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Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Life Aquatic with Princess Nami

This dangerous looking contraption is firing what are known as Xiābǐng 虾饼, a kind of shrimp pastry. The machine is noisy, and you probably wouldn't want to put your hand in there while it's operating, but my daughter assured me that xiabing are pretty tasty. We saw this thing in the snack area on the first floor of the Shàng​hǎi Ocean Aquarium 上海海洋水族馆, located in Shanghai's futuristic-looking Pǔ​dōng 浦东 area, and which Amber and I visited on this cloudy, partly drizzly and cooler-than-usual Saturday. As aquatic zoos go, Shanghai's is smaller than most others I've visited over the years and could probably be safely skipped if you are sans children, but my energetic youngster certainly enjoyed it, especially the several viewing tunnels, and gave it an enthusiastic thumbs-up. Just be sure to eat outside, where the options are more numerous and presumably more delicious.

She who smiles at the sight of sharks is definitely a chip off the old block

The aquarium is organized into nine different thematic zones, such as "Africa", "Cold Water" and "Sea & Shore". The route inside starts with the "China Zone", and displays endangered native aquatic animals such as the Chinese giant salamander and the Chinese alligator.

As the evidence above indicates, the aquarium is popular with families and young couples. This being China, where you have great numbers of people pursuing a finite number of choices or options, a lot of pushing to get in front was the result, but neither Amber nor I minded much. My daughter, in fact, quickly learned to use her agility and small size to her advantage when it came to seizing prime viewing spots.

Descending deeper into the depths...

It wasn't all fish at the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, as the above pictures show. Feeding time for the penguins proved to be very popular with the visitors. In China, that is not necessarily such a good thing. 

Amber was fascinated with the jellyfish tanks. She took several photos, including this one. You can see more examples of her work at her own photo blog, Amber's Photo Journal

More viewing tunnels, including one full of sharks and all connected by the world's slowest "moving sidewalk". 

"Moving" through the shark zone. If you're wondering what Amber is going on about in this clip, let's just say she was taking the concept of a "school of fish" very literally. 

Feeding time was a particularly exciting moment for my daughter. The diver in the fish tank merely opened a bag of food as the fish swam by, though at one point he had to fend off a hungry sea turtle with his feet, much to the (mild) consternation of the onlookers. The (presumably) same diver naturally had to be more cautious in the shark tank, where he held out a pole with skewered fish at the opposite end, letting the sharks and rays bite off what they wanted from a (hopefully) safe distance. 

Amber strikes a pose with "Fluffy", which we bought in the souvenir shop strategically placed (as they always are) immediately outside the aquarium's exit. You can make out the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium in the photo above as the as the triangular-shaped white building to the right of my daughter. The ridiculous Oriental Pearl Tower  东方明珠广播电视塔 we left for another day - preferably one in which the skies would be much clearer than they were this afternoon.

Speaking of things ridiculous, we had the dubious "pleasure" of crossing the Huáng​pǔ River 黄浦江 on Shanghai's ludicrous attempt to cash in on the publicity generated by the giant inflatable rubber duck that garnered so much attention when it floated in Hong Kong's harbor a few months ago. Only Shanghai's version is more disturbing at it appears to resemble a dead duck, the kind you would find on the dinner table at a Chinese banquet, perhaps. It's also cheaply made, as closer inspection revealed that the "artwork" was nothing more than old newspapers plastered on the sides of the ferry and coated with a brown paste of some kind. The local blogosphere has been scathing in its criticism.

Back on the Bund 外滩 at the end of the day

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