Monday, November 21, 2011

Shanghai: from the Bund to the Pudong Skyline

Blog Entry #49: Shanghai: from the Bund to the Pudong Skyline

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dan & Pat & Shanghai Skyline
Pat and I had only one day in Shanghai, and we spent much of it trying to find a travel agency where we could buy our Japan Rail passes (which we had failed to do in Hong Kong), so our experience of this vibrant and rapidly growing city was limited. 
Colonial Era buildings in the Bund District, Shanghai
Nonetheless, it is impossible not to be impressed with Shanghai, from its beautiful colonial era “Bund” European-style buildings along the south bank of the Huangpu River, to the skyscraper-crazed competition for highest building taking place just across the river on its north bank in Pudong.
Pudong Skyline from the MV Explorer
MV Explorer docked on far left, Shanghai
Skyscrapers in Shanghai
Our ship was docked just across from Pudong, treating us to an evening spectacle when the skyscrapers and iconic Oriental Pearl TV Tower are lit up from 6-10 pm.  Arriving at night from Beijing, this was our first view of Shanghai; the trifecta of the 468 meter Oriental Pearl, the 421 meter pagoda-like Jinmao Tower, and the 492 meter Shanghai World Financial Centre (known locally as “the Bottle Opener” for its trapezoidal opening near the top) overwhelm the rest of the city.  This is a city on the move, and much of the motion is vertical: today Shanghai has over 1200 buildings that top 12 floors, and over 30 that top 200 meters.
During the day, however, it was possible to visit some of Shanghai’s other neighborhoods, and to stroll along the Huangpu River to get a sense of “old Shanghai” before it, like Shenzhen, opened to the West and integrated into the global economy. 
Old Town in Shanghai
The 1842 Treaty of Nanking following the first Opium War between China and Great Britain, forced Shanghai’s opening to the west as a “British Concession,” followed soon by American and French Concessions that put much of the waterfront under foreign control for the next 100 years.
Old & New in Old Town
Temple in Yuyuan Gardens, Shanghai

Dan in Yuyuan Gardens
Yuyuan Gardens, Shanghai
Favorite Sign in Shanghai
Jinmao Tower from Yuyuan
Temple Interior Yuyuan Gardens
In Yuyuan Gardens
Crisscrossing Shanghai via several taxi rides while looking for the elusive travel agency (we did eventually find the right one and got our Japan Rail passes), we headed to Old Town and a lovely quiet hour in the Yuyuan Gardens, built during the Ming dynasty from 1559-1577 by the wealthy Pan family.  It now preserves a quite sanctuary in the midst of an energetic and somewhat chaotic shopping neighborhood, built in old imperial architectural style.
Another tasty meal in Shanghai
Walking along the Bund in Shanghai
Pudong Skyline from the Gund
Following our time in the Yuyuan Garden, and having politely declined the umpteenth “Rolex Watch” offer, we had a pleasant and leisurely walk back to the ship along the Bund, taking in the views of the skyscrapers across the river in Pudong. 

One more dazzling light show that night over supper on the deck, and then we were heading down the Huangpu River for the East China Sea and our 2-day traverse across to Japan.  

Pat & Bill Stone as we leave Shanghai

Our time in China went by quickly, and exposed us to four fascinating but very different metropolises: Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Beijing, and Shanghai.  Just a small sampling, but we are very grateful to now have visited at least a few parts of this rich and complex land.

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