A Day and Night in Shanghai
After visiting the Yuyuan Gardens in Shanghai we set off to explore, having only one day really to see this gorgeous cosmopolitan city.Any touring of Shanghai has to start with the spectacular Bund, the waterfront pedestrian walkway (where fortunately it appears hawkers are prohibited) that stretches along the Huangpu River.The Bund has undergone lots of renovation over the years, most recently in 2008 to remove traffic, demolish old structures that blocked the views, and restore bridges. The colonial architecture buildings along the eastern side are lovely, and the view across to the financial center is simply iconic.After the Bund we walked through People’s Park and Square in the center of the city on the way to Nanjing Road, the pedestrian only shopping street that rivals any major city in the world. On the way, though, we passed a woman pulling a cart with a rope around her neck, a reminder that not everyone enjoys the new affluence that we see in the big cities of China.Nanjing Road is simply pulsating with crowds – some dipping into the fancy stores to shop while others fend off the hawkers in the street trying to guide shoppers to their knock-off shops around the corner.The entire area feels a bit like Times Square in New York, with enormous billboards and flashing lights, and we got the feeling that this area never sleeps.As you walk along here, it’s impossible not to notice all the different types of architecture and the eye-grabbing buildings you see in Shanghai. Many of these buildings were designed by the most famous architects from all over the world.We had dinner at, of all things, a Howard Johnson’s, but you would never have recognized it. The place was dripping in crystal chandeliers towering above the marble foyer, and the food was a quite good Chinese meal served like so many we had had on this trip, family style with a huge lazy susan in the middle. From there we had the pleasure of seeing a Chinese acrobat show, which unfortunately we were asked not to photograph. I did sneak this shot in when they pulled one of the guys from our group up onto the stage to participate in a funny knife throwing skit.Although everyone was exhausted and really just wanted to tuck into our hotel (the Westin) after the dinner and show, I was adamant about getting out to see the Bund at night.The view of the financial district in Pudong lit up at night is probably one of the most recognizable around the world and fortunately the clouds and rain from earlier in the day had cleared up to give us a clear view of the buildings.The building in this area began in 1994 with the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, and everything else you see in Pudong, including the 1,379 foot tall Jinmao Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center – the building everyone seems to call the bottle opener – came after that.The colonial buildings along the Bund are also lit up at night, and include such famous places as the old Customs House, the former Bank of Taiwan, The North China Daily News building, the Chartered Bank Building, and the Bank of China.We ended our long day and night in Shanghai with a stop into the Peace Hotel, the famous hotel built in 1930 that’s filled with art deco masterpieces (we got in trouble for trying to even photograph the lobby). The Peace Hotel and its Old Jazz Band preserved the pre-war atmosphere and the hotel just reopened again this year after renovations. It was the perfect setting to enjoy a nightcap while listening to jazz and preparing ourselves to head home from our long visit.