Shanghai – A Love / Hate Relationship, part 2

continued from Shanghai – A Love / Hate Relationship, part 1

Pudong

As the sun lowered on the horizon, I headed to Pudong, to the business district across the river from the Bund. This is home to the most iconic structure of modern Shanghai – the Pearl Tower and many other skyscrapers including the three used in Mission Impossible 3 and the beautiful Shanghai World Financial Center.

When I did my lesson on the wonders of China and let my students choose what they are, the Shanghai World Financial Center was on the list because it is one of the tallest buildings in the world. At the time I joked that it looked like a giant bottle opener. However, when the sun goes down and the lights come on, it is a very striking building and I immediately fell in love. The way they use the lights to accentuate the architecture is perfect.

Of course I had to go to the top where the second highest observation deck in the world hangs underneath the top cross bar. The views at night were okay but unfortunately marred by the super-dirty windows. It was hard to get a good picture out of them because of the reflection on the dirt and grime.

After the SWFC, I walked over to the Pearl Tower. To get there I went over a pedestrian bridge by the IFC mall. From the bridge you can get a great view for pics of both the SWFC and the tower. It will be interesting to see the skyline change with the new building going up next to the SWFC. It will be taller and have a funky roof. Unfortunately, it will block the view of the financial center from parts of the Bund.

World Expo Site

I don’t know why, but big world events like the Olympics and world fairs greatly interest me, so naturally I wanted to visit the site of the 2012 Shanghai World Expo. I knew that most of the pavilions had been made for temporary use to be deconstructed after the event, but I didn’t know that two years later there wouldn’t be much left except barren lots, construction fences and rusty leftovers.

One would think that an event they were so proud of, promoted like crazy all over the country with signs and insignia still up two years later that it would be better taken care of for the still tons of visitors who want to visit. There are a few pavilions still standing and in use including the China Pavilion, some large exhibition halls and the Saudi Pavilion affectionately nicknamed the Moon Boat.

That was the only open building to visit across the whole former expo park. Supposedly, they use the other remaining pavilions for special events, which means no one of the general public will probably ever go in them again. The large arena now dons the name of Mercedes-Benz and I think they play basketball in it. There’s also an ice rink in the basement for perspective skaters.

Although the Moon Boat is the only pavilion left to go through like during the expo, it is worth it. Saudi Arabia did an excellent job showcasing their country. The highlight was a journey through the country on a conveyor belt walkway that takes visitors through projected presentations all about their rich culture and industry.

The highlight of this is a section where the walkway turns into a bridge and moves through a room with images being projected all around you. On the roof is a “Bedouin” oasis camp complete with large tent, great music and fake palm trees. I would’ve hated waiting in line for this or any of the pavilions since the maze for lines looks like it was designed for thousands of people at a time.

I can’t say how long this pavilion will be open or how long it will be in good shape since it seems to already be falling into disrepair in the hands of its Chinese caretakers. However, in the future there could be a nice park area at the expo park since they were definitely working on something behind one of the fences.

Yuyuan Market

The highly over-rated tourist market was the most forced of all of Shanghai. It was crowded and didn’t really have that great of selection or prices for markets in China. Beijing, Yangshuo and Nanjing have much better markets.

They try to make it look all Chinese with these big, traditional-looking buildings, but it’s all fake or at least feels that way.

Tea Party and Massages

Both funny and annoying are the many people throughout the city who came up trying to be all nice, speaking very good English who only wanted to scam us or sell to us. After the first few, we started getting straight to the point and they ran away as soon as we mentioned tea. I think about six different groups approached us about tea.

Massages on the other hand were being hawked left and right. Anyone with logic knows right away what they’re really selling when they throw in that it is with a beautiful woman. It wasn’t until the last one of these approaches on Saturday night that someone was straight with us and blurted out “for sex!” as we walked away.

I know I’ll be back in Shanghai at least once before I leave China, after all my flight goes out of there, but I’m not sure if I’ll get there before then. As I said before, I didn’t feel it. Maybe if I were living there or had more time and money to spend there it would be different, but as a guest it wasn’t for me. Oh well, until next time, remember “Adventure is out there,” so go and have one.

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