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Old April 1st, 2011, 05:07 PM   #1
Jan
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My Shanghai

01. The Bund, or riverwalk along the West bank of the Huangpu River, is clearly the place to be. It’s always a good sign of metropolitan-ness when locals crowd together on some spot to see and to be seen. In general I didn’t see many non-Chinese people in Shanghai but as another big-city-sign my tall and white appearance wasn’t a spectacle as it was in Shenzhen. Also the colonial buildings tell you this is not just a big city but a metropolitan one.



02. Very typical image from Pudong seen from the Bund. Click the image for a large version. Amazingly Pudong was flatland up to 20 years ago. CNN has an sweet item about this, actually quoting some skyscraper forum while at it. Unfortunately there are no cool bridges crossing the span of the river in the center section of town, which I guess has something to do with the big ships still sailing the river. Actually while I was there I didn’t find a quick and proper way to go from the one side of the city to the other one other than the metro or that underwhelming sightseeing tunnel, which at 45 Yuan ($7) is indeed a cheesy rip off



03. In general Chinese like to do things in a big way, and illuminating buildings is no exception. To my Western eyes most of it seems overdone or even tacky, but I obviously that’s the way they like it. In all it looks happy, which I think sums Chinese nature in pretty accurate. Interestingly most buildings joined in with Earth Hour, although shutting of these kind of lights one hour per 8,760 hours (indeed a year) seems a bit hypocritical to me.



04. More Bund by Night. In general Shanghai seemed like a very well organized city. I expected (feared) more of that Mumbai-like mayhem but it was nothing of that. Even traffic wasn’t as horrendous as in some huge cities I've been to, and Shanghai is a city of 19 million. Later in the week I read in a local newspaper that new driving licenses were handed out by way of lottery in an attempt to control traffic. Whatever one may think of the political issues in China, there are just problems that democracy won’t take on in a big way like this.



05. And more Bund. In my opinion, good building illumination is the one where you cannot see the source.



06. I took and edited this photo to focus on the flag waving, but there is a surprising lack of visual power boosting as you might expect from a communist system. But then again China isn’t a communist country in the classical sense of the word. It's more like it's being run like a company. Actually if organized growth by the numbers is your goal, the Chinese systems seems far more efficient than a classic democratic system. You see this everywhere. The metro system is fast, clean, cheap ($.50 per ride), modern, smooth and gets you everywhere and they keep on adding lines. Chinese rail system has many high-speed trains and I’ll save you the typical shot of posting the speed of the Maglev train from the airport (430 km/hour), but the thing sure is a fun ride. Living in a city where the metro system is one of the most deteriorated and in the world (Chicago) and being from a country which has been debating a 7 km. highway between 2 of its 3 largest cities for the past 40 years (the Netherlands), seeing that these projects actually get done fast and proper is an opinion changing experience.



07. Nanjing Street is the main pedestrian shopping street. Like pretty much every other main shopping mall in the world, this one is dominated by the likes of Zara, Esprit, Nike Store etc. Many people, mainly elderly woman, doing their morning excessive in themed groups in the street. That funky looking Jetson's tower in the back is the Radisson Hotel by the way.



08. It didn't take very long (about 6 minutes) to realize that strolling Nanjing Street wasn't meant for white guys by themselves. To put it nicely, many people inquired whether I had the right time, needed to relax a bit or wanted to come along for a friendly drink. On the other hand it was nice to see that Chicago Bull's Derrick Rose appeared to have made international star status.



09. People Square is a former racetrack transformed into a city center park. The old building (3rd from right) is the Park Hotel, an art deco building designed by Hungarian architect Laszlo Hudec in the early 30's, At 84 meters it was the tallest building in Asia at until 1952, which is the kind of history that gives a city something you cannot buy, ie. character. On the left the Ritz Carlton, which like many tall buildings really wanted to have a striking top. Looks a bit devilish if you ask me, but a striking top it sure is.



10.Buildings which cannot make up their mind whether when it comes to architectural style usually have none and hence look ugly. Typically commissioned by someone with a cheap taste. Here is a fine example of that. The commercial outings truly are the icing on that cake.



11. The Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center in People’s Park is more the like Urban Development Promotion Center, and has a huge scale model of Shanghai on the 4th floor. Although I thought some of the exhibits are in need of an upgrade, the fact that a city devotes a whole building for this purpose is impressive nonetheless.



12. I wanted to insert the image of a bloke washing the public garbage cans (one for recyclable garbage, one for non the recyclables) to state that the city generally looks very clean.



13. While looking for the Propaganda Poster Art Centre I stumbled upon one of the nice areas in town. Shaped by small scale but dense development, with lots of cosy coffee houses and fun shopping it brought back images of the more pleasant cities along the Mediterranean. The Poster Centre was extremely hard to find as it is hidden in the basement of a residential complex and you have to ask the guard on duty to let you in, which is a rather stunning display of lack of propaganda for it. When walking the neighborhood I had already figured out that getting me on of them happy-to-be-a-communist-posters would not really be in the spirit of my dislike for parting with large sums of money at one and the same moment. Nice display though.



