Touring in Shanghai a time-travel adventure
My initial purpose in visiting Shanghai for my 29th birthday celebration in late June was to feel like a child again at Disneyland. But now it seems the trip was more of a time-travel adventure than an excursion through a fairyland.
One day was enough for Disneyland, so to fill out the schedule we decided to visit other attractions first. Where should we go? The question was not difficult to answer, as the city itself suggests many options.
The color of red was commonly seen everywhere, from the railway and subway stations to billboards and Red-trip buses, as tourists flocked to see historical sites and relics.
Ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China on July 1, the atmosphere of celebration in the city, the birthplace of the CPC, has been electric. In fact, Disneyland, the city's most popular attraction, has been challenged by the newly founded Memorial of the Site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Tourists, some with gray hair, waited in long lines to enter, despite the heat of the sun.
Shanghai also has a number of old residences of luminaries, such as former premier Zhou Enlai and Sun Yat-sen, the forerunner of China's democratic revolution, and his wife, Soong Ching Ling. Noted writer Lu Xun, whose essays mobilized the masses to fight, is another.
What impressed me most was that despite the crowds, everything was orderly. The attractions provided knowledge and, sometimes, a surprise.
At the residence of former premier Zhou, I noticed a mysterious black car under a window on a screen functioning as a guide at the site. I tapped the car, and it sped away quickly. A sentence appeared: "Premier Zhou was under close surveillance at that time."
The residence was the Shanghai office of the CPC in late 1940s when the CPC and Kuomintang were negotiating to cooperate in the fight against Japanese invaders. Zhou once lived and worked there, meeting political activists and holding news conferences with Chinese and foreign journalists. But what happened in the house was strictly watched by Kuomintang spies.
Touching another suspicious house across from the residence on the screen, an animated spy figure showed up. This sort of feature was repeated a number of time in the interactive presentation. To me, it seemed as if history was speaking from the faded chairs, office tables, beds and locked doors.
The residence of former vice-chair, Soong Ching Ling, on the other hand, impressed me with her taste in choice of furniture, and there was a moving story of her interaction with nanny Li Yan'e. I realized the great woman was not only a political figure but a person of compassion and elegance.
At the Memorial of the Site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China, I saw many tourists of different ages busy writing in guest books, recording their feelings about the Party's history. Some children recorded their thoughts in a mock telephone booth and expressed their hopes for the future.
A lovely female worker invited me to take a photo and shoot a 30-second video. She asked what I wanted to say to the Party. The photo and video can be downloaded from the WeChat account of Knews, a local media outlet that works in cooperation with the hall. In another corner, a life-size robotic guide with artificial intelligence was patient as it answered questions from curious tourists.
Neither of my parents are CPC members, as I am. But they didn't mind visiting the Red attractions. My father liked to discuss history with me, and my mother enjoyed taking a lot of photos. The Red trip, empowered by technology and interaction, helped me understand history better. And we had fun.