The first stop this morning was going to be the Shanghai Museum, but when the driver pulled up, the line to get in was miles long, so we went to the Jinmao Tower first instead. It’s in the Pudong area on the east side of the river. The van went under a really long tunnel under the Huangpu River to get there. Not crowded and the day was clear – probably the best day we’ve had. Jinmao Tower is designed as a modern adaptation of a traditional Chinese pagoda. It has 13 distinct tapering segments, with high-tech steel bands binding the glass like an exoskeleton. We zipped up to the 88th floor on a very fast elevator (45 seconds to the top) – my ears popped a couple of times. The view from the top is pretty spectacular.
The Jinmao building, at 1,381 feet is the second tallest in China. The Shanghai World Financial Center building next door is actually higher. WFC was built by the Japanese and they were going to hang the Japanese red circle national icon in the arch on the top, but the Chinese wouldn’t let them. We find that there’s no love lost between the Chinese and Japanese. Now it looks like a giant bottle-opener.
In the Jinmao Tower, offices occupy the first 50 floors, and the Grand Hyatt Hotel the 51st to 87th. In the center of the tower, you could look down into the 499 foot atrium of the Grand Hyatt. It gave me vertigo, but I did manage a couple of pictures.
Another tower (Shanghai World Tower) is under construction and is going to be the tallest – it already seems taller and is only about ¾ finished.
Next stop on our tour was The Bund, back across the river. The English Colonial buildings were not as pretty as the pictures I had seen. Just kind of old gray buildings. However, the stroll along the embankment was fun and the views across the river towards Pudong were spectacular as the skies continued to clear and the sun was out.
People watching was fun too – saw about 4 weddings and lots of kids out with parents as it was Saturday. Also a few guys out practicing their martial arts.
A lovely garden graced the end of the Bund, and of course lots of flowers to bring out a little color on this sunny day.
We did get a chance to quickly go into the Fairmont Peace Hotel (known as the Cathay Hotel in the colonial days) to see the interior from the Art Deco era.
Then off to lunch. This was a great place in Shanghai – called Xian Qiang Fang. Unfortunately we went in through a side door, and almost missed seeing the Art Deco interior of the main dining area. This is the old Wing On Department Store that was built in 1918. The interiors are from the 1930s. Beautiful old mahogany staircases and paneling.
Two stringed instrument musicians were playing softly in the background, but we couldn’t hear them where we were sitting. Found all this out on a trip to the bathroom.
Food was outstanding. One of the things that our guide had ordered was a whole crispy fish; head, tail and all. The meat was somehow brought to the outside of the fish, so you just flaked it off – no bones. Little pieces were nice and crispy. I could have eaten the whole thing. Pam was freaked having to look at the thing.
Next stop was the Shanghai Museum. The line in front was still miles long so we walked around to the back door. The line here was also incredibly long – we were told it might take an hour to get in. The other 4 folks wanted to bag the Museum. Just about the time I could see a major showdown happening, as I was determined to see this Museum (the only museum on our whole tour), we found out that if we were over 70 years old, there was a special place we could go in. So DH and Phil led us in a line and showed their ID and the rest of us trailed along. Fortunately they didn’t check our IDs – Pam, Howard, Sandra and I are all under 70. So we ended up getting right in! (Interestingly, it wasn’t Rocky who knew this – a Chinese guy who was in line told Sandra this – you’d have thought Rocky would have known, but it seemed to be a surprise to him too.)
The Museum was wonderful! So glad we got to see it! We started on the 4th floor with the minority costumes. The furniture, ceramics, bronzes, sculptures and jade items (although these were mostly small) were beautiful and very interesting. Took some pictures of ceramic Chinese-looking horses for a friend who really likes the style of Chinese horses. Some graceful ceramic human figures as well – will be some great inspiration for dolls. We were just leaving the Museum when it closed at 5:00pm. These are a few samples of the treasures inside:
Back to the hotel for an hour – both of us took some Aleve and lay down. There had been a lot of standing today and we were both aching everywhere and our feet were sore.
Then off to dinner, but incredibly, it was only next door to the hotel, around the corner – no van ride! Name of the place is Din Tai Fung, and they have branch offices in Los Angeles and Seattle. We had marvelous “soup dumplings” and great crispy thin pork chops, among other things. The “soup dumplings” look like sad dumpy sagging dumplings. However, in the center is the filling (pork, chicken, vegetable, etc) and the fillings are surrounded by soup, and then that is surrounded by the dumpling itself. You have to eat the whole thing whole, and make sure your lips are closed when you chow down. The dumpling explodes in your mouth with the soup and imparts a wonderful rich flavor to the dumpling. Devine! Couldn’t get enough of these! They are very labor intensive to make – we watched them being made for a while in the kitchen…
Now onto the Shanghai Acrobats. Incredibly, this too was just across the driveway of the Ritz and up 2 flights of escalator and we were at the Shanghai Center Theater on Nanjing Road. This is supposed to be the best of the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe’s venues – there are 8 in town. We were led to our seats and couldn’t believe it – we were in the center front seats in the very first row. These turned out to be the best seats in the house. During the performance we felt like the acrobats were going to land in our laps. We could see details of costumes and hear their audible cues to each other.
The show was fabulous! It started with about a dozen female jugglers on uni-cycles. Then a guy on a tightrope who ended his act by getting on a uni-cycle and doing a shoulder stand on the uni-cycle, all the time on the tightrope. He made us both nervous. An older lady did some card tricks – this was the least impressive act. A “magician” did the spinning plates trick. His side-kick made this act – he was funny and wore a wonderful costume. The best show in my opinion was the tumblers who dove through rigid standing rings. One of them even went through the rings ass-end first. Another several acts were tumblers who jumped onto one end of a seesaw, tossing an acrobat on the other end of the seesaw high up into the air, landing on the shoulders of one or more other standing acrobats. Amazing! Magnificent show! But unfortunately, none of my pictures turned out at all.
Our guide had left us to walk back to the hotel on our own. After we went down the 2 escalators, in the bottom of the building down another flight was a “supermarket” and we all stopped by there. It was filled with “foreign” (our) products. Had the feel of a small Trader Joe’s. Our 4 fellow travelers bought Jin and Tonic. DH bought a bottle of Chilean wine. Then he went with the others to Phil and Sandra’s room to drink it. I went to bed!