Shànghǎi, China — Vibrant, Global City
Barry and I headed next to Shànghǎi, a city of over 19,000,000 people. Because of its great port location, Shànghǎi was opened to foreign trade by the 1842 Treaty of Nanking and became a center of business between the East and the West. Now this vibrant, cosmopolitan city has been growing in importance as a major shipping center as well as a world financial center.
Street food: we ate it and never got sick (although I don’t eat meat) –and what we chose was always just cooked and hot and tasty.
Some things we did not try: fish parts for sale
We saw beauty everywhere:
One reason we love Shànghǎi is because of its architectural variety. Shànghǎi’s tallest building –actually China’s tallest building at 1,614 feet–is the Shànghǎi World Financial Center. Its trapezoidal hole at its peak makes it look–some people say– a lot like a giant bottle opener.
Originally it had been designed with a circular opening at the peak; however, in the planning stage, many people including the Shànghǎi mayor expressed dismay that the designed looked too much like the rising sun of the Japanese flag, and so the shape became what you see.
Another well-known structure is the Oriental Pearl Tower.
At the time it was finished in 1994, the Oriental Pearl Tower, a TV tower, was the tallest structure in China – 1,535 feet high. Its name is taken from the Tang Dynasty poem “Pipa Song,” by Bai Juyi, which is about the sprinkling sound of a pipa instrument– like pearls falling on a jade plate — although what we heard from the base was traffic sounds.
Another of the most recognized places in Shànghǎi is the Bund, a fantastic walkway along the Huangpu River. On one side, you can see the stately architecture of European design; on the other side the modern buildings of the changing China.
The word “bund” comes from an Anglo-Indian word that means “embankment along a muddy waterfront” which was a good description when the first British trading company established an office there in 1846. However, it soon became the epitome of elegance for this city of trade and is now a wonderful walkway for tourists and locals.
Tourist boats and working vessels navigate the Huangpu River.
We loved the Bund and watching people.
- Dad and child
and at night–
Shanghai is a good place to eat.
Shanghai is known for its shopping opportunities. At the South Bund Soft Spinning Market, you can buy tailor-made clothes, silks (real and not), and famous brands (also some real and some not).
Cathy was able to order a beautiful outfit for her daughter’s wedding this fall. The price was reasonable, the dress made to fit her, and the material, design, and workmanship beautiful.
Shànghǎi has wonderful museums and many events:
Some pieces in the Shànghǎi Museum date back to 4,800 B.C. !!
Not only are the museums interesting, modern sports are available too.
The Shànghǎi parks are beautiful and interesting.
We’d had a great time in Shànghǎi. Then we needed to make our way to Beijing. The train seemed to be the best choice for us.
Then Barry and I headed off to Beijing on an over-night hard seat train that took 14-hours. Our train covered about 665 miles to go from Shànghǎi to Beijing; the cost was $27 each in a clean if not exactly comfortable –especially after about 10 hours– train. Tickets sell out quickly. We were lucky to have assigned seats; some people didn’t.
Because we arrived at the train station two hours before departure, we were able to get seats in the waiting room.
- Barry and I had seats across the aisle from each other–six people on each side. Most of the passengers were students going home for the summer. We made it to Beijing, but we can now recommend taking soft-seat, fast trains.
- We love Shànghǎi, and I’ve been offered a teaching job there in the spring, so we are likely to continue to explore this city. Come visit.
- Zài Jiàn and Aloha, Renée