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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 47: 10 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysMy room is spacious, but there isn't much to fill the space. The curtains don't quite meet in the middle and the carpet bears some prominent stains.

Down to breakfast, only to find it's being served on the eighth floor. As I climb back into the lift I'm horrified to see one of the uniformed attendants clear his throat vigorously and deposit a gob of spit, quite deliberately, in a rather attractive brass bowl which sits on a pedestal by the lift doors. Later I see someone else doing it and feel foolish that I didn't know such a beautiful object could be a spittoon.

The Peace Hotel is a curious mixture of dark and oppressive English Thirties suburban mixed in with some fine examples of Art Deco, and a spectacular Chinese-style banqueting room with dragons in bas-relief curling round the walls and ceiling. Nobody knows much about Sassoon, the man who built it, except that he was a Jew, possibly from Baghdad, who came to China and made a lot of money out of the opium trade.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 47
  • Date: 10 November
  • Country/sea: China
  • Place: Shanghai
  • Book page no: 160

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