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China: Beijing, Chengdu, Guilin, Shanghai, Xian
Shanghai, China: First amongst equals
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
Like I said, everything is big in China. Shanghai is also beautiful. It's truly a cosmopolitan city. It's actually very easy to describe Shanghai. People, people, skyscrapers, skyscrapers, more people and more skyscrapers. The metropolis encompasses 6300 sq. km. of land and is home to 19 million.
It's a 2-hour flight from Guilin to Shanghai. Unfortunately, my flight got delayed and by the time I reached my hotel, it's was 1 in the morning. I was hosted at Hotel Panorama right at the edge of the Bund. My room on the 23rd floor was facing the city. Had I been lucky to get the view of the Huangpu River, it would have been awesome to see the glitterati of Orient Pearl Centre and other skyscrapers around it.
Shanghai is gearing up to host The World Expo in 2010. As such, the roads leading from the airport, the Bund and major buildings were under renovation. The Bund which is a walk on the banks of the river was closed for public. It was a 1-hour drive by taxi from the airport. The Maglev Train, with a speed in excess of 450 kms / hour would have got me from Pudong International Airport to downtown Longyong road station in matter of minutes. I missed taking the Maglev both ways as my landing and departure time were unsuitable. Maglev operates from 6:45 AM to 21:45 PM with intervals of 15 minutes. So be it.
I had just one day with me. Of which, half a day was reserved for a business meeting. I did my best to cover as much ground as possible in the available time. First I crossed the river using the underground site seeing tunnel. A trolley pulls you through a tunnel that has impressive laser light show. The journey lasts just 5 minutes and costs RMB 50 (return journey; RMB 40 for single). It was fun.
I got out on the other side that was the financial district, and indeed the most happening neighbourhood. Orient Pearl Tower, Convention Centre, Cruise Terminal, Aquarium, Historical Museum, Jin Mao Observation Deck, Insect Museum and of course bunch of office buildings were all there. Ideally, a visitor would want to visit all, I decided to spend time only at the Aquarium.
The entry fee to the Aquarium is RMB 120 each. However, if you are a couple, the partner goes in free! So do remember to check-out such offers at the ticket office. No shame in asking… not in China at least. I was highly impressed by the Aquarium and its exhibits. Fishes from the sizes of office clips to sharks were all there. The Aquarium goes down 3 levels.
I used the site seeing tunnel to bring me back on the Zhongshan Road from where I began to explore the famous Nanjin Road. A must see for all visitors. This road has action on both sides of the roads. Brightly lit boutiques, malls, shops, eating places… were all there. Further down, a section of the road is exclusive to pedestrians. Neons threw light on thousands of people walking beneath. I walked the entire stretch and chose to take a trolley back the pedestrian section. A good joy ride for RMB 2. Recommended.
Talking of brands, you name it and you will find it. Highlights are watches from Rolex, Rado, Omega and the likes. Out of curiosity I asked for the price. They were going for RMB 100 (about USD 15) for a pair! Sorry Switzerland.
It was 9 PM. I strolled back to the hotel soaking in the creative light effects on the buildings across the river… reminded me of Hong Kong harbour. You may want to refer to my blog on Hong Kong. Well, I had a very early flight to Hong Kong the next morning. From where I would take a ferry to Macau.
Shanghai Image Gallery Photo viewer
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