SPECTACULAR SHANGHAI -Best Things To Do In shanghai – Interesting Facts About Shanghai
Former Maharashtra chief minister Late Vilasrao Deshmukhʼs talk of transforming Mumbai into Shanghai had quite baffled me. Why, of all cities, did he mention the worldʼs most populated metropolis, I thought enigmatically, pictu ring a shabby, overcrowded urban area. Well, in all fairness, a visit to the city alone could provide the answer, I felt.
Explore Shanghai – SPECTACULAR SHANGHAI
From XIʼan the evening flight to spectacular Shanghai takes us above pure white, cotton-like bales of clouds. Variegated hues of crimson, gold and scarlet are splashed across the azure firmament as the setting sun emits shadows before finally disappearing at around eight. Is this surrealistic panorama from the plane window but a prelude to the obscure allure of Shanghai?
A piping hot, scrumptious dinner at the Indian Kitchen Restaurant followed by a cosy slumber in a plush suite of the Golden Jade Sunshine Hotel gears us up to explore Shanghai the next day.
Places To Visit In Shanghai – Best Things To Do In shanghai
The first thing that strikes you in the River City ʼHuʼ – as Shanghai is in short – is the architectural heterogeneity – the modern highrises and commercial establishment view with one another in terms of beauty and design, each one surpassing the other.
Of the infinite architectural marvels in the Pudong district, the Shanghai World Financial Centre Building at 492 metres stands out, towering above the rest in the skyline. “
The SWFC observatory is the worldʼs highest observatory,” informs our Chinese guide, Cherry, pointing to the 47-metre-tall structure with a skywalk 100. Pointing to another tall, pointed structure with three sightseeing spheres, she waxes eloquent, “The Oriental Peal Tower at 460 metres is the highest TV tower in Asia and the third in the world.”
“We reach a height of 263 metres on the tower and have an excellent birdʼs eye view of Shanghai, with its concrete and glass buildings in miniature. Then we descend to a lower storey at 259 metres and tread on the walkway.
Initial trepidation slowly gives way to adventure as I step onto the glass floor to view the Huang Pu River, the beautiful buildings and the breathtaking view of the tiny rolling cars, right below our feet. That, from such a height, it is an electrifying experience, yet scary all the same is quite obvious. In the fading twilight the glittering lights start bursting out from match-box-like buildings and provide one of the most memorable spectacles of a colourful lit up city. The iridescence of lights takes my mind back to the sizzle and sparkle of Las Vegas and the glitzy glamour of Paris. Shanghai, incidentally, is known as the ʻParis of the Eastʼ.
A GLOBAL FEEL – Interesting Facts About Shanghai
- The ground-floor basement area where elephantine colour pictures of notable monuments of the world adorn the walls infuses the visitors with a global feel in Shanghai. The Huang Pu River Cruise showcasing sparkling lights beaming out from the high-rises (Philips being the most prominent) is as enticing as the shimmering reflection of the illumination in the river waters.
- The heart of Shanghai that lies in Chinaʼs Jiangsu Province is the intersection of the Bund and the famous Nanjing Road. The Bund, with tall skyscrapers, is a bustling commercial avenue that lies along the Huang Pu River. To the east of the river lies the Pudong area that is the economic nerve-centre of Shanghai.
- Huge architectural wonders like the, the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Centre provide an excellent view of the Pudong skyline.
- The second thing that catches your fancy is that, despite having a surging population of 23.47 million (2011) Shanghai doesnʼt make you claustrophobic.
- Traffic is well-organised and a lot of open spaces and gardens exist. The local Chinese populace has begun to speak or understand English. “We have realised that we should be able to communicate with the world in English so that we occupy the top slot in business enterprise and other sectors,” our guide states emphatically.
- Shanghai is an educational hub both for elementary and high school as well as college and university education. More than 30 colleges and universities impart higher education to students here.
- We step into the Yufo or Jade Buddha Temple that houses a two-foot-high seated white jade Buddha statue brought from Burma (now Myanmar) in the 19th century.
