Shanghai Aquarium

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This post was originally published in 2007
It may contain stale & outdated information. Or it may have grown more awesome with age, like the author.

I like fish very much, and wanted to be able to spend as long as I wanted looking at them. It was for this reason that we left early. Unfortunately this meant that we were traveling during peak time. To get to the nearest subway station, one can either walk for a couple of hours or take a bus. Yvonne's parent's housing compound has its own bus, which has two stops: the compound, and the subway station. This is good because it means that it is never as full as the pubic buses, which stop every two minutes and accumulate passengers more quickly than ... a thing that accumulates other things quite quickly. The bus itself is rather low quality though, as the housing compound doesn't make enough from it to keep it in good shape. The subway station was flooded with people who were all wearing one of three sets of clothes: dress jacket, black pants, black shoes; coloured "sports" jacket, sneakers, jeans; or a suit. This made keeping track of Yvonne simple, as she was the only one wearing pink. I don't really mind the crowds so much, as a big crowd provides me with many opportunities to shove people out of my way. People seem to be used to it. Yvonne and I always get on buses quicker than the average commuter, thanks to me either pushing her through the crowd, or elbowing my way along. As can be seen in the photo, people cram themselves into public transport vehicles quite tightly. We transferred from line 1 to line 2, then got off at the wrong stop. One pays when entering the subway station, and then again when leaving, meaning that one could pay 2元 in the morning, ride the subway all day, then pay 2元 at night, if one so desired. We didn't want to do that, but were glad we didn't have to pay extra for a silly mistake. At the correct stop I saw an interesting thing on one of the walls, and took a series of bad photos of it. The Shanghai Aquarium was just across the road from the subway station. I think it cost over 100元 per person, which was quite expensive. No matter, fish are worth any price (so long as that price is less than 150元). The toilets were acceptably clean. The first area was what I would term an "introductory area" that served to remind forgetful customers that they had entered a large aquarium. The first area one was herded into consisted of various small tanks surrounding a large open pool, which housed a number of dogfish. There were some smaller dogfish trapped in what looked like blue plastic washing baskets. Customers were allowed to pet these lucky dogfish, and Yvonne did so. The small tanks housed ... small sharks. A lot of them were boring, small brown dogfish clones, so I didn't photograph those. I took a few photos of the more interesting ones though. The next area had four large displays around the wall, with a cylindrical display in the center of the room. The cylindrical display contained some kind of special fish, and this was the first time it had been displayed publicly in Asia. I can't say if the fish looked like anything special or not, as we weren't allowed any closer than 1.5 meters. If there wasn't a guard hovering around I would have jumped the barrier and had a better look, but there was, so I didn't. We did break the rules later though. The displays along the wall were: sturgeon + some other fish; alligator/crocodile + ducks + some fish; some very large and strange four legged amphibian + fish; some fish (large). The sturgeons looked interesting. Typically, the alligators/crocidiles didn't move. Ducks are lame. The very large amphibians were over one meter in length, but didn't move at all. I would hate to encounter one while swimming, though I don't know if they could cause any damage. The large fish were nice to look at. [caption id="attachment_119" align="alignleft" width="168" caption="Dream Companion"]Dream Companion[/caption]Moving on, into the Amazonian area. The Amazon is home to many species of fresh-water tropical fish. This aquarium had a lot of fish I hadn't seen before, like the massive Aripaima. There were two tanks with this fish, one was a standard, albeit very large, fish tank, the other was a tank with a tunnel running through it. I took a lot of photos in this area, and a video of the tunnel. There were a lot of other tanks, all of which were very attractively laid out. Next area was Australian. This area didn't have many displays compared to the others, probably because Australia is mostly desert. The tunnel was lame, the inhabitants of the tunnel tank were drab. Also there was a model crocodile/alligator, which fooled me for a few minutes, until I realised, Crikey! It's a fake! There were two interesting tanks in the Australian area, one contained a lot of Rainbow fish, the other a Sawfish. Sawfish are great. It looked like it had a hedge-trimmer blade stuck to its face. I took a video of the Sawfish. The Rainbow fish were not worthy of video, as they are available in aquarium stores, unlike Sawfish. Saw(fish) III!. Ouch that one was lame. Just after the Australian area I realised that I could change the ISO on Yvonne's camera. This meant that I could take much sharper photos, so I demanded we return to the start. To return to the start we had to jump the barrier and walk up the escalator that runs through the Australian tunnel. This was the rule-breaking I mentioned earlier. After better photos of the first areas, we moved on to the African segment. This had only one tank, so I didn't bother giving it its own photo category. The tank was nice though, heavily populated with fish. A lot of them were brightly coloured, and I imagine many would be quite tasty. When fried and drizzled with lemon juice, of course. Arctic followed the laughable African area. This had a display containing Penguins, which everyone loves. There was a tank filled with weird crabs, which looked like some kind of crap alien. There was another tunnel here, with Sealions. I took a lot of photos of one of the Sealions, because it was banging its head against the glass. This is standard Sealion behaviour, and is Sealion for: "Oh glorious Mike, thank you for gracing my cesspool with your presence! How may I serve?" "At ease, my greasy minion," I telepathically sent, "I will call for your services when the time is right." Onwards, to the sea. This area held displays for both the sea and the sea shore. One tank housed a large number of Horseshoe crabs, which look odd. I think it is mating season, because I'm quite sure they were mating. One couple had flipped themselves onto their backs, and were flailing their legs in failed attempts to right themselves. Ha ha ha. There were Seahorses in the next tank, and some brightly coloured fish in another. A tank opposite to the brightly coloured fish had a lot of Shark eggs displayed. One could see the developing Sharks wriggling about inside their egg cases. Another tank had Lionfish, which are nice to look at. The highlight of this area though, was the Jellyfish tank. The rear of the tank was painted blue, which gave the impression that one was gazing into an infinite sea. Actually the tank was only about 40 cm deep. For some reason the Jellies were all swimming downwards. The crown jewel of this aquarium is their 155 meter tunnel, which comes last. The tunnel runs through four separate tanks, each of which house different types of fish. I took videos of each. When shooting the video for the Shark tunnel, I thought I had set the camera to video mode, and pressed record. I then proceeded to walk slowly through the tunnel, moving the camera as if I was shooting a video, which I wasn't. I didn't realise that I hadn't been recording until I had walked through that entire section of tunnel, and when I did, I had to go back and do it properly. At the end of the tunnel, there were two Aquarium employees handing out scratch tickets. We scratched out ticket, and saw we had won the "Starfish prize". The other prizes were listed on the back of the ticket, and were all similarly named. I assumed we had one a starfish shaped key ring. We walked to the counter labelled "prize claim", and handed over our ticket. The woman we handed it to started a sales spiel about how we were now eligible for a 50% discount on the gift shop's low quality jewelry. I laughed and said no, and wandered off. That type of thing is very common in China, one has to keep one's guard up, else run out of money fast. After this we had lunch, which tasted good. I ordered the "麻麻辣辣牛肉饭", or "Spicy beef meal." The meal had three chilli symbols beside it on the menu, and was hot enough to warrant them. I had to eat it really fast because it was the type of hot that builds if one is not eating. After I finished I felt funny. Across from us were two Asian looking guys speaking with terrible British accents. It took me a long time to be certain they were speaking English, their accent was so bad. There are some awful English accents. Lunch finished we went and had a quick look in make-up stores. Next entry I'll write about the "Wild Insect Museum."
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