The bright lights of Shanghai's Nanjing Road as seen from the Seventh Heaven hotel's room window
Cities grow in size, shape,
stature and renown, some at a snail's pace, and others at such
breakneck speed that you wonder exactly what kind of money and work
ethic is behind all the speedy urbanization. Shanghai is a case in
question, since although there are palpable vestiges of the city's
traditional roots, this is one megalopolis with its finger on the
pulse, poised to take on any like-minded technologically advanced city
also prepared to throw down the gauntlet. Getting to Pudong
international airport via Dubai with Emirates airline was a simple
two-step process, and even for a seasoned traveller, it really is hard
to grasp the enormity and sheer scale of the distance covered from what
is essentially an A to B long-haul flight.
Images of Pudong district as seen from the Oriental Pearl Tower - dynamic!
The first piece of
technology to manifest itself came in the shape of the Maglev
high-speed train which whizzes passengers from the airport to Longyang
station on the edge of Shanghai, and needless to say, the scenery
outside is as blurry as you could imagine. Staying in the very heart of
the city, at a delightful low-cost hotel's suite halfway down Nanjing
Road provided just about the best hotel room city view to date, and by
night, the neon-infested urbanscape dazzled like none other this side
of Tokyo. Everything was on a grand and dynamic scale, from the
multitude of shopping options, to the delights of the Oriental Pearl
Tower, the activity alongside the Bund river, the trippy Bund tourist
tunnel (like the interior of a huge kaleidoscope) and the sheer
striking beauty of old Shanghai, and the quintessentially Chinese
atmosphere contained therein.
Zhouzhuang, China's take on Venice, replete with singing Chinese gondolier lady - way cool!
A recent magazine front cover proclaiming
Shanghai as the 'World's most thrilling city' really did not seem too
far off the mark, and even those with an aversion to city settings
would possibly concede that there have to be some exceptions to their
overall preference for rural settings. A 2-centre day trip from
Shanghai, taking in the gardens of Suzhou, and the canal town of
Zhouzhuang (the Venice of China, replete with Chinese gondoliers!) made
it seemed like excursion options are part of any trip's crowning glory,
and the five nights spent in China's premiermost urban area felt like
they pertained to just about the most vital piece of the travel jigsaw
which should be rightfully termed the 'standard-setter'. The greatest
part about this ongoing quest for beauty and fulfilment though, is the
knowledge that there are no doubt other experiences and places to rival
it for its sheer wow factor.
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