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Saturday, 01 May 2021

Hangzhou & Shanghai, China - Page 4

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The Bund and Pudong

Our driver took us to the most iconic night scene that Shanghai has to offer. At the river’s edge, in the area known as the Bund, we could see the older buildings from the European colonial era on one side, and the modern marvels on the futuristic side known as the Pudong. The Pudong looked like something out of a science fiction movie.


The Bund dates back to the mid 1800s, when the British colonized the area. Towering along the river are stately buildings that seem to stand as symbols of Westernization. Among them are the Customs House, Palace Hotel, Bank of China, and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, once considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Asia.


Turn around, and the sights on the other side of the river paint an entirely different picture: the Oriental Pearl TV Tower with it’s space-aged spheres, Shanghai World Financial Center, Jinmao Tower, and the recently completed Shanghai Tower. We would return by day, but this was certainly something that needed to be viewed at night.


Exhausted by the sights and sensations of the day, we finally arrived late at night to our hotel, the Crowne Plaza Shanghai, and hit our beds.



Shanghai Sights in the Fast Lane

We began our first full day in Shanghai with a breakfast fit for an Emperor—eastern and western foods providing both comfort food and the exotic we can’t find back home.


Our first destination of the day was Shanghai’s Maglev. The Maglev, or magnetically levitated train, is the only train in the world that levitates and has no wheels at all. During our short excursion, the Maglev took us to speeds as high as 431 kilometers per hour! That’s almost 240 miles per hour! The scenery outside our window sped by fast, but the ride was even smoother than the average commuter train. Except for when the other Maglev came passing us from the other direction. Even when we counted down, knowing exactly when it was going to happen, the swift pass made everyone on the train jump!


From Fastest to Tallest

After taking the fastest ground transportation in the world, we went to the top of the JinMao Tower for a 360-degree panoramic view of Shanghai’s cityscape. We were on the 88th floor, and it was exhilarating to view Shanghai from above. And to see, up close, the construction of what later became the second tallest building in the world. Shanghai Tower was still under construction, so we could see parts of the twisted building complete and others still open to the elements, not covered by glass. With 121 stories, it stands over 2,000 feet tall.


Jade, Gold, Wood

Grounded after some time in Shanghai’s skyscrapers, we visited the Jade Buddha Temple to see, hear, smell, and experience the services. It happened to be an ancestral holiday, so it was quite busy and loud—making it a more exciting visit than the usual tour.


The two Jade Buddha statues in question were brought to China from Burma in the 1800’s. The temple was originally built in 1882 to house the statues, but a fire in 1918 damaged the house. Now, three main halls are connected by two courts, and we were able to see a number of interesting statues, including golden ones, wooden ones that were painted a multitude of colors, and the two original statues of jade: one of a large reclining Buddha and the other a jewel-encrusted seated Buddha that was carved out of a single piece of jade.


Outside, many visitors and monks were burning offerings, singing, and dancing around the center temple. It provided great background music for our visit, and our exit.


Park to the People

Our next stop: the People’s Park and People’s Square. At the center of Shanghai, and a popular meeting place, the People’s Park and Square offered a vast area for strolling—sort of a smaller version of Central Park in New York or Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Some of the features of the park we got to see include the Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai Art Museum, and the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall (which shows a vision of the city as it should look in the near future—as though the current view wasn’t futuristic enough).


The highlight of our visit to the People’s Park was the Shanghai Museum. Shaped like a Shang-dynasty bronze ding pot, the museum includes more than 120,000 items dating as far back as 5,000 years. We enjoyed the ancient Chinese landscape and calligraphy paintings, jade sculptures, pottery figures, ceramics, coins, bronzes, and more. It was an interesting museum and had three floors full of art and antiquity.


(Page 4 of 5)
Last modified on Saturday, 01 May 2021

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