Friday, July 23, 2010

Shanghai Circus & Night River Cruise

Short note: I joined Kai Cung and Kawaguchi for a karaoke-cum-birthday-party for Pei Jing last night. We had a great time singing away and shouting like crazy people for almost three hours haha! There were two Malaysians, one of them is a half-banana (that's me, just in case you wonder who lol!), a half Japanese-Thai, and a Taiwanese, and the only song all four of us were able to sing together at the same time was... 

Doraemon's theme song haha!

The day tour was supposedly over after our the dinner, but there were additional optional options for us to watch the Shanghai acrobatics or/and take the night cruise along the Huangpu River, to enjoy the magnificent view of Shanghai's skyline at night. The night was relatively still early, and we thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to join the rest in our group to watch the show and to take the river cruise as well. Besides, it would be a great way to chillax and entertained by the acrobatics show, after our packed day.

I guess the famous Shanghai acrobatics doesn't need any further introduction, as they are renowned all over the world. It integrates the essence of the acrobatics, magic, joy, and circus. In a nutshell,  it shows the highest acrobatics art of China. What's a better than to watch the show performed by the locals in the country where it originated itself, isn't it? The ninety-minute acrobatics show was at 白玉兰杂技剧场 (Bai Yu Lan Theater), or the White Magnolia Theater in downtown Shanghai.

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The entrance to the theater, which was mostly packed with foreign tourists when we arrived.

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The interior of the theater, which could accommodate more than 500 audiences at one time.

The show was performed by the Shanghai Acrobatic Group, which is consisted of Shanghai Magic Troupe and New Shanghai Circus Troupe. This team is dubbed as the most famous acrobatic group in Shanghai, and the first team from China, who performed acrobatics in Broadway Stage of USA. Besides USA, it has toured Japan, Singapore, Spain, and Australia, and so on to make excellent acrobatic performances that had won great reputation at home and abroad.

Photography and video-recording weren't allowed throughout the show, but when you see several Japanese, well-known for abiding to rules very strictly most of the time, taking out their cameras and record the show, it surely will make you feel like doing the same, isn't it? Worst come to worst, we'll just pretend to be innocent and keep our devices if the staffs approach us for recording the show. Photos below are just some parts of the show.

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Plate spinning, which was combined with some acrobatic skills. 

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This performance usually features performers holding several plates in each hand spinning on sticks.

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Walking on the heads of her teammates, while spinning the plates. One minor slip would be fatal to her and her teammates.

It is said that Chinese acrobatic was developed from labor and self-defense skills, and now is among the oldest form of performances with a history of thousands of years.

Most acrobats are trained from six or seven year-old child, as acrobatics require difficult risky skills based on long training. The performers often endure great deal of pains to make a progress in their performances.

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This is one of the most risky and dangerous stunt of the night. A stunt which combines great balance and strength.

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If you think this is amazing, you ain't seen nothing yet.

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He kept adding the number of wooden chairs, and left us wondering how far would he go.

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He stopped at three chairs, and we thought that was impressive enough already.

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He had other ideas, because three chairs to him, is very sap sap water only.

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From feeling impressed by his performances, we started to feel anxious, as the stunt got more and more dangerous.

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His two assistants then added two more chairs, to make it six in total. 

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During the finale, the chairs were arranged in one vertical line, and he supported his whole body on the chairs with just one hand!

Basically, there are nine characteristics about Chinese acrobatics:
  1. They pay attention to the training of legs and waist.
  2. They chase for stabilization in danger, and quiet in movement. It demands smart and correct skills. It shows the ability that  a person keeps balance under movement.
  3. Look for surprise in the normal things. From nothing to  something, it shows the creativity of a man. On the resplendent stage, the acrobat only needs a long gown and a thin cloth. But the long gown  can change to anything, such as flowers, birds, dumplings, and so on.
  4. Soft skills and hard skills supplement each other. The famous performance which can show the skill is "the Juggling with the  Feet".
  5. The super strength and neat tumbling combine perfectly. For example, a performer lies on the platform, and step on more than 10 people. The whole weight that he holds is up to 500 kilograms. It shows his super strength and skill.
  6. Use a lot of daily tools and labor tools. It is full of  atmosphere of daily life. Bowls, plates, ropes, umbrellas, such kind of  things appear in acrobatics.
  7. Combine the ancient industrial arts with body skills. The performance "Plate Spinning" combines Chinese traditional porcelain art with acrobatics.
  8. The Chinese acrobatics have huge adaptability. There are various ways and places to perform acrobatics. On the squares, theaters,  lanes, hotels, etc.
  9. Chinese acrobatics have strict succession tradition. Every skill is succeeded from generation to generation. (source)
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Juggling umbrellas and carpets with their feet.

