Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shanghai Day One - The Bund Walking Tour

On my first day in Shanghai, I had a free morning.  Wanting to get some sunshine to help adjust to the timezone, I set out on foot to explore the northern part of Pudong Island.  Armed with a good pair of walking shoes and a bilingual map from the hotel, I had what I needed to explore the city.

My tour had me leaving my hotel at the St. Regis and walking the tree-lined streets.  On this morning, at about 8:00am, I was one of only about five white people in the city.  The Chinese all stared with polite wonder at my Caucasian self, probably wondering if I was lost or something.

Unlike Europe, China gets an early start on the day, and by 8:30 the town was bustling with Chinese headed to work.  Construction was everywhere, and workers were all about sweeping the sidewalks, grooming the gardens, and generally taking care of the city.  This is what economic development looks like!  We could take a lesson from the Chinese in this department.  Their commitment to infrastructure is evident everywhere in the city.

Shanghai is sparkling clean, and I have never felt safer in any other urban center.  The police presence is constant, but doesn't feel threatening in the least.  If anything, they are helpful and friendly, and will gladly lend a poor tourist a hand with directions.

My walk took me through the financial districts, and past the ultra-modern buildings in downtown, including the Oriental Pearl TV tower, and endless high-rise apartment condominiums.  (Many of which are protected by electrified fencing and gated entrances.)

At the northwest end of Pudong lies the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel.  This tunnel is the easiest way for a pedestrian to cross the Huangpo River.  The tunnel is a psychedelic light show seemingly unrelated to anything at all, but a roundtrip on the monorail will only set you back about 60 RMB ($10).

On the other side of the tunnel, you emerge upon the Bund--the colonial era architecture that reminds us that the English, French, and Portuguese all laid claim to this area in decades past.

At the Bund, you can walk along the riverside walk and watch the boats drift by, and you can even take a ferry back across the river, but I chose to use the other leg of my Bund Tunnel ticket, and walked back to my hotel along Riverside Drive on the Pudong side of the river.  This was a pretty ritzy area, as I passed by luxury condo after luxury condo, and even the Shanghai Yacht Club.  I felt very safe, and somewhat envious.

As this would be my only sunny blue-sky day, I'm really glad I made the most of it with this walking tour!

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