14. Yuyuan Gardens was one of them places that local tell you to go to. As these are usually the places they never go themselves but expect tourists to go to I was a bit weary doing so, but as I hadn’t seen any classical Chinese buildings I figured it would be well spend Sunday morning. Indeed this is where all white tall people seem to hang out and it took a few moments to develop judgment of these gardens from a tourist trap to a place that had a certain Rivendell quality to it.



15. The city is never far away though, but I like images showing an urban contrast.



16. Adjacent to Yuyuan gardens is the Yuyuan Bazaar, which I’m afraid is a recently built shopping area which is trying very, very hard to look quintessential Chinese. The sad thing is that these are laden with Western franchises. The Chinese seems to have developed a particular fondness of Kentucky Fried Chicken by the way, they're everywhere.



17. Comrade #1. There is a surprising lack of absence of cult of personality in China. Typically metro lines and old warehouses are just numbered. In Chinese, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc. are being called Day One, Day Two, Day Three, etc, months the same. Only Mao Zedong can be found in bronze every once in while. It seems that the Chinese still admire the bloke, which if you grew up in a time when communism was considered evil seems a bit strange. A young student who showed me around Tongji University pointed out one of these statues while uttering some lines that suggested Mao pretty much was the best human being who ever lived, and it didn't seem like he was taking the piss either. Also I would have expected more of a media controlled atmosphere but none of that, or at least on the surface. Newspaper appeared fairly critical and open and lacked those typically enforced always-look-on-the-bright-side-of-life editorials you sometimes read in the English Middle East newspapers. Local bookstores actually carried titles such as ‘Why Chinese Products Suck’ and ‘Never Trust a Chink’. A book on Chinese Slang had a section on ‘Cunt related obscenities’, which is either a fairly liberal display of free media, or a stunning lack of the English language. But please let the record show that English will get you around pretty much everywhere in Shanghai, unlike other places in China where you very much need an extra set of limbs just to get around.



18. The Oriental Pearl Tower may look a bit unconventional, but it’s definitely a striking presence in the Shanghai Skyline. Typically that skyline is everywhere, as in backdrops of many commercial outings. Instead if going up I opted for the Shanghai History Museum underneath the tower, which is an world class example of how you can visualize the (urban) history of the city in an attractive way. They had recreated many historic scenes in scale models or real size settings and triggered most of your senses by adding movement, illumination and background noises. Well done.



19. Shanghai Tower needs no introduction on these forums. Here it is under construction. Everything about this project is impressive, and being from Chicago it’s nice to know that a Chicago architect has designed this supertall building. But as this tower is supposed to represent the future of China I would reason that a Chinese bloke should have designed that. Ah well…



20. More Shanghai Tower. Click to enlarge. In English they call it the Shanghai Tower but the Chinese name translates into Shanghai Center as in Chinese the tower extension appeared to have been already claimed...



21. The four construction cranes are attached to each of the sides of the concrete core. They'll climb up along with the growing core.



22. Some of the ‘other’ towers on Pudong. Typically Chinese skyscrapers have green glass and some kind of a funny ending. Not sure if I like that, but at definitely it looks Chinese so at least it has that going for it. As much as I am impressed by the speed of development the whole area obviously looks like it has been developed in one decade. I’m generally not excited by imagining a city which is predominantly shaped in one decade as the novelty tends to wear off rather fast.



23. Even the World Financial Center looks like a Christmas Tree if you ask me…



24. Through my professional contacts I was able to set myself up at the Grand Hyatt located in the upper half of the Jin Mao Building. They actually set me up in aclub deluxe river view king suite facing the Huangpu district, which is as deluxe as the name suggests.



25. If you think that a bubbly bathtub with a skyline view is enough to make me intensely happy for weeks on end, then you are correct. There isn't a lot more enjoyable than hanging out in the tub early morning wondering what you are going to do with the day, which might as well be hanging around that tub all day. Splendid. And yes, this picture was taken with the sole purpose of showing off.



26. Grand Hyatt Atrium, reaching from floor 56 to the top and as such is the world's highest. Redefined my personal definition of ‘wow’.



27. Tower with a temple bell on the roof. Sweet. I don't know what building this is, but I'll kick it up to Marshall to find out, sure he knows. I'll report back on this one.



28. Some single journey tickets in the Shanghai Metro (like this one) show a Shanghai skyline with a Jin Mao Building which is taller than the Shanghai World Financial center (WFC). The scale of Pudong is so grand that you would forget that WFC is still the second tallest completed building in the world. Note the observatory hanging down the tallest skybridge of the WFC.



29. The observatory of the World Financial Center is the highest in the world but unfortunately it doesn’t let you look to the North and the South, so no views of the city. The gift shop has a steel replica of the tower which is designed as a beer bottle opener. I actually like to think they designed the building just for this purpose.