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This is another one of the many performances that I loved the most. Using just a piece of long cloth, they performed flying acts without using any safety cables. The song choice (美丽的神话 mei li de shen hua) fits the romantic performance very well.

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Globe of Death, a stunt where as many as four performers ride motorcycles inside a mesh sphere simultaneously. One miss and there would be a big mishap. After watching this stunt, I felt my heartbeat increased three times faster than the normal rate.

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All the performers came out simultaneously at the end of the show to mark the end of the acrobatic show, to the loud applause from the audiences.

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I have to say it was a wonderful and magnificent performances by them.

From watching the marvels at the beauty of strength and skills of the acrobats, we headed to the final stop of the day - the night river cruise along Huangpu River, which is the largest river in Shanghai. This river basically divides Shanghai into two regions - the newly developed area - Pudong on the east, and the historic centre of the city - Puxi on the west.  However, some of the locals here mispronounced them as Pudding and Pussy.

The stretch is roughly about five kilometers; so the best way to enjoy the most of the city's night view is by taking a boat cruise, which last for almost an hour. Furthermore, walking along the river bank at night is not recommended as it is known as the spot for pickpockets to prey on the visitors there. Even if you hang your camera strap at your wrists, it is still unsafe as they would use scissors or even worse, knife to cut them off and steal your camera. That is exactly what our tour guide had experienced before.

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A dragon-shaped floating restaurant. I initially thought we would board that boat, but no, we didn't get to do so.

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Off we go, to start our journey along the Huangpu River.

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The most recognisable landmark must be the Oriental Pearl Tower on the left. Yes, the one that has two balls.

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Ohh, wait. There's actually another larger ball down there, on the left (pun unintended).

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July is not the best month to visit Shanghai, as it is during this time the humidity and rainfall is at their peak season. It was drizzling during the river cruise, but I am satisfied with the picture quality taken using just a compact digital camera.

Over the past couple of decades, Pudong has emerged as China's financial and commercial hub. The famous skyline, that includes the symbolic Oriental Pearl Tower, the Jin Mao Building, the Shanghai World Financial Center  and the under-construction Shanghai Tower, is reflective of Shanghai and China's rapid economic development.

On the other side is Puxi, which still remains as Shanghai's cultural, entertainment, residential and commercial centre. Cultural centers such as The Bund, the Shanghai Grand Theatre, and the Shanghai Museum are all located in Puxi.

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The Bund Financial Centre, the one in the centre with spot-light shining towards the sky.

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The Peace Hotel (green steeped building), formerly known as Sassoon House, one of the most famous buildings on the Bund on the left.

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Shanghai also has their own Twin Towers (on the left), but theirs are shorter and bended haha!

The Bund is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai, which houses 52 buildings of various architectural styles such as Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Classical, Beaux-Arts, and Art Deco. It makes Shanghai as one of the city that has the richest collections of Art Deco architectures in the world.

Combining the night view of the both sides of the river - futuristic high-rise buildings on the east that makes it look like Hong Kong's skyline, and historical buildings that gives them the European influence, it is as if one is visiting two countries simultaneously. The night view of this place is too breathtaking, that I have ran out of words to describe them.

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The wind was very strong, that's why I look like orang gila here haha!

Definitely a romantic place for dating couples. It is one of the best place to have your first date, or even when you make a wedding proposal to your loved one.

4 comments:

kae vin said...

The Chinese acrobatics live a very tough life. They were trained since a young age for more than ten of hours a day else they wouldn't be that amazing.

That's something the westerner will never do, coz of human rights!

Extreme Power said...

Nice shots man. Good camera and the person clicking it.

calvin said...

@ kae vin:
asians don't mention about human rights, because acrobatic performances are already viewed as a culture, no?

calvin said...

@ extreme power:
thanks! it was enjoyable watching them performing as well :D