Breakfast in China is a challenge for my allergies. Unless there is fruit on offer – and there was none at this hotel – I am pretty much out of luck. I suppose there is the rice porridge. Moochi seemed to really like it! Never mind, the streets in China are full of food and rice noodles are not hard to come by. After breakfast we took the subway back to People’s Square and this time took the blue bus, which crosses the Huangpo River (a tributary of the Yangtze that it joins on the north end of the city) by means of a wonderful cable-stayed bridge patterned after one in Canada. The circular approach to the bridge, making the most of the restricted terrain and surrounding buildings, is unique to Shanghai.

Once in Pudong, which is what the other side of the river is called, we made our way down to the business district, home of most of the city’s skyscrapers. We stopped at the Pearl Tower, but opted not to pay for the ride to the top as our ticket already gave us access to the Jin Mao Tower, which we reasoned would give us a good view of the Pearl Tower and the city beyond. Although partially obscured by smog, the view was indeed spectacular and the concept itself almost beyond belief. Here was this entire financial district of some thirty enormous buildings – all of which incidentally are of marvelously modern design – where twenty years ago there was nothing on this land but vegetable plots. The government embarked on a deliberate program of development, aiming to make Shanghai a commercial and financial hub, and in a mere twenty years had completely transformed both the landscape and the economy of this historic city. You can rail all you like against central, socialist planning, but when it sets its mind on something, the results can be enormously impressive. Too bad they have set their sights on the smog!

Rather than take the bus back to the city we chose instead to catch a quick ferry ride for the sake of the view. For a paltry 2 Yuan we got terrific views of both banks of the river, and arrived in the center of the Bund. We stopped for lunch at a pricey little bistro and then caught the bus up the street to the Yu Gardens, which we had noted on our tour yesterday.

The gardens are located in what was once the original walled city before the Europeans arrived and was slated to be torn down to make way for a modern development. But a local community organization had argued successfully for its preservation of the site for its historical value, and the result is a quaint little section of town with narrow little hudongs, or alleyways winding their way past lovely old houses graced with curving roves and enclosing gardens, pools and temples. Tourists flock to the little shops that have sprung up in the houses and laneways and we had a very pleasant afternoon strolling through the grounds of the garden and the neighborhood temples and shops before settling in for supper at a dim sum diner for bao dumplings and spring rolls.

After supper we made our way back to the river and caught the boat tour that was part of our Hop On/Off package. The boat was packed and seats were non-existent, but none of us minded standing to watch the lights of the city float serenely by. It is truly one of the most magnificent skylines in the world, combining some radical and innovative modern buildings with some of the finest structures of the colonial past. Pudong is clearly developing into something of a tourist site as well, as further down the river there were parks and cafés lining the esplanade.

 

Once again a taxi at the end of another long day seemed to be the best option for getting back to the hotel. Too bad we were all so tired, for the nightclub scene in this city looks like it would be seriously entertaining!

Advertisements