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.

Music on the Bund
Browsing in the Shànghǎi shops

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:

Koi pond
Elaborate old Shànghǎi buildings
Cute dog on what seems to be a dragon turtle
Elegant lunch with Shànghǎi Normal University hosts
Jan from UHMC with Tony and Laura from Shànghǎi Normal University
We enjoyed many feasts

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.

The Shànghǎi Financial Center, China's tallest building, behind the seemingly taller building in the foreground

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.

Oriental Pearl Tower on the left

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 Pudong side of the river--the new section of Shànghǎi

Pudong building

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.

Oriental Pearl Tower view from the Bund
City lights reflecting on the Huangpu River

Tourist boats and working vessels navigate the Huangpu River.

We loved the Bund and watching people.

Cute girl on the Bund
Group relaxing on the Bund
Of course, the Bund is a great spot for wedding photos
Cute boys too
Seasoned couple
Great ice cream treats

Tony, Barry, Randall, Jan, and Cathy: relaxing on the Bund

Some ride on the Bund
Local drink stand: Eating and drinking as you are strolling is part of the Bund experience.  
The Bund can be overwhelming
Dad and child
Family enjoying the Bund

and at night–

European designed architecture on one side the Bund
The newly renovated Peace Hotel on the Bund
View on the Bund
Lights on the Shànghǎi Bund–new buildings across the Huangpu  River
View from the Bund of the Pudong–modern area
Walking on the Bund
Rain on a Shànghǎi street

Shanghai is a good place to eat.

Barry and Liping
Jan and Randall–We ate well in Shànghǎi

Shànghǎi girl reading in a coffee shop

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).

Jacket for the dress that Cathy will wear to her daughter’s wedding
Cathy putting in her order for the dress and jacket

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.

South Bund Soft Spinning Market
Glitter in an upscale Shànghǎi shopping mall–from right: Randall, Jan, and me

Dior, Cartier, Louis Vuitton . . . You can buy it all here

Shànghǎi  has wonderful museums and many events:

Platers and bowls in the Shànghǎi Museum
Jingdeghen ware from the Kangxi Reign (A.D. 1662-1722)

Beautiful pieces in the Shànghǎi Museum

Some pieces in the Shànghǎi  Museum date back to 4,800 B.C. !!

Not only are the museums interesting, modern sports are available too.

Basketball in Shànghǎi

The Shànghǎi parks are beautiful and interesting.

Guilin Park entrance
People bring their birds to the park and hang the cages in the trees while the owners play cards
Guilin Park–originally the home of a Shànghǎi gangster

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.

Tina, the newly graduated university student who befriended us in the Shànghǎi train station, with Barry and me 

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.

The Shànghǎi  Train Station–the waiting rooms were vast and crowded
The Shànghǎi Train Station seems in many ways like an airport with its many shops and new facilities
Waiting patiently for the train

Because we arrived at the train station two hours before departure, we were able to get seats in the waiting room.

The new trains of many, many cars stretch along the platform.
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

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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

2 responses to “Shànghǎi, China — Vibrant, Global City”

  1. Patricia Rouse says :

    Hi Renee, Reading up on your blog to catch up since June postings. Did you say you were returning to Maui before the next teaching position started? Where are you now? Missing you. Pat

    • reneeriley says :

      Hi Pat:
      Although it seems I’m still in China on our blog–and I want to do at least few more about our experiences there: one on the final events of the ZAFU year, another a summary of what surprised us during our months there, and maybe one or more on “Let’s Get Cooking China” to share recipes that students gave us, we have actually been back on the U.S. Mainland for a month, and have been having wonderful experiences here visiting family, friends, and Servas hosts. I’m eager to share these experiences too when I get computer time.

      As for where we are, Barry and I drove to Evergreen, Co. last night after two days on an 18,000 acre Wyoming cattle ranch with a Servas host. Since they raise beef for a living, I couldn’t say I was a vegetarian, so for the first time in over eight years, I intentionally ate chicken (o.k.), a little hamburger in a brown gravy (tasty), and bacon (outstanding)! We were near Belle Fouche, South Dakota, in time for the 71st Harley Rally in Sturgis, S.D. I’ve never seen so many motorcycles! Although most had the leather jackets and some the tattoos, they are no longer the Harley gangs of the 60s. In fact, if you want to invest, my tip is to put your money on Harley trikes. The riders were friendly and having a great time. We drove through the Black Hills and Badlands, saw Mount Rushmore and lots of animals including a buffalo that was so close to our car that I couldn’t fit him completely in a photo. Now we are with my friend Pam whom I’ve known since about 1971. This morning, I saw Stellar Jays and a herd of elk as Pam and I walked over to her exercise class. She is the volunteer-director of a cat rescue shelter, so I get to go play with cats this afternoon. We’ll go on to visit friends Roy and Fran in Breckenridge in a few days. We are not sure where we will go then, but I still want to go see my brother in Gainesville, Fl. and we haven’t started heading that way yet. We are visiting our way back to Maui and want to be there for at least a few months before we head back to China at the end of February.

      We look forward to seeing everyone on Maui in a few months. Tell everyone “hi” for us. Aloha, Renee

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