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China 4 – Shanghai

December 2, 2009

Shanghai, where do you start.  We have all heard of Shanghai and know it is in China … a really big city.  But, Shanghai is growing like no other city in the world.  It  is an amazing city of 19 million people bustling with commerce and frequently compared to New York City. 

Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Skyline

The skyline in Shanghai is a mixture of phenomenal space-age buildings, the tallest rising 1614 feet with taller buildings planned!  Twenty years ago the city had 12 buildings over 20 stories in height – today they have over 4,400!  The Pudong, the business district where skyscrapers in the above picture are located, was farm fields a little over ten years ago.  This area of the city connects to the airport by the fastest train in the world – a train that rides on a magnetic field and travels over 260 miles per hour.  When driving to the airport a person needs to be extremely alert in order to see the train… it passes so quickly.  If you turn your head away and you hear the whuuuush… it has passed and you cannot turn your head fast enough to catch a glimse.

The Oriental Pearl Tower at Night

We also visited the Bund with its European colonial architecture and just across the river from the Pudong business district.  The Bund was a raucous port in the old days with sailors from around the world mixing here.  Violence and every vice immaginable was common.  Today, the river carries a steady stream of ocean ships and barges with construction materials, both day and night.  Typically, there will be 20 vessels spaced out, making their way up the river.  Occasionally, the deep horns sound, reminding everyone that the river never sleeps. 

Old Shanghai at Night

Our explorations in Shanghai also took us to some of the older areas including the Yuyuan Gardens, dating back to the 1300s and the Ming Dynasty.  The lush gardens were such a contrast to all the concrete and steel of modern Shanghai.  The Starbucks near the gardens gave us a wonderful break from the humid 90 degree heat. 

Yuyuan Garden

On our first night in the city we went to the world famous Shanghai acrobatic show.  The stunts were spectacular and one seemed virtually impossible… They had a sphere, a circle made of a strong metal fencing so you could see inside it.  It was approximately 25 feet high.  A small door with a ramp led into the sphere.  A small motorcycle would go buzzing into the sphere, then build up speed so he could go round and round, up and down.  Basically the guy was upside down or sideways much of the time because of the speed.  This stunt kept getting more complicated each time they opened the door and another motorcycle shot into the sphere.  Eventually, there were 5 motorcycles inside the sphere buzzing along at high speed so some could be going upside down while others were weaving different courses, round and round, inside this sphere.  No collisions… amazing!!!!!

Shanghai Acrobats

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