May 11th: Big Hair Day in Shanghai

Today consisted of touring around the heart of Shanghai. Through the shrouded mist (rain) we were able to explore the Pudong Financial district, the Bund, Nanjing road (shopping district) and the Xintiandi (the entertainment district).

The morning started not that early with breakfast at the hotel. One the way to the Financial district the tour guide explained unique facts about Shanghai. Fun fact: Shanghai has a population of 23 million, of that population only one third have a single car. The cost of a Shanghai Licence plate is 90,000 RMB (~$15,000 CDN), which limits the amount of people on the road. The government manages the number of cars on the road by allowing a limited number of Shanghai licence plates. The wealthy families who want more than one car purchase a second licence plate in a smaller city (lower cost). Only Shanghai plates are allowed on the freeways during rush hour traffic.

Upon arrival we started the day flying at 259 m above street level at the transparent observatory. The sights were somewhat clouded by the mist, but we were able to see most of the architecture around the Pearl Radio and TV tower (Pearl Tower).

Prior to touring the Pearl Tower, the group had a much needed Starbucks treat. As we entered the tour a marching band appeared out of thin air and played well known march music. We then took the elevator up to the view observatory deck and enjoyed the views of the majestic city. The group observed the Global Financial Centre hotel (101 stories, tallest building in Shanghai).  Prior to 1994, there were no high rises in Shanghai. Today, the skyline of the city is filled with unique buildings creating a futuristic atmosphere.

Next, we went to the Shanghai History Museum located at 0 m of the Pearl Tower. The exhibits displayed a depiction of life in early Shanghai using colourful displays and models. The displays highlighted the subservient relationship of the Chinese with the Westerns in China, which has affected how China today conducts business with the world. As a result, today the Chinese ensure a mutual respect clause is adhered to in every business contract when dealing with foreigners.

Lunch was had in the Bund district which is across the river from the financial centre. The food consisted of Shangainese cuisine adapted to a western audience. The noodles and the meatballs were a hit with the group. Pleasant surprise: the bathrooms were in the Western style and perfumed with incense. After the feast, we strolled on the world famous boardwalk overlooking the financial district and the world trade centre. We posed for pictures in front of Shanghai’s bronze bull, which mirrors the one one in Manhattan (however slightly bigger). We then shopped on Nanjing road, which is a popular shopping district among expats and locals. Shortly after, we checked out the bar district known as Xiantiandi. There were many cafes and bustling restaurants, reminiscent of any major global city.

Dinner at the hotel was brief as the group was excited to return to the Xiantiandi district to commence the evening festivities. Some of the group attended a Jazz Cafe, some went to a Moroccan themed Hookah cafe, while others strolled the district. A fun night was had by all!

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