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上海游記 Nov. 28 – Dec. 6, 2009 Day 10, Shanghai January 28, 2010

Posted by hslu in China, Chinese, Life, Death and Yuanfen, Shanghai.
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上海游記 Nov. 28 – Dec. 6, 2009

Day 10, Shanghai, Sunday, December 6, 2009

Today we said goodbye to Shanghai. I got up early and found out it was such a beautiful day: no smog, partly cloudy sky and gorgeous sun rise made me wanted to stay another day or two. Well, it was time to go and Taipei was waiting for us. Let’s move quickly because I had to pack first and get Xiaobao out of his bed soon. We have almost an hour’s taxi ride to Shanghai’s Pudong Airport.

On the day of our departure from a city full of history and culture, I couldn’t help but think of two songs about Shanghai: 葉麗儀的上海灘 “ye4 li4 yi2 de1 shang4 hai3 tan1” and 羅時豐的茫茫到深更 ”luo2 shi2 feng1 de1 mang2 mang2 dao4 shen1 geng1.”

上海灘 is the theme song of a Cantonese TV drama series and movies of the same name. It first aired in Hong Kong in March, 1980. The story took place in Shanghai in 1930 a few years before the war broke out with Japan. At that time, Shanghai was a glamorous city with money, beautiful women, foreign goods, power, gangsters and drugs. The lead character, 許文強, played by Chow Yun-Fat 周潤發 “zhou1 ren4 fa1,” was a college student who came to Shanghai. He soon became a gangster working for the mob boss, Mr. Feng, the most powerful man in Shanghai. His love story with several beautiful girls, including Mr. Feng’s daughter, also made this movie memorable. His struggle for power and fight for survival illustrated the dangerous life as a member of the triad. After Mr. Feng helped him became a powerful man in Shanghai, he turned against Mr. Feng because he found out Feng was helping Japanese smuggling drugs into China. For that, the Japanese sent an assassin to kill him. However he was saved by his first love from his home town, Mr. Feng’s mistress, who took a bullet for him. Later about the time when he was about to marry Feng’s daughter, more assassins were sent to kill him. After Feng’s daughter chose to leave him for his own protection, he left Shanghai and fled to Hong Kong where he married another girl and started a new life. Eventually, Feng found this out and sent assassins to kill him and his family. His family died and he escaped. He then returned to Shanghai to seek revenge.

This TV drama series propelled 周潤發 into the lime light and made the theme song 上海灘 one of the most popular songs in Hong Kong. I do not know how to sing it in Cantonese but I like it very much especially the version by 葉麗儀 “ye4 li4 yi2”, Frances Yip. Her voice was powerful; her lyrics were clear and her pronunciation concise. She sings with feeling and heart. The song also made Shanghai’s thrilling life in the 1930’s very fascinating.

This version by葉麗儀 was accompanied by a Chinese instrument orchestra. However, it doesn’t have the mandarin lyric. Try the following to get the Mandarin lyric.

Here is my take of the Cantonese lyrics:

long2 ban1 long2 lao2

man2 lei2 tao2 tao2 gong1 shui2 yun1 bu1 yao2

tou1 jian1 liu1 sai2 gan1 si2

wan1 zang1 tou1 tou1 ya1 pian2 qiu1 lao2

si1 hei1 si1 sau2 long2 lei2 fan1 ba1 qing1 feng1 xiu2 bei1 yao2

seng1 gong1 sa1 bai2 long2 lei2 hong1 ba1 chu1 you1 mei1 you1

mai1 nei1 han1 nei1 man1 guan1 wan zi1 fou2

chi1 dai2 gang1 ya1 fa1 ba1 sou1

zhuan2 qian1 wan1 zhuan2 qian1 tan2

yi1 mei2 ping1 fu1 ci2 zhong1 zan1 dou4

yao1 yao1 hei1 yao1 yao1 sao1

zao1 xun2 fan1 ba1 qu1 fong1 shui1 bei1 yao1

ying1 yun1 fan2 ba1 qiin1 long1

zai2 wo1 san1 zhong1 hei1 fu2 gao1

Check the following link to get more info and the Cantonese version of the lyric.


茫茫到深更 is a Taiwanese song about a man who saw his ex-lover on a raining and windy day. Without her knowing his presence, he turned around, picked up his pace, walked away and was afraid to call out her name. He couldn’t face her because he left her without saying goodbye or telling her why. The karaoke I saw on a VCD I bought uses the stunning night scene of The Bund as the background video. When Bao and I were wandering along the 滨江大道, we saw the same panoramic view across the Huangpu River. It had such an impact on me that I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I could almost image them passing each other on the same 滨江大道 and felt sorry for the girl who had to face the anguish and pain by herself as described by the song:

情夢茫茫到深更 “qing1 meng4 mang1 mang1 dou4 shen4 geng1”

醒來一切是過去 “xing3 lai2 yi1 qie4 shi4 guo4 qv4”

想看覓愛我有啥意義 “xiang3 kang4 mai1 ai4 wo3 wu3 xia4 yi4 yi1”

No matter how unwilling I was, I had to leave this city for now. I remember the first time I came here in 1986, the Shanghai I saw from the airplane was dark. There was no red, green or yellow color in the city because it was dull and shabby with nothing but grey, blue and black. In any government-run businesses, I had to wait to get any service at all. There were few smiles on people’s face and we got charged 4, 5 or even 10 times of what ordinary Shanghainese would pay. There were thousands of bicycles and very few cars. Capitalism was still in its infancy and I barely saw a few businesses under big warehouse like markets. To buy food from a restaurant, I had to use rice stamps and cooking oil stamps in addition to RMB. As I looked around the city, the sky line was filled with old houses and small buildings. There were very few tall buildings and most of them concentrated along the Huangpu River and The Bund. Pudong was not developed and the ride into the city from Pudong Airport was bumpy and time consuming. As I ate my first meal in a restaurant at Shanghai’s城隍廟, several people stood next to my table in order to get my seat after I finished my meal. Many things I saw for the first time and places I went for the first time, I read them in history books or saw them in movies when I was a kid in Taiwan. That experience had such an impact to me, I could never forget.

Since then, I went back to Shanghai a few times and the city has certainly regained its previous glory. The Bund was as glamorous as before. 新天地, 淮海路, 陸家嘴 and 金茂大厦 are the pinnacle of recent developments in this city. Subways, wide streets, elevated highways, high-rise apartment buildings and glitter commercial buildings are every where. Cars, cars and everywhere you go, there were cars. Everything is so much different and I couldn’t see any sign of the shoddy city I saw in 1986.

How things changed so fast and so dramatic, proving again the Chinese saying we know so well: 三十年河東三十年河西.

Goodbye, Shanghai. For now!



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