China 14: Welcome to Shanghai ~ along and above the riverfront
The fast train from Suzhou soon had us stepping out into Shanghai. We ditched bags at the hotel and set off to explore.
Mike again had the subway sussed and we got out at People’s Square. Both it and the adjacent People’s Park were built on what used to be the Shanghai Racecourse. They’ve retained a lot of the ground as green space, a wee oasis amidst the skyscrapers.
As foretold in our guidebook, we were approached by a scammer, a female asking if we could take a photo. Sounds harmless enough but apparently this leads to general chitchat, then going somewhere for a tea ceremony (not that we would’ve), then a hefty bill.
While we could already see big differences between Shanghai and Beijing, the park spaces were used for similar gathering and recreational purposes.
On the outer edge of the park we walked toward a mightily large billboard of George Clooney and turned down East Nanjing Road.
A famous shopping street, there were quirky window displays and store promotions to deviate one’s attention – though the unenthusiastic air guitar to loud music wasn’t quite enough to entice us inside.
We popped out on the riverfront, more specifically The Bund. This is Shanghai’s most famous landmark, a swathe of colonial-era highrise bordering a 1km promenade beside the Huangpu River.
Walking past the Mao statue and up onto the riverbank, our eyes feasted upon Pudong’s iconic skyline.
The striking syringe with pinky bulbous bits is the Oriental Pearl, China’s tallest tower until 2007. It was on the observation tower shortlist for later in the day.
Joining it was this, the Shanghai World Financial Centre, which eclipsed the Oriental Pearl’s record and for a time was the world’s tallest observation deck. Those tiny humans are 474m above ground level.
We wandered down The Bund and back again.
There was a huge array of watercraft going up and down the river, at one stage it was like a massive flotilla chugging through.
Along the way we saw more couples out on their pre-wedding photo shoots.
Fast forward a few hours, we caught a cab across the river to Pudong. We settled on the observation tower at SWFC and proceeded to find our way there.
As is customary with these places, it was a bit of a process to get up to the top – in this case the 100th floor. The height above ground was incredible and wasn’t the most comfortable feeling for this girly wuss. However, I did work up the courage to stand on the clear floor panels which looked down to the 97th floor skywalk; a minor miracle.
We waited a long time for the lights to kick in. Finally the Oriental Pearl sparked into life as did other structures around it.
After waiting so long we felt obliged to well and truly soak up the glittering skyline.
Restlessness eventually struck and we went back down, necks craning up to where we’d just been.
We found the elevated walkway, a fantastic place to eke out the Pudong city lights experience and add to the collection of rubbish shaky photos.
To bring us full circle, we made our way back over to The Bund.