- Another smaller one of the Sakyamuni in a reclining pose, symbolic of Buddha’s Nirvana, adorns the beautiful temple where a lot of Bodhisattvas, a laughing Buddha, guardians of the temple, also find place amidst glossy red, gold and vermilion-carved interiors.
- We traverse wide tree-lined roads, bridges and flyovers observing the manicured lawns, colourful flowerbeds amidst verdant foliage to reach Nanjing Road, the Mecca of shopping in Shanghai. Branded items, genuine and fake, can be purchased after a great deal of bargaining in the crowded stores. “You say how much?” asks the shopkeeper, immediately offering you a calculator to quote your bargain price in yuans or dollars on your selected article. A lot of haggling in broken English over, he or she, who usually speaks in Mandarin or Shanghainese, will display the final rate on the calculator. If it suits you, you take it or else ʻget lostʼ.
- A large square, the People’s Plaza on Nanjing Road, is the city’s largest public open space where vendors do brisk business, selling curies and even large fanciful kites. The Shanghai Museum, a 1996 established building shaped with a square base and a round top attached with arches, is located here and boasts of a sizeable collection of 1,30,000 precious works of art that include Chinese paintings, pottery, sculptures, ceramics, jade and ivory carvings, bronze and lacqueware handicrafts, seas, coins and artifacts of ethnic minorities.
A VIBRANT CITY – SPECTACULAR SHANGHAI
Shanghai is a vibrant city whose museums, music, art and culture – be they rock concerts, opera, ballets or theatre performances – keep the visitors enthralled, day and night.
“Our next stopover is Chinatown,” our guide announces as we laugh. “You might have heard of Chinatown in Singapore, the U.S and other European countries but Chinatown in China? Amazing! Yeah, itʼs a very busy marketplace as you can see,” elaborates Cherry with typical Chinese features but attired in trendy western wear. Indeed, Chinatown – with its bluish–grey, yellow, vermilion pagoda–like structures with huge hoardings of Chinese script characters and calligraphy styles, lanterns, fire–spewing dragons, giant pandas, Kung Fu and Tai Chi practitioners and mindboggling aromas of a variety of tea, seafood, pork items and other foodstuff that are the hallmark of a Chinese market place – is a quaint little spot, throbbing with crowds mirroring a blend of cultures.
Amidst all this hustle and bustle lies the attractive Yuyuan Garden. Built during the Ming Dynasty, the garden exuding the exclusive Chinese touch is replete with aesthetically arranged plant and trees and a tranquil lake that abounds with a lot of agile fish gliding about freely. A young jeans and Tee-shirt clad Chinese girl outside McDonaldʼs sees us as strangers and converses in flawless English. “Hi, Iʼm awfully hungry.
How about offering me a free lunch at McDonaldʼs?” Not just her. Itʼs like poverty amidst plenty as we see many beggars in the affluent city where centuriesʼ old temples coexist with trendy shopping malls, bicycles with luxurious cars.
A MAGICAL RIDE – SPECTACULAR SHANGHAI
Many amongst us dish out 110 Yuan to take a magical ride on the shanghai-Maglev train that uses magnetic levitation technology where the train does not touch the tracks and travels at a top speed of 431 km/hr or 268 mph.
One of the fastest developing cities in the world, Shanghai which in the local language means Upon-theSea happens to be dynamic and prosperous too. “Besides being the busiest container port in the world, spectacular Shanghai is known, for its ship building, machinery, electrical equipment, iron mines, fertilisers and cotton textiles,” Cherry informs us. Shanghai, the city of stunning contrasts, offers the discerning tourist a variety of rich flavours in terms of glamorous sights and sounds scents and tastes and, obviously, wholesome entertainment. No wonder, the late Vilasrao Deshmukh spoke so effusively about the international metropolis. Having stepped into Shanghai and savoured its resonant diversity and technological prowess, Iʼm glad I get the answer to my question before saying, Ciclya – or goodbye in Chinese.