I’m staying on the 23rd floor of a brand-new hotel on the Bund with uninterrupted views out over the Huangpu River to the futuristic skyscrapers on the Pudong side. Fortunately, there is no smog and the skies are blue.
On my first visit here in 1985 while I was living in Hong Kong, the whole area was marshes and rice paddies. The changes since then are incredible. Click here to read.
Grey Mao suits and simple clothing of Shanghai in the 80’s has been replaced by conspicuous consumption reflected in the latest Western fashions – clothes and hairstyles. Roads once clogged with bicycles, grey trucks bearing commune numbers, and a few cars are now log-jammed with late model vehicles.
The Middle Kingdom will rise again, as sure as the sun that beautifully back-lit the silhouetted skyscrapers outside my bedroom window this morning!
A Sunday afternoon stroll along the waterfront promenade gives me a good view of architectural relics along the Bund from Shanghai’s days as a treaty port. I walk into the now restored Art Deco Peace Hotel looking for the old-timers jazz band, but I’ll need to come back later.
Thankfully, the local government has protected the heritage aspects of this precinct while private interests have restored the beautiful old buildings to their original glory.
A taxi-ride away is the buzzing Xintiandi area, part of the old ‘French Concession’. Rather than razing a block of dilapidated shikumen (“stone gate homes”), here again, the Shanghai government (in cooperation with private interests) commissioned an American architect to redesign and renovate them. I went for a walk down memory lane and took an outside table at Wolfgang Puck’s for a good Aussie beef hamburger and a glass of beer to watch the world go by.
Using the hotel’s handy printed list of places to see in English and Mandarin, I hopped another taxi and went to Yu Garden for a walk past the pavilions and over the little bridges in the Ming Dynasty-era garden in the centre of the bazaar. The shopping bazaar was pulsing with people; and all taking selfies on their mobile phones – strangely, not of the traditional scenery, but in front of shops.