FROM HONG KONG, CHINA
HONG KONG, Mar 23, 2007 - After two days in Beijing, I flew Wednesday evening (Mar 21) to Shanghai, a place I called a "vertical city" during my last visit, back in October (as you can also see from the first thumbnail - above).
And the first thing that welcomed me at the elegant "JB Mandarin" hotel lobby was this marvelous vertical tapestry that actually tells a Chinese tale.
A close up of the gorgeous flowers in front of the tapestry. They were arranged to look like waterfalls of purple, white and yellow colors cascading down the 7-foot tall vases.
Click on above thumbnails to enlarge some details of the interior of my room and nearby hotel decorations. Everything was very elegant. But as it turns out, I had technical problems, ranging from intermittent power failures to internet access issues that would cause me not to want to return to this otherwise lovely hotel again. Guess if I can't have both, I value things that work more than those that look pretty.
My early Thursday morning walk along the Shanghai streets was quite interesting.
To start with, I took in a view of the Shanghai Exhibition Center between the branches this pretty bonsai tree outside my room.
The Center was actually built in the 1950s as a Sino-Soviet friendship memorial. The big red star atop the highest steeple still attests to it, even though the friendship had long since evaporated into enmity, then morphed into begrudging tolerance of each other.
The morning haze was typical the last time around, too, as it was in October, as you can see from the above thumbnails (click to enlarge).
Down on the ground, I was perplexed by the above site. Normally we are used to seeing birds or fruit hanging on trees. But here, in Shanghai, they also grow men on trees. :-) These guys seem to be taking down the lights that I presume decorated these trees during the Chinese New Year festivities.
A little farther down the street, this group of mostly older women were dancing to the rhythm of music blaring from a boom box.
You can see the boom box speaker in lower right corner of the picture.
A bit farther down the street yet, there seemed to be a changing of the (Shanghai police) guard taking place (near where the man hang from trees).
As in Beijing, the new and the old often mix in Shanghai, too, as you can see from these photos. It's just that there is a lot more old that's also charming in Shanghai.
...and more of the new - evidence of globalization can be seen everywhere.
But the ultimate destination of my walk was this ancient Buddhist temple that I spied the night before during our ride to the hotel.
It's Chinese name translates into Peace and Tranquility. I thought it quite curious that the temple and the communist memorial coexisted so close to each other.
Across the street from the temple was this auditorium that's evidently used for concerts.
And on the sidewalk in front of it, one can see this rock band performing. Once again, mixing the old and the new.
Right behind the sculptures, another group was seniors was practicing taichi [sic], as if to spite the modern contorted rock figures with their quiet poise and self-control.
Since Shanghai traffic jams are monumental at times, especially during rush hours, many Chinese still resort to the old tried and proven ways of getting to work - by bicycle.
Such contrasts can also be found across the river where Pudong rises to the sky as the epitome of the new Shanghai, "The Vertical City." This particular apartment complex is new. Yet it looks like something from London or Paris neighborhoods.
Interestingly, I came across this scene on my way to a meeting at the GM (yes, General Motors) plant in the Pudong suburbia.
As with so many things in Shanghai, what are normally a grimy rusted out places in North America, are beautiful campuses here. Well, at least as beautiful as any industrial complex can be made to look. Take a look, for example, at these gorgeous blooming flowers that are the "official flower of Shanghai."
And more of the same in the other direction.
Pudong: Symbol of New Power of Shanghai
While Pucee [sic], the older part of Shanghai, has its undeniable charms, Pudong is all about the power of modern architecture. We spent our lunchtime cruising and sightseeing in this area of Shanghai. Hop aboard and join the ride...
Typical Pudong skyscrapers as seen from the ground level (above)...
...and close ups of the telecom tower and the surrounding area.
After we crossed the river through a tunnel, this is a view of the Pudong that awaited us on the other side.
While navigating through the old part of Shanghai toward the river, we came across some interesting scenes... again, contrasts of old and new. Residents of this old neighborhood dry their laundry outside the windows, as you can see above, as the 19th century-style trade and commerce take place in the little shops below their apartments. [I'll leave you guessing about how I took this picture that makes it seem as if the photographer was standing on the limo roof]. :-)
Back on the river, I repeated the same trick, this time taking a shot of the old Shanghai banking district along the river bank.
A view of Pudong skyscrapers from the promenade on the other side (old Shanghai). You can click away on the rest of the thumbnails if you want to join me for a brisk walk on the promenade...
After a few more afternoon meetings, we headed back out to the Pudong airport, about a 30 mile-ride from the old Shanghai.
The airport lies very close to the East China Sea, some of which washes up literally against the pylons supporting the freeways that leads to it.
Pudong is probably the largest airport I have ever seen anywhere in the world. Which is both good and bad. Good, because it is quite spacious and appears uncrowded. Bad, because one has to do a lot of walking (or running, if you're late for your flight). Like the bicycle, guess that's another thing that keeps the Shanghai people fit. The terminal building above, seen here at sunset, is just one of several enormous structures that comprise the Pudong airport.
Off to Shenzhen next...