Next we visited the Bund walkway along the Huangpu River. As we stood by the railing of the boardwalk, we looked out across the river to the Pudong Area of Shanghai. This view is the most famous panoramic view of Shanghai’s skyline. The top picture on this page shows you that magnificent view.The tallest building on the right will be the tallest building in China when completed, but not the tallest in the world. Dubai currently claims that record. But for how long? Who knows?
Miractulously, Dean and
I bumped into our friend Dan, who was visiting China on his own.
We’d met only once through mutual friends who belong to Mature Friends,
but who didn’t take this tour because they’d been to China several
times. Although we’d met Dan only once, he picked out Dean among all the
Asians strolling on the Bund, even though Dean was wearing sunglasses
and accompanied by someone Dan had never met, but mistook for me.
On one side, the Bund overlooks the river and on the other it overlooks
a main street with old buildings from British colonial days. One
magnificent structure used to be the financial
center of the region.
We then spent some time on the Nanjing
Road in the British sector. We had some free time to stroll around
and soak up the high-end shopping mall and window shop, have a drink, or
buy a snack. Some sneaked into McDonald’s to grab lunch American
fast-food style. But I don’t rat them out.
We didn’t have time to do any serious shopping, but that would come
later in the tour. Walking past the shops was no different than walking
an outside shopping mall in any other country, except for the
omnipresent smokers choking the air with their habit. In fact, during
out tour we came to appreciate the nonsmoking trend back home as well as
the much cleaner air.
Back at the hotel we had some time to relax before going out to a local
restaurant for dinner and then off to see an acrobatic show. Culture
shock hit us at dinner when we saw that our dinner plates were the size
of coffee saucers in the States. We had a joke that perhaps they wanted
to make sure we didn’t get too much to eat, to save money on their part.
We also joked about the corn nibblets that looked as though they’d come
out of a package of frozen Bird’s Eye corn nibblets.
The rest of the dinners took on the same basic structure — rather
bland, very little meat (and the meat we did get was unrecognizable),
rarely any fish except for a boney corpse that we had to scrape morsels
of flesh off the bones, and all served on a lazy Susan. Once we got over
the shock, which took a few days, we got used to the small portions and
small plates. When we thought back over it, the food was heavy in
vegetables and quite healthy. The menu was bland probably because of
serving a large number of Western tourists who might not appreciate
The show turned out to be phenomenal. The acrobats did stunts that appeared to defy gravity and the laws of physics. The show capped off the evening perfectly. The next day we got up early for the daily buffet breakfast and then off to the train depot.
The next morning, we took the bullet train to Suzhou. The trip took 30
minutes to travel 50 miles. A description of what we did and saw in
Suzhou appears on the next page. you can get to it by clicking the arrow
at the bottom of this page.
After a day of touring, we stayed overnight in Suzhou, and the next morning after a buffet breakfast, a bus drove us back to Shanghai in a little more than three hours. The highways are toll roads, but the Chinese keep the roads in good condition, which was a nice surprise since so much of the tour involved traveling by bus.
Upon returning to Shanghai, our bus first took us back to our hotel to
check in again. Once we settled into our new rooms, we met in the lobby
and headed off for a final day of touring in Shanghai.
We’d seen the former British sector, and on our final day in Shanghai,
the bus dropped us off in the French sector. We took a walking tour to
the site of the first meeting
hall of the Chinese Communist Party.
This area had the look and feel of a French pedestrian boulevard.
Unlike the Nanjing Road, the French sector had plenty of European style
cafés. We didn’t have much time there, and because some of us craved
some good coffee, we congregated one of the omnipresent Starbucks and
just sat, sipped, relaxed, and chatted. I know, I know, we came all the
way to China for Starbucks? But remember, we ate almost all of our meals
in common and they had been prepaid. Plus we didn’t have time to sit and
relax in a French colonial style café and enjoy a pastry and café au
lait, beer, or wine. Then on to the next stop.
Next we visited this large temple complex, where the centerpiece was a
large Buddha statue carved from a white jade rock brought back from
Burma in 1882. To show respect for the temple grounds, we took no
pictures inside the buildings and certainly none of the Jade
Buddha himself. However, we could take pictures outside.
We finished our day in the Shanghai Museum. Particularly impressive are
the ancient bronze artifacts, which reflect a high level of
sophistication from as early as the Xia dynasty, ca. 1600 BC. Two
of our group posed outside this fascinating museum.