Shanghai, the city of superlatives, has a population of around 18 million, 6 million of whom are itinerant workers. Only a few fragments remain of the old town One block has been renovated in the Chinese old town style, however. This section of Shanghai serves as a bazaar, for relaxation activities and as a tourist attraction.
During our visit, a tea ceremony was taking place with great crowds of media people. This underscores the importance of tea for the Chinese culture. Many famous people have visited the old town tea house, including the German Chancellor and other heads of state. When here, you shouldn't pass up an opportunity to watch how tea is prepared…. and then have a chance to enjoy some.
The adjacent Yu Gardens, built by Chinese civil servants, is one of China's most beautiful gardens. A Chinese garden always contains 4 elements: water, rocks, plants and a pagoda. Also important is that a garden is designed so that its entirety can never be seen at once. The garden should be divided into various sections, which can be seen individually. This allows various landscape styles to be included in one garden.
Shanghai's architecture is especially wondrous around the city center, in the City Hall Square and in front of the Shanghai Museum which can be visited over the span of several days. The roof of one high rise must always be unique in Shanghai, so that a unique skyline appears. In addition to stone, jade, porcelain and gold objects, the Shanghai Museum also contains furniture and calligraphy. The museum is a worldwide leader in research on the Bronze Age.
Another must-see for almost all tourists is a trip on the German maglev train - Transrapid. The 15 km ride between the airport and the future Expo grounds takes just 8 minutes. Yet the level of noise, even when traveling at 430 km per hour, is not much different than a German high speed ICE train. For Chinese, a ride on the Transrapid is not very appealing, since it is relatively expensive and after the Expo grounds stop they must continue by taxi. They prefer to take a taxi and have the added advantage of not carrying their luggage themselves.
When taking a boat ride on the Huangpu Jiang upstream towards the mouth of the Yangtze you pass the historical military building facade on the left side. On the right is the glittering front of the Pudong office and banking center. After this point, the remaining stretch of riverbanks are filled with an endless number of dockyards, container yards and other industrial buildings. With a span of 620 m, the Yangpu bridge is among the longest hanging bridges in the world and one of the most heavily trafficked.
The intensive shipping which sometimes appears chaotic, is proof of the intensive business activity in the region. Many industrial companies advertise the fact that they have ISO certification. This is something we noticed in the rest of China, for instance on the cable car system at Emei Mountain.
The mouth of the Huangpu River into the Yangtze appears like the mouth of a river into the sea. You cannot even see the other shore. The direction of the Yangtze can only be determined through the direction of passing ships.
You get a spectacular view from the 450 m high Oriental Pearl TV tower.
Just 10 years ago when the same areas of land in Pudong were just farmland, there stands today the stock exchange, the 420 m high Jin Mao Tower and an endless sea of high rises.
In the evening, the brightly lit group of buildings and Pudong’s skyline are an invitation to take a stroll along the harbor boardwalk.
Here we say goodbye to a country where a description of its attributes is often not enough. The dynamics of its economy, the development of its land without compromise and the simultaneous efforts to preserve China's cultural treasures, combined with the cheerfulness and hospitality of its people made China an incomparable experience for us.
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