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Exploring Shanghai

Of Shanghai’s three main areas, the Old City to the south is typically Chinese, with alleys, markets, and temples. It is also the site of the Yu Gardens (Yu Yuan), Shanghai’s finest traditional garden. The former concession areas comprise the French Concession to the Old City’s west and the British and American Concessions – collectively known as the International Settlement – to its north. Here are the Bund, the river side promenade lined with grand colonial buildings, including the Fairmont Peace Hotel and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and the city’s two main shopping streets, Nanjing Road and Huaihai Road. Pudong, Shanghai’s newest district, on the Huangpu’s east bank, has some of the world’s highest commercial buildings.

The Bund

Some places are forever associated with a single landmark and in the case of Shanghai it is surely the Bund. Also known as Zhongshan East 1 Road, the Bund was at the heart of the post-1842 concession era, flanked on one side by the Huangpu River and on the other by the hotels, banks, offices, and clubs that were the grandiose symbols of Western commercial power. Most of the old buildings are still in place and a walk along here can easily absorb a couple of pleasant hours. The area was redeveloped for the 2010 World Expo

Nanjing Road

Running west from the Bund, Nanjing Road has historically been considered Shanghai’s foremost shopping street, despite competition from areas such as chic Huaihai Road. The street is divided in two – Nanjing Road East runs from the Bund to People’s Square, after which it becomes Nanjing Road West, a total length of 6 miles (10 km). The traditional “shopper’s paradise” is along pedestrianized Nanjing Road East, which is filled with upscale brand malls, stores, and boutiques. Theaters, cinemas, restaurants, beauty salons, and crowds of shoppers complete the picture. Before 1949, all the major stores were located here. One of them, the Sun

Department Store, is now the Shanghai No.1 Department Store, which attracts 100,000 customers every day with its exotic window displays. As window shopping is such a popular pastime, the pedestrianized section of Nanjing Road East between People’s Park and the Bund, with its numerous 1930s Europeanstyle buildings, is perpetually busy. The road culminates on People’s Square in front of the Pacific Hotel, with its impressive exterior and fine plasterwork interior, and the dark and brooding Park Hotel, once one of the city’s most fashionable hotels, as well as China’s tallest building when it was built in 1934. Farther west, the area between Nanjing Road West and Jing’An Temple metro station was formerly known as Bubbling Well Road after the well near Jing’an Temple. It is more upscale and less crowded, with exclusive shopping and residential developments such as Plaza 66, Westgate Mall, and the Shanghai Center . There is a clutch of designer shops, restaurants, and apartments around the Portman RitzCarlton Hotel, opposite the Shanghai Exhibition Center.

3 People’s Park & Square

Opposite The Park Hotel is the oval-shaped former Racecourse, now occupied by People’s Square and incor porating the pleas antly landscaped People’s Park (Renmin Gong Yuan), the Shanghai Museum and Shanghai Grand Theater. Most people visit the park to walk, gossip, exercise, or simply watch the world go by. The park is ringed by gleaming glass and metal skyscrapers. Facing it on its eastern side is Mu’en Tang, the Merciful Baptism Church that was built in 1929 as the American Baptist Church. An inter-denominational survivor of China’s many revolutions, it is open to all and foreign nationals are welcome, but the services are only in Chinese.

Within the park itself is the elegant glass box of MOCA Shanghai, the Museum of Contemporary Art. Its two floors house regularly changing exhibitions of cutting-edge art and design. At the northwest corner of the park, the Shanghai Art Museum occupies the lower floors of an elegant old racecourse clubhouse. The collection is composed of a great many traditional Chinese paintings, along with some experimental works.

Opposite the Shanghai Museum is the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, which traces the huge urban development projects which have taken place in recent years. The highlight is a whole floor dedicated to a scale model of Shanghai, showing all existing and approved buildings.
At the northwest corner of People’s Square is the Shanghai Grand Theater , made almost entirely of glass and topped by a spectacular convex

4 Pudong

In the mid-20th century, Pudong, facing the Bund on the other side of Huangpu, was the city’s poorest quarter, a squalid huddle of slums and brothels and also the home of the notorious gangster Du Yuesheng or BigEared Du. In 1990, it acquired the status of Special Economic Zone, and became one of the largest building sites in the world, supposedly festooned with a third of the world’s large cranes. The transformation has been remarkable – a forest of skyscrapers has grown as investment poured in. The 1,500-ft (457-m) Oriental Pearl TV Tower offers views across the city from halfway up, and houses the interesting Shanghai History Museum. Pudong is also the site of the 1,379-ft (421-m) Jinmao Tower, whose 88th-floor

observation deck has views down on the Pearl. Both are surpassed by the 1,614-ft (492-m) Shanghai World Financial Center, and the 124-floor, 2,073-ft (632-m) Shanghai Tower Pudong, the second tallest building in the world upon completion in 2014

