I have always considered Shanghai my hometown, even though I only lived there for 11 years. But those were the most impressionable years and the fond memories are permanently etched in my mind. The food is hard to beat too so we trudge back to Shanghai every year, but the trips are always very rushed. A normal trip itinerary looks something like this:
Day 1 – arrival at 9pm, dinner with in-laws
Day 2 – send clothes to tailor to be repaired; get eyes checked for new prescriptions; lunch at grandmother’s place; visit DVD shops; dinner; get hair washed
Day 3 – pick up altered clothes; leave on a trip to somewhere else in China
Day X – return to Shanghai; pick up new glasses; last visit to DVD shop; dinner with in-laws; hair wash again if time allows; pack
Day X+1 – 8am leave for airport
As such, I never have any time to visit the new landmarks or do any sightseeing. You might think it strange that a person who grew up in Shanghai would have the urge to go sightseeing, but Shanghai is changing so rapidly that in the last 15 years since I left, the landscape has gone through a total transformation. I can no longer recognize even the street that I grew up on, let alone name the dozens of new skyscrapers that jump into your vision field everywhere you turn. Lucky for me, a recent business trip to Shanghai gave me the opportunity to do some touristy things.
It was my company’s annual Asian regional regulatory affairs conference, a.k.a. free trip to an exotic location. Granted, Shanghai is not exotic to me, but I welcomed the chance to go for some great food and shopping, on company time. After the first day of meeting, which lasted from 8:30am to 6:30pm, our Shanghai office arranged a night sightseeing tour after dinner.
A tour bus with an English-speaking guide picked us up at our hotel and took us to the Oriental Pearl, Shanghai’s multi-functional TV tower complete with three observational decks. At 468m, it is the tallest tower in Asia and the third tallest in the world.
Looking at the Oriental Pearl from its base
The tower sits on the east bank of the Huangpu river across from the bund (waitan in Chinese), the financial district of Shanghai’s colonial era. From the tower, the old customs house with the trademark clock and various bank headquarters can be seen across the river.
View of the bund
I found that the best spot to take pictures is actually the lowest deck. It is not enclosed in glass like the two upper decks so there is no problem with glare, and the open design provides some very much needed fresh air. It is from this deck that I took the following photos of my favorite skyscraper in Shanghai, the Jin Mao Da Sha, which houses the Grand Hyatt Hotel on its upper floors. It looks infinitely better at night, and always reminds me of Gotham city.
Jin Mao building