Tag Archives: Postal Museum

Guest post – I’m ready to move to China* – Part 3

21 Jan

*except for that whole “speaking Mandarin” thing

I am pleased to announce that I’m starting the year off with something new on the blog.  My good friend and cousin, Matt came to visit me mid-October and before he left I gave him the idea of doing a guest post.  This is the final segment of the three.  To read segments one and two with his observations, click here.

Greetings all for a third time! We’re rounding the bend for the final lap here, people. Can it be that I’ve finally run out of things to say? That can’t be true: this is the Internet, where people never run of things to say, no matter how stacked the empirical evidence is to the contrary.  Here now is my final set of observations from my visit to China:

  • Friday afternoon is a bad time to visit a popular museum. This should be obvious, but I still got to find out first-hand at the Shanghai Museum. Lots of foreign tourists and well as Chinese tourists. (Just count the group guides with their flags!) And everyone was taking pictures of everything. I know that’s hardly a revelation, but seriously, how many photos of ancient Chinese bronzeware (or celadon vases) does someone need to really capture the essence of the exhibit? Camera use ranged from smart phones to “professional photographer”-quality cameras. My 5-year-old Sony digital was somewhere in between. Yeah, I took pictures too, but few and far between.  …I’ll get off that high horse now.
  • The Saturday before I left became “Inadvertent Movie-Watching Day.” In the morning I went to the Shanghai History Museum, where I spent about 45 minutes watching a film in the entrance hall. And that wasn’t even the whole running time! This film primarily covered the life of turn-of-the-century gangster Du Yuesheng from his early days through the civil war between the Nationalists and Communists through World War II. But the movie inexplicably broke away to also tell the stories of two famous Chinese actresses (Zhou Xuan and Li Xianglan). I felt that movie (which had English subtitles!!) gave me a fantastic look at the history of Shanghai through the first half of the 20th century. I recommend watching it (I don’t know the title), but maybe not while standing in the Shanghai History Museum foyer for an hour.
  • “Inadvertent Movie-Watching Day” was more than one movie! That afternoon at the Postal Museum (My hostess has covered that too well for me to add anything) I found myself watching another movie. This time it was “Romance in Philately” playing on a small TV (with English subtitles) in the 1980’s timeline area. At first I thought it was a simply a short promo for the Chinese Post Office: after flirting with the cute postal carrier, the hero visits multiple friends who by sheer coincidence all have elaborate stamp collections! It’s as if stamps are the coolest things ever in this movie world. But then the movie plot actually deepened: the cute carrier called the hero’s bluff (he tried to pass off his borrowed friends’ stamps as his own collection) and he had to regroup to win her heart. I admit, had I not been at the museum with my friend, I would have stood there and watched that entire movie too. (We ended up watching about 15-20 minutes worth.)
Movie details

Movie details

  • Everybody knows that the Bund-side of the Huangpu River is the best place for panoramic photos, but Suzhou Creek is a hidden jewel that can hold its own, skyline-wise.

Reflections on Shanghai 2 Reflections on Shanghai 7

  • Greta tried explaining to me about the two degrees of spiciness in Chinese food: I’ll paraphrase them as “heat” and “numb.” I couldn’t wrap my head around “numb” until we went out for Sichuan-style food the day before I left for home. (She covered this on her post of her favorite Sichuan restaurant in November.  To see it, click here.) One entrée was some spicy ribs that ended up perfectly encapsulating the “numb” concept: there’s not really any heat-based pain, just a weird buzz on your lips, like you’ve been trying to play the trombone or some other brass instrument. I can’t think of any dish States-side that replicates that feeling, so chalk one up for new experiences in China!
Not during the run to the airport, but to give you a sense of the number of people around

Not during the run to the airport, but to give you a sense of the number of people around

  • I’m notoriously famous for my last minute rushing regarding travel. (In fact, I barely made my initial flight to Shanghai from Chicago! I had to carry-on my large “camping” backpack…) So the Monday morning of my departure I resolved to break the trend. Alas, Fate had other plans. What should have been an easy transfer from Line 9 to Line 2 (and then to the Maglev) became unworkable thanks to crowds for the Line 2 transfer at Century Ave. so dense they came up the stairs from the lower platform! Is that normal at 9:30am? Was there an accident or a delay in the service? I didn’t know and didn’t care to find out. Summoning all the accumulated subway skills of the past week, I transferred to Line 6 instead. I took that to Line 7, and Line 7 to Longyang Rd. and the Maglev. And once again I was hustling for my flight, but at least this time I made it in time to check my bag!
  • At the airport I had 58.5 RMB left in my pocket. So I bought a decorative table mat for 58 RMB from a store next to the security check entrance. No monetary exchange for THIS traveler!

Matt and Greta - Pudong Skyline 1

And that’s it! Thanks for reading all about my Chinese experiences. Thank you both for letting me visit you and Li, and for letting me repeatedly take control of your blog. And best of all, I succeeded in not mentioning my favorite football team, the Chicago Bears, anywhere in these blog posts! No, wait… Aw fiddlesticks!