30. Me and my ... something else's shadow.



31. Jin Mao Building is a personal favorite of mine, also because of the detailing.



32. Typical view from the WFC observatory.



33. Sea of skyscrapers, that because it was taken with a maximum zoom looks more threatening than it actually is. The picture needed quite some enhancement to make it look like this though.



34. I couldn't get a more clear shot than this, which I reckon is an air quality issue. Probably because of some deep breathing during an early morning jogging session along the Bund I felt like having a cold for three days. The city didn't seem as smoggy as it sometimes is being pictured, but I don't think that haze I've been staring at all week was a natural thing either.



Overall I am very impressed by the way things are organized and also the scale of development. As it seems here is where it will be happening in the next many years, I hope that China finds the kind of creativity to shape this moment in time, as cultural outings, like architecture, will tell the story. As much as a lack of democracy allows for grand achievements, creativity requires a culture of individualism and free thinking, and I honestly cannot judge if Chinese culture allows for that. If China will indeed be the powerhouse of the 21st century, it needs to develop from 'Made in China' to 'Created in China'. It'll be fascinating to see how this goes.
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Old April 1st, 2011, 05:26 PM   #2
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wonderful thread and incredible photos and commentary!!
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Old April 1st, 2011, 05:54 PM   #3
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The most amazing city I ever seen! Thank you for great photos! Want more))

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Very impressive O_o
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Old April 1st, 2011, 09:51 PM   #4
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OMFG!!!

Jan great thread with excellent pictures but even more so superb comments and explanations. You make me jealous, once again
Thanks for sharing this!!

This place needs a visit of me also Well probably next year then.
You stayed in the Grand Hyatt or ?
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Old April 1st, 2011, 11:03 PM   #5
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Oh forgot to say in the other thread, some truly amazing angles from the top of the towers!
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Old April 2nd, 2011, 01:42 AM   #6
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Your hotel view is amazing!!
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Old April 2nd, 2011, 05:02 AM   #7
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Nice pictures! I liked the commentary that you provided as well, it makes it easy to get a feel for your trip and a feel for the city.
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Old April 2nd, 2011, 05:09 AM   #8
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I don't like how Pudong appears to be a barren office park filled with magnificent skyscrapers. There's no street life or vibrancy.
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Old April 2nd, 2011, 06:03 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertWalpole View Post
I don't like how Pudong appears to be a barren office park filled with magnificent skyscrapers. There's no street life or vibrancy.
That's only Lujiazui, the tip of Pudong with all of the financial industry towers. The rest of Pudong (and it's huge) is busy and bustling just like Puxi. The only real difference is that almost everywhere in Pudong has reasonably wide streets so it feels a lot less claustrophobic.

Even the financial centre has (a lot) more people in it than in a lot of western cities. The square mile in London comes to mind. There are a lot of apartments nearby and the tourist attractions draw huge crowds.

The one thing that really makes it look empty is the shear scale of the area. The buildings are all truly huge and everything is twice as far away as your mind is telling you.
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Old April 2nd, 2011, 11:58 AM   #10
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Those photos around Shanghai are wonderful, nice Jan
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Old April 3rd, 2011, 01:15 AM   #11
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Impressive photos and extensive comments. Shanghai is now the no 1 "must go to city" in the world!
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Old April 4th, 2011, 07:32 PM   #12
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nice set. i like the last photo very much but it is sad that the haze is pollution.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 07:46 PM   #13
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beautiful place, I've been there once
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Old April 5th, 2011, 03:32 PM   #14
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very good photos and comments showing and explaining everything what Shanghai is about.

It must have been a splurge to overnight in that Hyatt hotel. I never made it there so far.

PS: the tourist tunnel is total trush but just for that hilariously funny if you do not expect too much from it
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Old April 5th, 2011, 04:03 PM   #15
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Incredible city and incredible pictures!!!!!

Please mooooooooore.
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Old April 5th, 2011, 05:25 PM   #16
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Great set of pictures. I guess the Chinese really have found the perfect solution to running a country. Not a democracy but also not a truly authoritarian system. Gets things done while we can't even build a train station in Germany.
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Old April 5th, 2011, 05:31 PM   #17
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Socialism with Chinese Characteristics?

Yeah, the franchises really ruin the scenery. Thats one thing why 'food minded people' don't like traveling locally in Western Australia, you eat the same food (fast food) where ever you go, which doesn't make it special
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Old April 6th, 2011, 02:32 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacks View Post
That's only Lujiazui, the tip of Pudong with all of the financial industry towers. The rest of Pudong (and it's huge) is busy and bustling just like Puxi. The only real difference is that almost everywhere in Pudong has reasonably wide streets so it feels a lot less claustrophobic.

Even the financial centre has (a lot) more people in it than in a lot of western cities. The square mile in London comes to mind. There are a lot of apartments nearby and the tourist attractions draw huge crowds.

The one thing that really makes it look empty is the shear scale of the area. The buildings are all truly huge and everything is twice as far away as your mind is telling you.
Thanks for the information. I hope to visit there.
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Old April 6th, 2011, 05:41 AM   #19
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great shots.... you're a pro.
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