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Published: August 14th 2010
Futuristic Pudong new area
Population: approximately 15 million people and growing.
We arrived in the bustling Shanghai south train station around 3pm and Scott’s chicken feet offering friend from the train offered... no, demanded, to help us find out way in the huge city. We hoped into a taxi with and his not so pleased looking wife and took off into the city. The chicken feet man called his daughter and had Scott talk her on the phone (ENGLISH!) while he talked to the driver in Chinese attempting to figure out where in the sprawling city our over-priced hotel room was. We eventually wound up at his hotel (funny enough we considered staying there), met his daughter, Scott went in with chicken feet and chicken feet jr to talk to reception and we were back on our way to our hotel! We finally pulled up in front of it.... on the complete opposite side of the city from where we thought it would be. Ahhh home! We stayed two nights too many, it was a rather nice room but the price we were paying was about 5 times our budget for a room per night. We eventually found room in the deluxe suite of
secret view of Shanghai's skyline
the places you find when you hop fences into areas you're not supposed to go.
the Ming Town Hikers Hostel... half price and the room was actually nicer then our previous 5 star hotel (go figure) so off we went to check in.
We spent a few days wandering around the Bund and East Nanjing area. The Bund has structures reminiscent of the days when Britain opened their first concession in the mid 1800’s, the French and the Japanese following before the 1900’s. In the 1990’s the road was widened and a floor barrier was built up, creating a large walkway which is PACKED with tourists every day and every night (trying to pick someone out in a crowd was like playing a massive real life game of ‘Where’s Waldo’). East Nanjing is THE place to shop in Shanghai, with everything from faux-brand to name brand goods, camera equipment to hand-held computers (even the new Ipad, which has yet to actually be released in China....).
Across the Huangpu River from the Bund is the Pudong New Area, what I called the downtown district with its looming skyscrapers and futuristic, if not sci-fi-esque buildings. This is where the new Shanghai World Financial Centre (SWFC for short), the Jinmao Tower, and the Oriental
Giants of the skyline
bottle opener... I mean the Shanghai World Financial Center and Jinmao tower
Pearl Tower are located; three of the most note worthy figures that help make up the amazing Shanghai skyline. The SWFC is 492m, making it the world’s third-tallest building, with the world’s highest (man-made) observation deck on the 100th floor, offering amazing (if slightly smoggy) views of surrounding Shanghai (we could see a corner of the World Expo in the distance from the top). Beside this is Jinmao Tower, which from the ground had a certain beauty about it. Closer to the river is the Oriental Pearl Tower, this building never ceased to amaze me with its shocking appearance, resembling something out of a star wars movie more than another ornament in the Shanghai skyline. We spent a day wandering below the giant towers, visiting the history museum and taking in amusing sight of the Chinese tourists themselves before heading back to The Bund for some night-time wandering and crowd watching.
The Bund at night makes me feel like China has a 24/7 watch on what we’re doing, when we’re doing it, and knows ahead of time where we’ll be. It felt like the entire population of Shanghai came out to the Bund that night to take
in the view with us, get pictures of the skyline, and upon realizing that we were there, pictures of us. Oh yea I forgot to mention, in China, we’re famous!! At one point I had a line up of families wanting their daughter or wife to have a picture taken with me.... the famous white girl (Scott gleefully ignored them and giggled behind his camera lens at me between comments of “5 ¥ a picture”). I have to say, I don’t think either of us has ever seen SO MANY PEOPLE all together in one spot at the same time, and that probably wasn’t even close to an eightieth of the population of Shanghai.
We also spent a few days enjoying the WORLD EXPO, which is on in Shanghai right now, but I’ll go over that in the next blog, the combination of seeing the regular Shanghai sights and the Expo made Shanghai feel like two completely different cities.
On one of our last nights in Shanghai we also went for a brief visit to the old town, which was fantastic! The shops along the street were selling pretty much anything and everything you could possibly
want from China, paintings and posters, scrolls in Chinese calligraphy, postcards, chopsticks, the list goes on. The buildings in the area were the most impressive part, a huge contrast to the modern city the Shanghai people were building across the Huangpu River in Pudong new area. There were more what you would expect of a Chinese building, and again, the area was packed with Chinese tourists as far as the eye could see.
Shanghai is a beautiful and bustling city, filled with people from every walk of life possible in China. It was easy to see the division between the classes here; a quick trip on the metro to West Nanjing brought you into a more high class area, with people dressed to the nine’s shopping in malls where it probably cost money just to breath the air inside. Walking down East Nanjing outside the metro stations you could see the poor begging in the streets and rummaging through the trash for empty bottles and useful goods.
The Metro was another amazing feature of the city; you could get pretty much anywhere in a matter of minutes for next to nothing. There were (to date) 12
lines hidden underneath the streets (line 11 being the most recent, and line 13 being used only for the Expo right now).
Our original plan was to spend only 5 days in Shanghai, but all the train, bus and plane tickets are full up for two weeks from the booking date, and we were forced to spend longer here (which turned out to work in our favour). So after almost two weeks, we’re leaving for Ji’nan on the fast train (6 hour journey, a total of 732 kms). We could easily have spent a month in this amazing city, with so much to do and see, for now all I can say is that we both hope to come back one day.
Xie xie Shanghai.
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