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Maritime museum to weigh anchor

THE spectacular China Maritime Museum ?shaped like a billowing sail and housing a replica of an ancient junk ?opens to all seafarers and landlubbers on Sunday in Nanhui of the Pudong New Area overlooking Hangzhou Bay.

The museum features the history and the routes of famous Chinese navigator, explorer, diplomat and admiral Zheng He (1371-1435), and commemorates his voyages around 600 years ago.

It displays around 420 models of boats and ships, valuable relics, charts, navigation equipment, and artifacts in multimedia, interactive exhibits.

The museum contains an enormous wooden replica of a ship like the ones Zheng sailed to Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Africa and ?some say ?America. The mast is 26.6 meters high. Visitors can walk around it and take photos, but no one goes aboard.

There's a surround-screen theater, a 4-D movie, interactive displays, explanations of celestial navigation, modern maritime achievements and a place where visitors can stand on the bridge and experience sailing a ship for themselves. There's also an auditorium for lectures.

The 500-million-yuan museum (US$73.8 million) covers three floors and 46,434 square meters, and has an outdoor display area. From the outside it appears like an abstract ship with a sail filled with wind, next to a sphere representing the world.

"We hope to provide the perfect place for people to learn about navigation and maritime history and culture,?says An Chenyao, director and Party secretary of the museum.

It not only includes exhibitions but also opportunities for education and academic research.

Exhibits include maps of the route of Zheng's voyages and the Da Ming Hun Yi Tu (World Map of the Ming Dynasty) drawn in 1389. It is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved maps of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). There are also ancient ships?logs meticulously recording daily events.

A theater with a 270-degree surround-screen shows an eight-minute film about navigation.

For those who have always wanted to be great helmsmen, there's navigation simulator on the second level where people can experience sailing a ship, feel the wind and the rolling deck.

The Maritime and Navy Hall exhibits new technologies and achievements of China's maritime industry. It aims to create an international maritime exchange platform to enhance international shipping contact.

In the Hall of Seafarers, visitors can learn how sailors lived, ate, dressed, tattooed themselves and passed the time aboard ship.

Visitors can also learn how to tie knots.

In the Children's Center, kids put on costumes of mariners and pirates and have their pictures taken.

The museum has a cafe and restaurant.

Open: 9:30am-4:30pm (closed on Mondays)

Address: 197 Xinchengshengang Ave, Pudong

Admission: 50 yuan (30 yuan for students, 10 yuan for seniors over 70 years)

Tel: 6828-3691

How to get there:

China Maritime Museum is 75km from downtown Shanghai, 32km from Yangshan Deep-Water Port, 25km from Pudong International Airport.

Take S20 (to Pudong Airport) ?S2 (to Donghai Bridge) ?exit at Lingangxincheng.


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