Everything about Shanghai is amazing; well at least what we saw. On the way there our tour operator Anthony told us that Shanghai's population is 31 million - the highest population of any Chinese city and fifth in the world in terms of population - and since we have around 25 million in Australia our whole population pales into insignificance by comparison. Located in the Yangtze River Delta it has the world's busiest container port. It's also a global financial centre and, as Anthony told us, most Chinese aren't interested in politics but just want to make money!
Making money was also on the minds of the British when they began illegally exporting opium, mainly from India, to China in the 18th century, a trade that grew dramatically from about 1820. The Opium Wars arose from China’s attempts to suppress the opium trade as the widespread addiction in China was causing serious social and economic disruption. In March 1839 the Chinese government confiscated and destroyed more than 20,000 chests of opium—some 1,400 tons of the drug—that were warehoused at Canton (Guangzhou) by British merchants which resulted in the First Opium War. Shanghai was one of five treaty ports
forced open to foreign trade following the British victory over China. The subsequent 1842 Treaty of Nanking and 1844 Treaty of Whampoa allowed the establishment of the Shanghai International Settlement and the French Concession. Wikipedia tells me that as a major administrative, shipping and trading city, Shanghai grew in importance in the 19th century due to trade and recognition of its favourable port location and economic potential.
The city then flourished as a centre of commerce between China and other parts of the world, and became the primary financial hub of the Asia-Pacific region in the 1930s. However, with the Communist Party takeover of the mainland in 1949, trade was limited to other socialist countries, and the city's global influence declined. In the 1990s, the economic reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping resulted in an intense re-development of the city, aiding the return of finance and foreign investment to the city. It has since re-emerged as a hub for international trade and finance; it is the home of the Shanghai Stock Exchange, one of the world's largest by market capitalisation. So Shanghai has quite an amazing history and, as soon as you arrive, you can see that it's
The People's Monument in Huanghu Park
Situated at the North End of the Bund
a powerhouse; somewhere that we'd like to return to at some time in the future!
After having lunch there we were ready to visit the Nanjing walking district and then continue to the Bund. The Shanghai Bund has dozens of historical buildings, lining the Huangpu River, that once housed numerous banks and trading houses from the UK, France, USA, Italy, Russia, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Belgium. It also has the consulates of Russia and Britain, plus the Shanghai and Masonic Clubs. The Bund lies north of the old, walled city of Shanghai. It was initially a British settlement; later the British and American settlements were combined in the International Settlement. Magnificent commercial buildings in the Beaux Arts style sprung up in the years around the turn of the 20th century as the Bund developed into a major financial centre of east Asia.There's a lot about Shanghai I have to learn as you can see since most of this information I found online.
Anyway, while most of the others in our group went to explore some of the shops on Nanjing Street Kev and I went into the Shanghai Peace Hotel for a drink,
a bite to eat and a look around. The Fairmont Peace Hotel is a 'luxurious Art-Deco masterpiece’, reinvented for the 21st century. A landmark hotel it has historically served as a glamorous playground for the elite, where every night there was an extravagant gala event and veritable Parisian fashion show. Meticulously restored to its original grandeur, guests can revive memories of old Shanghai cabarets and gala parties whilst stepping on the iconic sprung-wooden dance floor. It was a great place to explore and, in the hotel's museum we discovered three bath robes each one embroidered with a name; Malcolm Turnbull, Barack Obama & Justin Trudeau, at least three of the people who'd stayed there!
Meeting the rest of our party in the evening we then all went on a Huangpu River Cruise where the buildings of Shanghai's dramatic skyline are lit up every night. Various boats sail up and down while we all took lots and lots of photographs. It was a fitting end to our last night in China although we still had about an hour's drive to get to our hotel.
Breakfast the following day gave us the opportunity to say goodbye
to those who'd been on the tour with us, some of whom were having a few more days in Shanghai. A great crowd, it had been a pleasure to spend time with them all. But while all good things come to an end, its always wonderful to finally arrive back home.
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