Charlie's China Tour—A Rainy Day in Shanghai

2019-07-18China travel Guide

Jay and I boarded the train at Huangshan the previous evening and we were on our way to Shanghai. I slept quite well. This morning I awoke at 6 AM as the train moved steadily along. I fell asleep shortly after the train departed. The bunk above Jay was occupied by a young woman.

Sometime during the evening at one of the trains' stops along the way, a man entered our compartment and occupied the bunk above me. Jay awoke early and left the compartment. There are 9 compartments in our 'sleeper car', each with 4 people. It's 7:26 AM and the train has come to a stop. Looking out the window we are in an urban area so we very likely are in Shanghai but not at the train station. The 4 of us in our compartment are all awake and each of us is 'on' our mobile device. It is so quiet. No one is talking. Outside, it is grey and overcast.

We finally pull into the train station. We gather our suitcase and whatever we have been bringing with us and depart the train at 9:15 AM. It's seemingly a long walk to some escalators. Up we go and depart the train station. There appears to be 2 or 3 entrances (exits) to the train station. Outside we go and lo and behold, we don't see anyone with a 'Welcome Jay and Charlie' sign. It's grey and overcast. We wait a few minutes and then watch our luggage while I check for someone at the other entrances. I didn't see anyone who appeared to be waiting for us. I return to where Jay was waiting and alongside Jay is our local guide in Shanghai, a young man named Blake. We then walked a short distance where a car was waiting for us. We drove for about 40 minutes to our hotel.

Shanghai is a very large city with 24 million inhabitants. We checked into our hotel. Blake refers to Shanghai as a 'new city'. Unlike many cities in China with long and varied histories, Shanghai's history is quite short. Prior to foreign settlement, it evolved from a sleepy fishing village to its present state as the commercial capital of China.  Prior to the British, Shanghai was a quiet fishing village. In 1840 the British Army entered Shanghai and opened it as a treaty port in 1843. Many other countries set up concessions there. They sought industrial raw materials and dumped superfluous goods there. At that time it became an 'Adventurer's Paradise' and many countries set up enterprises in industries of shipping, banking, printing, pharmacy, architecture and public utilities. Meanwhile the Qing government also set up many enterprises here to promote national industries and commerce. Glass deck in Oriental Pearl TV TowerRecent history, after China's reform and opening-up in 1978, Shanghai greatly benefited from the favorable national policies and its own advantages. With the reform and restructuring of the economic system, the city developed its indigenous economy and the living standard of the people improved. Open-minded introduction of foreign capital, advanced foreign technologies and management methods speeded up its development. Nowadays the international metropolis of the city is an influential economic power in the world and undoubtedly an economic, financial, trade, cultural, science and technology center of China.

It is now raining. At our hotel I asked for and received an umbrella which I could use for the day. We're ready to see the city. Our first stop was the 488 meter high Pudong-Oriental Pearl TV Tower, a place of interest for many on this rainy day. As we took the elevator up, the operator gave us a brief history of the tower and what we might see. Blake easily guided us around several observation levels. It was raining hard and quite foggy so the visibility was limited. Lots of good people watching though, especially the young children on a glass deck where one could walk and see all of the way down.  ALL THE WAY DOWN!! It was a strange feeling walking on that glass surface. It is now raining even harder.

Shanghai is a 3 ring city meaning the city has 3 expressways that encircle the city. By contrast, Beijing is a 5 ring city. It actually has 8 rings that extend well beyond the Beijing municipality. Shanghai is expected to have the world's largest metropolitan circle in 3-5 years. More expressways then will obviously be needed for the ever-expanding city. We're now riding in a BMW that is not equipped with a GPS. Obviously another driver who really knows the city. Shanghai is more of a financial center, thus less smog.

Yu Garden in Shanghai

We next visited the Yu Gardens... in the rain. The gardens cover a 5 acre area.  A classical garden complete with period style buildings. The Garden was created by Pan Yunduan a Government Officer for his family finishing in 1577 during the Ming dynasty. Splendid gardens of large green leafed vegetation and several very charming bridges. Prior to the visit to the Yu Gardens, we visited the same DQ (Dairy Queen) that Jay and I visited on our last visit to Shanghai. We are now driving through and over the Shanghai Yangtze River Tunnel and Bridge. High rise buildings in the city can rent for $5,000 per month for 100 square meters. We just finished our lunch. Yes, the rain continues. We are now crossing the century-old Wabaidu Bridge. The bridge is the symbol of old Shanghai.

The Bund in Shanghai

We have arrived at 'The Bund' and it is still raining. The Bund is a mile-long stretch of waterfront promenade along the Huangpu River. For a century, the Bund has been one of the most recognizable symbols and the pride of Shanghai. The architecture along the Bund is a living museum of the colonial history of the 1800s. The rain continues. We passed the famous Peninsula Hotel and walked through the lower level of the Fairmont Peace Hotel, described as a luxurious Art-Deco masterpiece. Stunning! We then return to our hotel. Dinner tonight at 6 PM. No plans for tonight except to get caught up with some sleep.

No complaints here. Blake did a wonderful job of showing us some of the highlights of his city and we loved every 'damp moment' that we spent on our first day in Shanghai. I'm not concerned about my sleep or any lack thereof. What a day!!!

To be continued...


--by Charlie Kath (customer of Visit Our China)