanghai Communique.
I also outsourced my haircut to China on this trip.  Below is the shop where I got a haircut, it's not far from where Nixon meet Mao.
Below is Fuxing Park, a good place to stretch.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chinese High Speed Rail

I made a second visit to Shanghai to visit friends and took a day trip to Nanjing using the new Chinese bullet train.
Above is Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, this place is huge and new!!  I showed up here without a ticket but just a plan for a day trip to Nanjing.  In Japan, within 15 minutes of showing up at a train station you will have a ticket and 10 to 30 minutes after that you will be on a train going somewhere.  At this station, it was not so obvious what to do and it took about a hour to get a ticket and about 30 minutes to wait for the train after getting a ticket.  But this is partly the fault of assuming it would be easy to walk up to a window, get a ticket and get on a train.... don't bother trying the automatic ticket machines, it's a waste of time, just get in line and wait.
Above is the platform seen from the top of the escalator.  The train on the left goes to Nanjing and on to Beijing.  Beijing south is a 5-6 hour train ride from Shanghai... Shanghai to Beijing is 1462km, Detroit to Chicago is 455km, transit time by fastest train possible is the same... Assuming the Amtrak train is not delayed for snow or fright.
Above is the CRH-380A train, the first high speed train designed and manufactured in China.  It kind of replicates foreign technology.
If you ask for a window seat on the way to Nanjing and end up getting car 16 seat 4F, this is the window.
Above is the platform at Nanjing, waiting for the train to return to Shanghai.
Above is the platform back at Shanghai, a successful round trip on the Chinese high speed rail.  In total, I think it was 4 hours of touring around Nanjing, 2 hours round trip on a train and 3 hours trying to figure out how to get tickets and waiting for trains.  China needs to address those 3 hours, it should be 30 minutes at most.