Thank you Matt for your posts and fresh view of visiting Shanghai!  If there are any questions for Matt, feel free to leave them in the comments – either he or I will do our best to give you an answer.  Looking at the photos of the Bund and blue skies remind me why I like living in Shanghai so much.  Anyone else want to come visit?

The Shanghai Postal Museum – finally!

31 Oct

I had tried to go to the Shanghai postal museum last year only to find out it was closed.  Recently I had a friend in town and so when he asked for things to do, the museum came to my mind again.

After a little bit of confusion – the museum is only open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays – we headed out on a Saturday afternoon to see what was up.

Approaching the museum

Approaching the museum

This time the museum was open – at least the second floor, but the first floor was closed.  That was fine – it was an improvement from before when I couldn’t get in at all.

Posing by the mural at the entrance

Posing by the mural at the entrance

I was pretty impressed.  The museum was very informative and almost all bilingual.  The main exhibit was the history of the postal service in Shanghai which in some form is less than 150 years old.  Prior to the standardization of the service in the 1940s/1950s there were a lot of private delivery companies and no standard service.

The father of the Shanghai postal system - Zhu Xuefan

The father of the Shanghai postal system – Zhu Xuefan

One of the first post boxes in Shanghai - really beautiful.  Note that it is in English because of the concession system going on at the time.  Also - the dragon - pretty special.

One of the first post boxes in Shanghai – really beautiful. Note that it is in English because of the concession system going on at the time. Also – the dragon – pretty special.

Because the post office is now a state owned enterprise in China, there were a lot of things that made me smile.  They had done a propaganda movie and were showing it – sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s about the valor and strength of post office workers.  There was also a postal song – which you could listen to over headphones.

The post office song

The post office song

And me listening to it - not Mozart, but pretty good

And me listening to it – not Mozart, but pretty good

In addition to the specific history there was also a collection of post boxes from around the world and of course lots and lots of stamps.  I also noticed a pretty decent children’s exhibit that explained what the post office did.

Any guesses on which countries?

Any guesses on which countries?

A few of the many stamps on display

A few of the many stamps on display

After going through, the only regret was that the third floor roof garden wasn’t open.  I had heard that there were beautiful views from there of Lujiazui.  Talking to the security guard he said that it has been closed since the Expo finished (back in 2010) because they believe it is too dangerous for visitors.  Makes me a little suspicious, but couldn’t do anything about it at the time.

Lujiazui - from behind!

Lujiazui – from behind!

The museum finished, we went and took a couple of shots looking back at Lujiazui from the edge of Suzhou Creek.  I am glad that I finally made it to the museum and would recommend it.

Happy Halloween to you all!  It was six years ago today that I got on the airplane for my first trip to China.  I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone and how much has happened in the last six years.  Keep reading and commenting and I’ll find the time to keep blogging!  Your support keeps me going.

Exploring – The Shanghai Postal Museum – almost

13 Nov

A few months ago I read an article on Shanghai’s top 10 museums.  I had already been to over half of them, but there were still a few on the list that I hadn’t heard of or had the chance to explore yet.  On a recent wet Saturday afternoon I decided to cross one off my list – the Shanghai Postal Museum.

The reason why I chose that museum was two-fold.  When I first moved to China the International Channel Shanghai (ICS) sponsored a show called Shanghai Rush that was an Amazing Race type show.  I remember seeing one of the very first episodes where the contestants had to race to the top of the post office museum during one of the challenges.  The open space and grand building has stayed with me over the last several years.

The second reason I chose that museum was because it was the closest and I could take the subway right there.  I didn’t feel like going out to Jiading or Minhang – though I’m sure I will go eventually.

The museum is just on the north side of Suzhou Creek close to the Tiantong subway station on Line 10.  I didn’t think I had ever been in that area before but when I came out of the subway station I was completely surprised.  That area was Qipu Lu – one of the very first places that I went to when I arrived in Shanghai.  It is a huge set of buildings all full of stalls with different types of clothing of dubious origin as well as bags and glasses and scarves all surrounded by different snack stalls where you can find whatever delights you’d like.

The stores were swarming with young people looking for the perfect bargain, but that wasn’t my mission (and I know that the sizes in those places make me feel like a football player)  so I made my way outside and started looking for the museum.

I walked along the creek and eventually saw it – a large building with beautiful columns in the Greek style.  But, when I got there – there was a sign on the front saying that the exhibit halls would be closed to the public at least through the end of November!  That is one risk of reading magazines a couple of months after publication.

First view of the museum (before I knew it was closed)

Tower at the corner of the Postal Museum

A kind security guard told me that I could still go in and look at the working part of the post office which was on the second floor – a huge open space with many people busily posting packages and purchasing stamps.  At one end of the space was a beautiful mural demonstrating all of the different ways that a postal carrier could deliver the mail.  I snapped some great shots of the mural, but the museum itself I’ll have to return – to be safe, probably next year.

Your friendly mail carrier

Even the bird has a letter to mail

Mail of the future (on computers)

Where is your friendly neighborhood post box?

A bicycle mailman – along with a camel. I’m not sure what part of China this is – must be the far west.

A mail truck

It was a disappointment for sure, but I have time to go back.  Have you ever tried to go see something only to find out that it was closed?

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