5 Yu Gardens and Bazaar

The old-style buildings of the Yu Gardens bazaar are not really old, but the fanciful roofs are nevertheless very appealing. The shops here peddle everything from tourist souvenirs to traditional medicines and, despite inflated prices, the area is incredibly popular. It is best to arrive early and go straight to the beautiful and relatively peaceful Ming-dynasty Yu Gardens (Yu Yuan). A dumpling lunch, before the restaurants get too busy, will set you up for a hectic afternoon of shopping and haggling, followed by a cup of tea in the quaint Huxinting teahouse.

6 Fuxing Park
The French bought this private garden, located in the French Concession, in 1908. It was known then as the “French Park,” and has elements of a formal

7 The Huangpu River

 The Huangpu River is a mere 68 miles (110 km) in length from its source, Dianshan Lake, to its junction with the Yangzi River, 17 miles (28 km) downstream from Shanghai. As a spectacle, however, it is fascinating and there is much for the eye to take in, from the redeveloped waterfront at the Bund, and burgeoning modern metropolis on Pudong, to the bustling docks that line the Huangpu all the way to the wide, windblown mouth of the Yangzi. The boat departs from the wharves on the Bund south of Yan’an Road . The one-hour trip takes visitors as far as the Yangpu Bridge, but there is also the longer three-and-a-half-hour trip, all the way to the Yangzi River.

8 Shanghai Exhibition Center

The enormous Shanghai Exhibition Center is one of the few reminders of the influence the Soviet Union once had in Shanghai. Built in 1954, it was known as the Palace of SinoSoviet Friendship, and was designed as a place for exhibiting China’s technological and agricultural advances since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. Ironically, the building stands on the site of the estate of millionaire Silas Hardoon – Shanghai’s biggest capitalist in the 1920s. The Center is worth seeing for its grimly florid Soviet-style architecture. It has an impressively ornate entrance, with columns decorated with red stars, and a gilded spire. Today, it is an exhibition and convention center.

Nearby on Xinle Road, in the former French Concession, is the old Russian Orthodox Church with its distinctive onion-shaped domes. It served thousands of refugees from the Russian Revolution in 1917. The area around Julu Road and Changle Road, nearby, has a number of interesting Art Deco and early 20th-century villas and mansions constructed by Shanghai’s wealthy residents

9 Jing’an Temple

Located opposite the attractive Jing’an Park, which contains the old Bubbling Well Cemetery, Jing’an Temple (Temple of Tranquility) is one of the city’s most revered places for ancestor worship. Originally founded in the Three Kingdoms Period, it reopened in 2006 after being completely rebuilt. In the 1930s, it was Shanghai’s wealthiest Buddhist temple, headed by the influencial abbot Khi Vehdu, who was also a gangster with a harem of concubines and White Russian bodyguards. It is said that his bodyguards went with him everywhere, carrying bulletproof briefcases as shields in the event of an attack. The temple was closed during the Cultural Revolution, but has reopened to become one of the best examples of an active Buddhist shrine in the city. It is a popular place to offer coins and pray for financial success.

10 Jade Buddha Temple

The most famous of Shanghai’s temples, Yufo Si lies in the northwest part of the city. It was built in 1882 to enshrine two beautiful jade Buddha statues that were brought from Burma by the abbot Wei Ken. The temple was originally located elsewhere, but shifted here in 1918, after a fire damaged the earlier structure. After being closed for almost 30 years, it reopened in 1980, and today has some 100 monks. Built in the southern Songdynasty style, it has sharply curved eaves and figurines on the roof. Its three main halls are connected by two courts. The first hall is the Heavenly King Hall, where the four Heavenly Kings line the walls. The Grand Hall of Magnificence houses three incarnations of the Buddha, while the Jade Buddha Chamber contains the first jade statue – that of a large reclining Buddha. The finer of the two statues, however, lies upstairs. Carved from a single piece of jade, this jewel-encrusted seated Buddha is exquisite. Visitors should note that photography is forbidden here.

Exploring Shanghai Exploring Shanghai Reviewed by MELANIE INFINITY on January 07, 2020 Rating: 5

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