01 Nov Shanghai, China – The Oriental Pearl
In the afternoon of September 4, 2018 we travelled from Suzhou to Shanghai and booked into the Howard Johnson Hong Qiao Airport Hotel. Our tour guide, Joe, helped make the 2 hour journey pass quickly, as he imparted more of his knowledge about the region and China in general, with a mix of good humour, stories and relevent historical facts.
I am surprised how much we (and our tour group) bonded with our tour guides, Michael (in Beijing) and Joe (Hangzhou, Suzhou and Shanghai).
View from our hotel room in Shanghai
On the morning of September 5, Day 7 in China, we took a joy ride on Shanghai’s Maglev “Very Fast Magnetic Train”, travelling 30 km in just 7 minutes 20 seconds at a top speed of 430 km/hr. And just for “the heck of it” we stayed onboard for the return journey.
“The Maglev Train” at Longyang Road Station, Pudong District
The Shanghai Museum
There are so many notable exhibits in this museum. I could have spent a day there.
The impressive entrance to the amazing Shanghia Museum
Polychrome glazed pottery statue of Heavenly Guardian – Tang Dynasty AD 618 ~ 907
The “Guardian” is not standing on a baby, but rather an evil creature, from which we presumably need protection.
Vase of Fencais design, with Eight Immortals – Qing Dynasty AD 1736 ~ 1795
Painting with ink and water colours from Mid-Ming Dynasty – AD 1368 ~ 1572
Ground floor tiles and staircase of the Museum
The colours and shapes in the tile patterns above seem to have references to China’s Giant Panda. What do you think?
Another view of the museum’s attractive staircase
This District reflects an old style of Shanghai housing called “shikumen” (lane house); two or three-story houses like western terrace houses. The Xintiandi area is a preserve of this style, offering both original and refurbished examples.
The site of the first National Congress of the Communist Party of China is also located in the Xintiandi District and is celebrated with a permanent memorial exhibition.
A brass relief representing the attendees
It is perhaps easier to understand why these revolutionaries felt the need for such drastic action when one considers how poorly China was treated by western countries, such as Britain and France during and following the Opium Wars of the 19th Century.
Great, glorious and correct? A declaration placed near the exit of the memorial exhibition
Yuyuan Garden Malls – China Town in China
The Old and the New Business Districts
The Huangpu River is the dividing line between the old and the new Shanghai.
The Huangpu River runs in a northerly direct through Shanghai, flowing into the Yangtze River Delta some 20 km north of here
Shanghai was one of six Chinese cities forced open for trade with “the West” as a result of the Opium Wars with the British (and then French) 1839-1842 and 1856-1860. Following their victory, the British and French set up “Concessions” within Shanghai (areas of the city for their nationals). Somehow the Americans also took up “residence”.
For this reason Shanghai became “westernised” long before other parts of China. The old financial centre of Shanghai, along The Bund (on the western side of Huangpu River) provides evidence of this westernisation.
Looking north along The Bund – the Huangpu River on the right and the old financial sector buildings on the left
We spent about an hour here at The Bund, taking in the different architectural styles on the western and eastern sides of the river.
The Old European Style Architecture
Looking south along The Bund, with the Bund Bull centre frame
The New – Views from The Bund across to the eastern side of the Huangpu River
The Oriental Pearl Communications Tower
Shanghai’s tallest building, The Shanghai Tower, next to the “Bottle Opener” (Shanghai World Financial Centre)
On the last day in Shanghai we visited the eastern bank to “climb” the Jin Mao Tower.
Looking up – Jin Mao Tower (left), Shanghai World Financial Centre (Centre) and Shanghai Tower (right)
View from the Jin Mao Tower, past the Oriental Pearl, across to the western bank of the Huangpu River
Perhaps, even more spectacular was the night cruise on Huangpu river.
Nanjing Road, Up-market Shopping
The Buddhist Temple
There are an estimated 245 million Buddhists in China, although it is officially an atheist country. Shanghai’s main Buddhist Temple is large and seemingly well attended. It is situated on the western side of the Huangpu River, south of the Yuyuan Garden Malls.
By no means is the future of Buddhism or Christianity or any other religion guaranteed in China. And it is clear that for now, in China, one’s personal beliefs must remain just that, personal … and private.
Our visit to China was both “eye-opening” and a privilege. We saw structural development beyond anything we expected. We witnessed social progress that also exceeded our expectations. We experienced contact with people whose dreams and aspirations are much like ours. However, we could still sense the underlying control of a dictatorial regime, that may or may not be moving towards less control. Only time will tell.