Not really a custom, but a tip to make it easier to know where you are:
The Pu River divides the city into two parts—Pu Dong (east side) and Pu Xi (west.) East-West streets are named for other cities.
In many restaurants ib China, the invitational sight is... the kitchen.
Usually hidden in western restaurants, the Chinese like to show cookers at work.
The famous dumplings (not so special for my taste) are a good opportunity to show the cooker's skills.
As everywhere in China, it was easy to see in Shanghai people dancing in the streets.
It's amazing to notice that it is mainly middle aged people (women in majority), and most of the dances show a collective formation.
Fading signs of their political education?
Not only eating but drinking is a big part of local lifestyle and even BINGE drinking...wow!
Here they enjoy local white and red wines which are too strong for me, but there are some very pleasant local beers including Tsingtao, Snow and my favourite Steinlager which is also brewed in New Zealand!!
now popular in Shanghai Area, even my tour guide loves it. Oishi is a japanese word but it was used as a brand in the Philippines by Taipan Ben Chan, a second generation Fil-Chinese with roots in Fujian Province. Oishi is the Number one snack brand in the philippines and he then introduced in to China and other asian countries that nowadays it is one of the most popular snacks here in Shanghai and again our tour guide was surpised that her favorite snack originated in the Philippines. Note there are different flavors for the oishi brand here in china and in the philippines, for example the scallop flavored potato chips in not available in the philippines. A small pack of Oishi Snacks here costs 2 RMB while a bigger pack costs 3 RMB. Grab one now!
This represents a unique life experience. At least for me !!!
On my first trip to China I wanted to try some Snake !!. I must confess it was not a easy decision of mine but, as a cultural experience, I wanted to do so.
I was told that Snake is not something that Chinese people do eat regularly at home since it requires a lot of work when prepare it for cooking.
For our dining experience our group chose a fine Chinese restaurant in Shanghai. The Snake was ordered by the size and it seems that about 2 kilos a piece, being not too big and also not too small, is a good sizable specimen.
I learned that those Snakes are grown and fed for the sole purpose of being eaten by humans. Therefore I guess there's a whole industry behind that business. The specimens are then kept alive in cages located at the restaurants until a customer asks for it.
That was our case. A specimen of about 2 kilos was chosen and by our requirement it was then brought alive to our table (as pictured on this tip) since we wanted to check it alive too. After some additional time it was then brought fried cooked and ready to be eaten.
One has to wear a plastic glove in one hand since the sole use of chop sticks makes it impossible to reach the snake's meat.
I found out that snakes contain dozens of small bones. Therefore, would the Snake had been a smaller specimen, it would also have been more difficult to reach the meat between those smaller bones.
It tasted good. I liked it. Maybe because it was fried and cooked with some spices. Somehow it tasted like cooked rabbit the way my mother used to cook for me long ago. As a curiosity, some people I spoke with afterwards told me that snake's flavour reminds them grilled Chicken.
Anyway, overall, it tasted good to me and it is a gastronomic & cultural experience I do not regret.
The Chinese sculptural art can be traced back to the prehistoric stone carving and pottery making.The large numbers of pottery and wooden funeral figurines of human beings and animals of the Warring States period and Qin and Han dynasties(5th century BC-AD 220) exemplified the native Chinese sculptural art.Along with the introduction of Buddhism in the turn of Western and Eastern Han dynasties.Buddhist sculptures and became more expressive and nationalized in Northern Qi and Northern Zhou dynasties(550-581).The Tand sculptures,nouished by the cream both of Indian and native sculptural arts,turned out very distinguished,such as the polychrome glazed pottery figurines which vividly portrayed the social life of the time.The Song statues,mainly of painted clay and wood,were executed more realistically.How ever,Buddhist sculptures lost their vitality in the Yuan,Ming,and Qing dynasties(1279-1911),when traditional Chinese crafts of decorative carving made remarkable achievements.
Pottery emerged in the prehistorically Neolithic period when human beings started to have a settled life and use fire for living.The phenomenon that burnt mud or clay becomes harder enlightened people to make their daily utensils with mud or clay by firing.
Two methods of pottery making;
1-Build up a vessel by winding up a clay cord,
2-Make a vessel with a wheel.
China is large country consisting of 56 ethnic groups of people.Various ethnical civilizations and cultures have assimilated each other and bring forward the splendid Chinese culture.
Costumes of these ethnic peoples,as symbols of their cultures,vary greatly in material,design,color,style and associated ornaments with their different ways of life,modes of production,religious faiths,aesthetic standarts and geographic environments.
Beautiful textiles with woven,printed or embroidere designs and distinctive artifacts such as metal ware,lacquer ware,pottery,mask and carved and knitted works are the reflection of peoples' wisdom in art creation,skills of craftmanship and deep love for live.
Chinese painting,a national fine art of China,is celebrated for its long history and distinctive styles.It emphasizes the execution of lines by brush strokes without and perspective limitation in subject expression,thus initiating a special painting system in the world fine arts.
Chinese seals,as a distinctive form of national art including the ancient seals and literati's seal carving,developed from very ancient time.Originated from the designed mould stamps,bronze seals appeared in an embryonic form in the period of Shang and Zhou dynasties(ca.16th-771 BC).They were first used as an official validation of authority power by high-rank officials and later widely as a signature by private persons due to the changes of social structures.
Since 16th century,the literati of the Ming dynasty combined the art of painting and writing with the art of seal carving,bringing forward the very ingenious and scholarly flavored styles of literati seal carving.
Materials for seals;
Ancient Chinese seals were mainly made of metal,jade,stone,ceramics,bone and ivory.In the Ming dynasty(1368-1644),stone seals became popular,that gave the priority in material to the rise of the literati's seal carving,thus pyrophyllite becoming the main material for seals since then.
China,a country with an abundant deposit of jade,is well known in the world for its special art of jade carving.The tradition of the art started early in the Neolithic period and carving techniques were vey unique and advanced.The beautifully carved jades with their deep implications have plaid some special roles in Chinese politics,economy,culture,ideology,ethics and religion that other kinds of art have never reached.
The Bronze Age in China started in 21st century BC and lasted about 2000 years through Xia,Shang and Zhou dynasties.The Bronzes,as a precious metal ware,were mainly used for ceremonial purposes by the upper class at that time.The variety and quantity of the bronzes that be used in an occassion could be a reflection of the owner's social status and power.It was high technically cast in great varieties of category,sophisticated shapes and beautiful designs,and distributed in the middle and lower reaches both of the Yellow and Changjiang rivers and some remote border areas.The ancient Chinese bronze technology is one of the most important achievements of Chinese civilization.
Classical Chinese furniture developed from ancient times.The change of the habit of kneeling or sitting cross-legged on a platform to sitting with legs pendant on a stool give rise to the furniture of level height.
The Ming furniture is characterized by a simple and elegant structure with fluent lines and appeling proportions.And the Qing furniture in contrast is larger and more imposing with elaborate carving and inlaid decoration.Both types are of great charms in world furniture by their fine materials,special workmanship and high artistic level.
Once chinese reach the age of 30 or 40, they tend to dress conservatively and in dark colors. In the city, people wear jeans, t-shirts and skirts, andmany young people dress provocatively and dye their hair. Don't worry too much about what you wear, but try to aviod looking scruffy. It is acceptable for male and female to wear shorts in hot weather.